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Friday, December 17, 2010

BYU vs UTEP predictions

BYU coming in: They have won 4 of the last 6, with their only losses coming to #3 ranked TCU and #20 ranked Utah. The Utah loss, they actually dominated most of the game, going into the 4th quarter with a 13-0 lead, eventually losing on a blocked field goal, 17-16.

UTEP coming in:  The Miners have lost 5 of their last 6, with their lone win coming against bowl eligible SMU, 28-14.  Averaging less than 20 points per game in that 6 game span, while giving up an average of 29 points per contest.

BYU's Freshman QB coming in: Jake Heaps started the season a little shaky, showing his freshman growing pains. However, in the last 4 games, Heaps has thrown 9 TD's passes to only 1 interception. During that same span, the true freshman is averaging just below 250 yards passing a game (248.75) with 2.5 TDs a game. Throw in a rushing touchdown, and Jake Heaps has accounted for 10 Cougar visits to the endzone in the last month.

UTEP's Senior QB coming in: The senior QB holds most of the passing records for the school, however has been nagged by injuries the later part of the season. In UTEP's final 6 games, he averaged a measly 155.67 yards a game, with an average passer rating of  98. In that same span, he has thrown 8 interceptions to 5 touchdowns.

QB EDGE coming in:   BYU's Heaps. I know he is just a freshman, but he has been playing stellar football and nearly beat a ranked team in a hostile environment in his regular season finale. He has started to develop relationships with wideouts, and timing his routes better. He also has learned when he needs to put touch on the ball, and when to use his God-Given-Canon for an arm to get it in tight spots.

BYU running backs coming in: BYU has three rushers over 400 yards, and two over 500. One of those is true freshman Josh Quezada, and the others are Juniors JJ Di Luigi, and Bryan Kariya. These three backs give the Cougars 3 different styles of runners. Di Luigi is their finesse back, that has some nice moves, and can move the chains with longer runs, the cougars leading rusher as well as a receiver with over 400 yards receiving out of the backfield. This creates a duel threat, and can be hard to defend. Kariya is their I-back, power back. On third and short, Kariya is money everytime to convert for the Cougars. His big frame and powerful legs allow him to get a lot of yards after contact, and enough to give the cougars a fresh set of downs. Quezada, or 'Juice' as the Cougar faithful call him, has a nice combination of the two. His 211 pounds frame allows him to bang with the big boys, while at the same time having enough agility to make people miss and break out runs.

UTEP running backs coming in: Running back by committee it seems to be. With 5 guys running for over 200 yards, and 5 guys scoring on the ground, looks like UTEP likes to mix it up. Joseph Banyard has gotten most of the carries and yards (107 good for 612 yards). As a unit, they average a nice 4.7 yards per carry. That is impressive, and will test the BYU front 3. With 18 rushing touchdowns and 20 passing touchdowns, this is a balanced team. The backs dont seem to catch a lot of passes out of the backfield, which makes them a little easier to defend, knowing they are strict runners or blockers.

RUNNING BACKS edge coming in: Hard to call this one, seeing as its pretty even. The top 3 rushers for UTEP are juniors and a senior, where for BYU there is 2 Juniors and 1 true freshman. I am going to call a toss up here, with a slight edge going to BYU for the sole reason that they are duel threats coming out of the back field to catch passes.

QUICK receiver roundup: BYU has 4 receivers with 30 or more catches. UTEP has 1. BYU has 4 receivers with 300+ yards. UTEP has 2.  UTEP seems to have established Kris Adams as their go-to guy, hence him brining in almost 1,000 yards receiver and almost 50 catches good for 20.8 yards per catch. The sad thing for BYU is that their leading receiver, is also their leading rusher and a RB. Cody Hoffman has emerged as a possible big play receiver. Cougar receivers have been prone to drop easy passes this year, so look for that to play a role in tomorrow's bowl game.

Little Bro's pick: I like BYU in this one. I think they are playing better right now, and pieces are falling into place. Their defense has been stellar lately, while UTEP's offense has been sputtering. Heaps isnt playing like a freshman, and Vittatoe is banged up.

 I am calling a 38-17 BYU victory in the New Mexico Bowl. 

Jake Heaps throws for 300+ yards with 3 scoring strikes, and JJ runs for 75 yards with a TD. Defense gets a turnover that converts into points for the Cougars. BYU walks away with a relatively easy bowl win, and a great building block for the future.

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