The rivalry game comes early this year, but not without its story lines and questions
The offenses for both squads seems to be squandering and the defenses are the strength. The quarterbacks are both playing at a level that was significantly lower than expected, and yet their teams are performing well enough.
For the Utes, Jordan Wynn continues to reveal he is not as good as Ty Detmer. Against Montana state in their opening game, Wynn threw for 101 yards... Look at that closely and consider the fact that he complete 15 of his 23 passes. For 101 yards? That's an average of 6.7 yards per completion against Montana State.
Looks like the guys up north have more problems on offense than "big brother" down south. However, has BYU maintained its "big brother" status, or has Utah taken that away from them.
There are those that say that Utah is now the elder sibling, considering their entrance into two BCS games, and winning them both. They are in an AQ conference, and seem to be the only team of the two that can conduct a blowout in the usually close rivalry game.
For this years rivalry bash, I believe BYU can re-establish their status, and get their season rolling in the right direction with a win over Utah tomorrow. However, the defense and offense have to do things that they haven't done since last December against UTEP.
First lets start on the defensive side of the ball. BYU's defense is yet to produce a sack against an opposing quarterback. They have a couple of interceptions, and are only allowing a couple of yards per carry. Their strength, the front seven, have got to get pressure on Wynn who has shown in the past to have a quick trigger and not necessarily accurate. Getting under his skin, in the confines of LES would be huge for the offense to get some momentum, and bring in some points.
Also for the defense, I think BYU needs to a turnover later in the game. Utah never seems to go away, and they seem to develop some sort of momentum out of no where when they need it most. BYU has never had a defense with this kind of ability, in my opinion, and this is the year that I think if the defense can disallow Utah momentum, will allow for a big game.
On the offensive side of the ball, BYU has got to take shots down the field. The offensive line has got to give Heaps time to throw the ball down field to play-makers like Apo and Hoffman. Breaking down a secondary will be huge. There are those that say that starting with the run will open up the pass. I tend to agree with that. However, not in this game, I think it needs to be the opposite. I think the passing game, which by BYU standards has been quite anemic, needs to be opened up first to allow the running game to be legitimate.
Heaps has got to get other guys involved. He needs to allow routes to develop, and for that to happen the offensive line has got to hold. I don't see a reason why this couldn't happen. If it does, I really do expect BYU to win tomorrow. I think BYU has more to play for, and Utah is not that good. Jordan Wynn is not what he has been hyped for, and their offense is struggling just like BYU's.
Final score: BYU 27 Utah 17
Utah seems to get one big play a year, and this year I don't see being any different. The only difference between this year and years passed is how the defense responds to it. I think this years defense responds in a big way with a turnover the next series, allowing for the cougar offense to establish a new lead that won't be relinquished.