clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

‘I expect nothing less than an absolutely bonkers, down-to-the-wire finish:’ National experts weigh in on BYU-Utah game

Utah tight end Cole Fotheringham jumps over a defender as BYU and Utah play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.
Utah tight end Cole Fotheringham jumps over a defender as BYU and Utah play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Gameday is here.

For both the BYU and Utah football teams, the 2019 season gets underway at LaVell Edwards Stadium Thursday night at 8:15 in the first season-opening matchup between the two schools in this storied rivalry.

Not surprisingly, the No. 14 Utes are the overwhelming favorite to beat the Cougars, as evidenced from national experts making their Week 1 predictions.

Both Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic picked Utah to win, with Feldman picking a 24-20 Utes triumph while Mandel sees it as an even closer game, at 27-26 Utah.

“I expect nothing less than an absolutely bonkers, down-to-the-wire finish,” wrote Mandel of a series where, in the Utes’ current eight-game win streak, seven games have been decided by eight points or less.

Sports Illustrated’s panel of eight voters all pick the Utes to prevail, with Max Meyer writing, “With starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and star tailback Zack Moss back and healthy, I think Utah will have just enough offense to escape with a season-opening win. Having one of the best defensive lines in the country helps, too.”

Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller has Utah winning 30-20, pointing to the Utes being able to rely on senior leaders Huntley and Moss this year after they both missed the 2018 game with injuries. Miller left the door open for an upset, though, writing, “Three of Thursday’s four games involving ranked teams are going to be slaughters, but this one just might produce a big upset.”

Another national writer who foresees a double-digit win is Yardbarker’s Jeff Mezydlo, with a predicted 23-13 victory for the Utes.

Overreactions tend to run rampant in sports, and CBS Sports made its best guesses as to what Week 1 results could lead to overreactions this year. A pair of them involved Utah and the Pac-12.

Barton Simmons said one overreaction from the rivalry game could be that Utah, picked in the Pac-12 preseason media to win the league title, is not really a Pac-12 contender: “If that game is even close, and especially if BYU wins, there will be some overreaction in regards to the Utes’ status as Pac-12 South favorite.”

Simmons also postulated it could be a big overreaction weekend for the Pac-12 if some of its top contenders fall: “If Oregon does lose to Auburn and some of the aforementioned Pac-12 contenders take some lumps in Week 1, the unfair overreaction will be that the Pac-12 is out of the playoffs. In the game of musical chairs that is the four-team playoff, everyone rushes to bounce an entire league, and the Pac-12 is going to start the year already on the chopping block.”

Other links

And finally ...

Wednesday’s Morning Links featured a BYU-produced video emphasizing the familial support group behind several of its prominent players, zeroing in on the theme, “We’ve got your back.”

Another strong video — this time from Utah — put an emphasis on the emotion behind the game. The Utes share the story of senior quarterback Tyler Huntley, how his family has supported him and what made Utah stand out to him.