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For the second-straight week BYU will face a Pac-12 opponent, this time rival Utah, which is the last time the two teams will face one another in this storied series until 2024. Utah is working on a 10-game win streak, a feat never accomplished in the history of the series.

Utes, Cougars on the air


No. 21 Utah (1-0)


at BYU (1-0)


Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MDT


LaVell Edwards Stadium


TV: ESPN


Radio: ESPN 700


For Kalani Sitake’s squad, there’s a lot of work to do in preparing for Utah, most noticeably tackling and shoring up execution on both sides of the ball. Turnovers and depth will be two factors as these two teams clash.

Here’s a series of reports on how that preparation is coming:

  • Sitake refuses to use hate in approach to Utah (Jay Drew)
  • Utah’s Whittingham offers early assessment of BYU (Jeff Call)
  • Cougars will need to improve this week (Jay Drew)

Cougar Insiders’ predictions

Question of the week: BYU’s penchant for turnovers in the rivalry game with Utah has loomed large in the nine-game losing streak. BYU was clean in the win over Arizona; is this an omen for the Cougars? Plus, predict the score for the Utah at BYU game.

Jay Drew: Aaron Roderick said today that BYU was “conservative” in its offensive approach against Arizona because the Wildcats came out in some defenses the Cougars weren’t anticipating and BYU coaches decided to play it safe. I think they will have to be a lot more aggressive against Utah — especially if they fall behind. And that aggressiveness usually leads to turnovers.

Then again, some of the most memorable turnovers in the rivalry game came early in the game, such as when Sunia Tauteoli intercepted a Taysom Hill pass on one of the first plays in the game in 2016 for a pick six. My take on turnovers is that usually, the more athletic, faster team creates the turnovers. And in the past, that team has been Utah. 

For BYU fans, it was encouraging that new starting QB Jaren Hall took care of the ball well against Arizona. He didn’t make any risky throws, and he was protected well by the offensive line. Whether they can keep Utah’s defenders off him in Provo on Saturday remains to be seen. My prediction: Utah 23, BYU 17.

Dick Harmon: Utah’s success in the nine-game win streak has been built on turnovers gained. And that has come due to Utah’s ability to get pressure with four or five rushers while using tight man coverage on BYU’s receivers. It’s worked.

Utah’s formula is sure to work again because Kyle Whittingham is set to have the best defense in the Pac-12, but this year it might be a little tougher with BYU’s bigger, more physical receivers. BYU can go 12 personnel this year (two tight ends) similar to what the Cougars did in the last win so long ago with Dennis Pitta and Andrew George. That helps with protections and possible mismatches at times in terms of size versus coverages. It hurts that Gunner Romney won’t be part of that group. If Puka and Sampson Nacua are available, the matchups will be fun to watch, especially with 6-foot-4 receiver Neil Pau’u. 

It all boils down to the QB and Utah’s pressure and the Cougar offensive line. If Utah wins that battle, getting around Jaren Hall’s protection, it will be tough to consistently drive the ball. I don’t know how much we learned from Utah’s win over Weber State and BYU’s victory over Arizona. Both teams will adjust and improve. For the Cougars, they simply have to score and not fall behind because of turnovers like in the past. Utah 24, BYU 21.

Cougar tales

BYU takes a 1-0 record into the rivalry game with Utah on Sept. 11 after defeating Arizona in the opener in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. 

Here is our coverage of that victory:

  • Cougars were businesslike in win over Wildcats (Dick Harmon)
  • Gritty Arizona made BYU earn its win (Jay Drew)
  • Three takeaways from BYU’s win over Arizona (Ryan McDonald)
  • Hospitalized BYU corner makes quick recovery (Jay Drew)
  • Report Card: Decent grades in opener (Ryan McDonald)
  • What AD Holmoe had to say about Big 12 (Jay Drew)
  • Zach Wilson on hand to witness teammates win (Ryan McDonald)

From the archives

Related
Why BYU should welcome a Big 12 invite if it comes
‘People see BYU as a Power Five team,’ outspoken Big 12 coach says

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

  • Big 12 to expand, doing it at warp speed (si.com)
  • Big 12 expansion ready to roll (CBSsports.com)
  • Big 12 presidents met Monday, invitations likely soon (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

“After the 21-3 lead early in the 3rd, BYU shut down the playbook. The prevent, bend but don’t break defense, then allowed AZ to get back in the game. Here is hoping that decision pays off next weekend and Utah doesn’t see what is coming.”

— Periloustimes

“A win is a win and we made enough plays to win. The coaches made some great calls and players executed well enough to get the job done. Every team in a game has questionable play calls. Pick any team in any game and you will think why that call. The team will improve and will beat the UofUwho next Saturday certainly if the Nacua brothers and Gunner can play. As well as Jake Oldroyd and Smith did a good job. “

— blue & white

Up next

Sept. 9 | 6 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Utah | @Salt Lake City

Sept. 10 | 10 a.m.| Volleyball | vs. Bowling Green | @Provo

Sept. 10 | 5 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. Pitt | @Provo

Sept. 11 | TBA | Cross Country | @Provo

Sept. 11 |8:15 p.m. | Football | vs. Utah | @Provo

Sept. 11 | 2 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. High Point | @Provo

Sept. 11 | 6 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Missouri | @Provo