This article was first published in the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

Fresh off a disappointing loss to Notre Dame in Las Vegas, the Cougars now host Arkansas from the Southeastern Conference in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. To bounce back, coach Kalani Sitake has plenty of challenges, including how to jumpstart his team out of the chute and finding ways to get his defense off the field as opponents are gobbling up time of possession on the Cougars.

Jaren Hall needs to return to his steady self in order for the Cougars to have a chance. But he needs more time created by moving the chains and staying on the field.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Can BYU bounce back from the Notre Dame loss and beat Arkansas from the SEC? Make a prediction and explain your reasoning.

Jay Drew: I expect BYU to play better in the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday than it did last weekend in the 28-20 loss to Notre Dame. That should be true even though the game will be played in the afternoon, and everybody knows how much BYU struggles in afternoon games. Losses to Oregon and Notre Dame when the sun was still shining at kickoff are proof of that.

I’m not ready to say the Cougars will take down the Razorbacks, however. Monday’s news that star QB KJ Jefferson has cleared concussion protocol and will be available to play against the Cougars is a big development. I’m thinking Jefferson’s play will get the Hogs over the top, because BYU won’t have an answer for him, just as it had no answer for ND’s star, TE Michael Mayer.

Prediction: Arkansas 35, BYU 30

Dick Harmon: The challenge in prognostications with this BYU team is the trend of slow starts that began with the Baylor game. If BYU cannot generate more plays and score more points in the first half of games — totally changing this trend — the Cougars could lose to Arkansas and the road games at Liberty and Boise State. Trouble is, in the Notre Dame game, this trend was unabated, unchanged and cost the Cougars a chance to stay ranked. 

I think the energy in LaVell Edwards Stadium is fuel. I believe some changes (a healthier Jaren Hall, Gunner Romney, Puka Nacua and possibly Miles Davis and Chase Roberts) might be a catalyst for Aaron Roderick to keep moving the chains and giving rest to the defense. It is perplexing to see this slow-start malady continue week after week. That Arkansas has KJ Jefferson back will be a big hurdle for the Cougars defense. I think Hall will beat Arkansas with his arm, if healthy, by creating more points. Romney and Nacua now have a legitimate superstar in Kody Epps to change the way Roderick schemes. This is a game where both defenses will struggle to limit big plays. We know BYU’s warts. Arkansas has some or they’d not be on an 0-3 losing streak.

Prediction: BYU 27, Arkansas 24

Cougar tales

Both BYU’s women and men’s basketball teams have begun practices and fans can see players on display during Midnight Madness Thursday at 11 p.m. in the Marriott Center. In this piece Jeff Call explains why Mark Pope is looking forward and not back as this season kicks off. Also, here is what WCC coaches say about BYU leaving for the Big 12.

Pope’s team is picked to finish third in the WCC. BYU’s women are also picked to finish in third place.

Here are some of our stories from the BYU-Notre Dame game at Allegiant Stadium:

  • Sitake vows to fix team struggles (Jay Drew)
  • Was Hall playing hurt vs ND? (Jay Drew)
  • Irish took advantage of BYU trend of slow starts (Dick Harmon)
  • BYU blows opportunity as No. 16 ranked team (Jay Drew)

From the archives

The emergence of BYU freshman Kody Epps
After another sluggish start, will Cougars answer the bell against Arkansas?

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers: 

“BYU’s football team is in disarray, the ability of the coaches and players to turn this disaster around is questionable. One redeeming help, Arkansas may be having greater problems than BYU. The only team remaining on BYU’s schedule that may be intimidating is Utah (Dixie) Technical. Need another win to become bowl eligible. Arkansas, Boise State, Liberty, and East Carolina are all possible losses if BYU continues to play like they are in a 3-legged sack race. It could come down to the Stanford game at the end of the year to get to that number 6.”

— Rick For Truth

“It was a tough loss, no doubt. The last couple of games have been less than expected in terms of performance, but the competition has also played very well (e.g., both Wyoming and the Aggies both had wrinkles in their scheming and were tough-nosed). ND was very solid and has improved one game at a time since they were a complete no-show vs. the Buckeyes. Why they were beaten at home by Marshall is the question (the “How” they were beat was pretty obvious). And before the Estime quote gets a Pulitzer Prize, he and others said the same thing prior to and after the Marshall debacle. Interestingly, while ND’s No. 7 had a solid game with nearly 100 yds, he was also smacked in the face and stopped cold by BYU’s D trying to get a first down/score.

Many think they have all the answers about the defense and it’s coaches and/or player failings or the offense and it’s less-than-perfect run/pass play calling. Let’s not get too worked up about this by being too high or too low. Sign up to help coach a little league team and see if YOU can make a difference, and when you do circulate your resume at the college level ... I’m sure you’ll be a success.

Further, when the schedule for the final season of independence came out, week 6 and 7 were clearly the most difficult games. Despite the disappointing performance in the 1st half vs. ND, we will see a different team on Sat. because both the coaches and players will respond which will help silence the know-it-all whiners.”

— armchairQBonthehill

Up next

Oct. 12-15 | Women’s tennis | ITA Regionals | @Las Vegas, Nevada

Oct. 13-17 | Men’s tennis | ITA Mountain Regional | @Albuquerque, New Mexico

Oct. 14 | 11:20 a.m. | Cross-country | Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational | @Madison, Wisconsin

Oct. 15 | 1:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Arkansas | @Provo