If you knew how BYU would start, how Utah would defend dynamic UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and if Utah State could throw a wrench into the Air Force attack, this prognostication business would be a breeze.

The evidence shows the Cougars generally have stumbled out of the chute, Utah’s only loss came to Florida versus a very mobile quarterback in Anthony Richardson, and the Aggies turn the ball over enough to feed AFA’s ball-control machine.

Underdogs in Vegas? No. 16 BYU relishing that role against the Fighting Irish
Why No. 18 UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson has a chip on his shoulder as No. 11 Utah visits Rose Bowl
What Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said about the Utah State Aggies

But do these interest points have to be the storylines? Can some weaknesses be overcome with superior play in other areas? These are the designs of all these instate coaching staffs this weekend as we welcome in October football.

BYU vs Notre Dame

If the Cougars have any hope of defeating the Fighting Irish, they’ll need to race out of the chute and force Notre Dame’s traditional bully ball run game attack to take to the air. The Cougars will need to control the edge, get gap assignments nailed down, and play with far more discipline than we’ve seen since the Baylor win.

Jaren Hall should be able to pass on Notre Dame’s secondary and the strength of BYU’s offense is his pass-pro protection blocking. It would do wonders for the cause if the Cougars could get 100 yards rushing out of what they do.

Better not leave this to a field goal at the end.

Utah vs UCLA

Thompson-Robinson is exactly the kind of threat that can take down the Utes if he gets on a roll. The thing is, he’s facing a defense that eats QBs for dinner and can pressure and cover.

Defensive back Clark Phillips III seemingly takes away one-fourth of the field and makes the job easier for defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley. But this won’t be an easy game for Kyle Whittingham. The Bruins are not the UCLA of old and have built up for this kind of game.

Look for Utah’s defense, best in the league, to rise up, and for Cam Rising to deliver enough points to change the outcome of Utah’s last visit to this famous venue.

Utah State vs Air Force

The Aggies created a different identity last week when they revealed Cooper Legas running the ball 19 times. Trouble is, now it is on film and not a surprise to an opponent, and AFA defends a running QB every day in practice.

If the Aggies are to have a chance in this game, Legas must be able to hit strikes down field with his arm because this is an AFA team that is now accurately and effectively attacking defenses through the air.


Notre Dame sophomore running back Audric Estime: “I feel like their players don’t match the players we have.” 

His credentials: Named four-star recruit by 247 Sports out of New Jersey, No. 7 running back in the nation in high school, No. 3 player from New Jersey, and 2020 New Jersey Player of the year after rushing for 1,857 yards on 190 carries for 22 touchdowns as a senior. He got his first career start against Ohio State and had nine carries for 21 yards. Against Marshall, he had 10 carries for 323; ran for 78 yards on 18 carries and one TD, and had three catches for 43 yards against Cal, and in his last game against North Carolina, he had 134 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

This week’s picks

Georgia 38, Auburn 21

Tennessee 31, LSU 28

Miss. State 37, Arkansas 31

Texas 37, Oklahoma 34

Oklahoma State 31, Texas Tech 28

Washington 24, Arizona State 21

Oregon State 28, Stanford 21

Boise State 27, Fresno State 17

Oregon 42, Arizona 24

USC 37, Washington State 28

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Air Force 31, Utah State 27

Utah 31, UCLA 28

BYU 28, Notre Dame 24

Last week: 9-4; 50-20 overall (.714)

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