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BYU will have the chance to play future Big 12 power Baylor a year before joining the conference this Saturday when the Cougars host the Bears in LaVell Edwards Stadium. On Monday after a lopsided win over USF in the opener, head coach Kalani Sitake said the Bears are the standard in the Big 12 and he looks forward to measuring his program.

Here is an early look from Baylor’s perspective with head coach Dave Aranda from Jay Drew.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Give a prediction for the Baylor-BYU game Saturday, provide a score and explain yourself.

Jay Drew: Frankly, I was mildly surprised Sunday when I saw that the Cougars are a slight favorite in this game. My first reaction was that prognosticators weren’t at last year’s 38-24 Baylor beatdown in Waco, Texas, as I was. The Bears dominated that game in the trenches, rushing for more than 300 yards. Granted, the Cougars were without arguably their best defensive player, linebacker Keenan Pili, but the mismatch up front was evident.

Have things changed? I do believe BYU is bigger and stronger now than it was 10 months ago, but Baylor didn’t lose a lot of people either and new QB Blake Shapen appears to be the real deal. I think the Cougars will be able to score on the Bears, especially if receivers Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua can go. Stopping the run will be huge for BYU’s defense, and I am not quite sure it will rise to the occasion. Bears in a close one.

Prediction: Baylor 35, BYU 31.

Dick Harmon: Back in August, I had this as a loss for BYU because I discounted just how important playing in a home setting could be. Playing for the first time in front of a home crowd against a ranked team means something to these players and I believe they will find a lot of energy from it, especially in the fourth quarter. Altitude could also come into play.

I think BYU’s defense will struggle with Baylor’s physicality on offense. But I believe the same thing will happen to the Baylor defense in LaVell Edwards Stadium. So, it will come down to which offense is operating and executing at the highest level. I think Jaren Hall has the moxie, experience and talent around him to win a slugfest that will be determined in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: BYU 31, Baylor 28.

Cougar tales

BYU handily dispatched South Florida in Tampa in the season opener, a blowout victory led by an effective run and pass game. Here is Deseret News coverage of the win:

  • Cougars had all the right answers vs. USF (Jay Drew)
  • How Jaren Hall got revenge over South Florida (Jay Drew)
  • BYU had luxury of playing vanilla in win (Dick Harmon)
  • 3 takeaways from BYU’s first win (Brandon Judd)
  • Highlights, photos from win over USF (Brandon Judd)
  • BYU, Utah fans stuck together in Florida (Ryan McDonald)
  • What lessons can BYU take from win (Brandon Judd)
  • BYU turns attention to Baylor (Jay Drew)
  • BYU mum on status of receivers for Baylor game (Jay Drew)

From the archives

What Keenan Ellis remembers — and doesn’t — the night of his harrowing injury
Jim McMahon on greatest memory, Mondays with LaVell and what may determine Jaren Hall’s season

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Two areas of concern after the South Florida game: kickoffs and long pass coverage. Neither was very good at any time in the first game. High, short kickoffs were disastrous. Can’t we just kick deep into the end zone every time with the goal of avoiding any kind of return? Cougar defenders on kickoffs were often out of position, slow to the ball and poor tacklers.

Deep pass coverage was also lacking. In both halves there were missed assignments and Florida players streaking downfield in the open with defenders lagging. Luckily, most of the deep throws in the first half were errant so as not to be too costly. In the second half, Bohannon’s throws were better and BYU got burned several times. I’m sure the Baylor receiving corps are licking their chops as they look forward to the coming game against the BYU secondary. Yes, we have some young and new guys defending — but they must perform much better from this point forward or it could be a long, long season.

— dazzle

I am not concerned at all about performance in this game. They have played USF 3 times, and this was by far their best performance. The offense was almost unstoppable, except for a very small number of mistakes, which is to be expected in Week 1. The defense allowed a few passes they should not have, but were otherwise pretty good. But again, I think this is fixable, and pretty quickly. Special teams was a disaster in the second half, but one we could afford in a game we had essentially won already. The biggest improvement in a team almost always comes between weeks 1 and 2. They should be able to fix their issues and be fine.

Will they beat Baylor? Who knows? Playing at home, it looks like a coin flip to me, since it should be closer than last year. Recall that, since BYU went independent, they have had a number of occasions when they were either blown out by a team and then come back and won 1-2 years later, or just outright won the first time — and in both cases, NOBODY expected it (e.g., Wisconsin, Michigan State, USC, etc.) BYU does know how to win big games. The question is, can they bring their A game? I am optimistic.

— mabramso

Up next

Sept. 8 | 6 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. Georgia Tech | @Atlanta

Sept. 8 | 7 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Arkansas | @Provo

Sept. 9 | 6 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. Ohio State | @Atlanta

Sept. 9 | 6:45 p.m. | Cross Country | @Taylorsville

Sept. 10 | 6 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Utah Valley University | @Provo

Sept. 10 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | vs. Baylor | @Provo