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Who do national experts like in the BYU-Baylor game? Here’s their predictions

Five publications weigh in on the Cougars’ home opener against a Top 10 program. Also, how will Utah bounce back?

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BYU running back Chris Brooks (2) evades defenders during BYU’s season opener against USF on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Robert W. Grover, for the Deseret News

No. 21 BYU hosts No. 9 Baylor on Saturday in one of the most anticipated matchups of Week 2 of the college football season.

Will the Cougars earn the win in their home opener, or will the Bears beat BYU for the second straight season?

It’s a hotly debated topic for national prognosticators.

Here’s a look at what five different national publications predicted could happen for BYU, as well as No. 13 Utah, in Week 2.

Note: all these predictions happened prior to ESPN’s Pete Thamel reporting the BYU wide receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney will miss the Cougars’ game against Baylor.


Bill Connelly broke down several key games this weekend, among them the BYU-Baylor matchup, and used two different ESPN metrics — the SP+ rankings and FPI power rankings — to help outline these games. 

No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU

“In boxing, they say styles make fights. In this one, styles could make for an absolute brawl. This might be my favorite game of the week. No matter who has the ball, you’ll be watching two of the country’s most experienced lines going at it; when BYU has the ball, you’ll be watching two of the country’s best too,” Connelly wrote.

“... These are two of the most physical teams in the country, but if the Bears and Cougars neutralize each other in the trenches, the game could be decided by, well, everything else.”

  • SP+ projection: BYU by 1.5.
  • FPI projection: Baylor by 2.6.

ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt likes the Cougars, a three-point favorite, in this one.

“This should be a good one, too. Baylor versus BYU — as (Stanford) Steve often says, buckle up. This is a rugged matchup — BYU, the veteran group at home — and I’m laying the small number at night, so there we go,” Van Pelt wrote.

CBS Sports

Tom Fornelli made picks for a handful of games this weekend, including BYU-Baylor.

No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU

“In last year’s game, Baylor did a great job of slowing the BYU run game, but (Jaren) Hall threw for 342 yards on the Bears. On the other side, Baylor ran all over BYU, with Abram Smith going for 188 yards and Trestan Ebner going for 95,” Fornelli wrote. 

“Both are gone this year, but Baylor spread the carries around last week and appears to have good options available. Meanwhile, BYU blew USF’s defense out of the water, but the Bulls offense found room to work.” 

  • Prediction: BYU 31, Baylor 28.

USA Today

Six USA Today writers picked winners for both the BYU and Utah games, among others.

No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU

  • Scooby Axson: BYU.
  • Jace Evans: Baylor.
  • Paul Myerberg: Baylor.
  • Erick Smith: BYU.
  • Eddie Timanus: Baylor.
  • Dan Wolken: Baylor.

Southern Utah at No. 13 Utah

  • Scooby Axson: Utah.
  • Jace Evans: Utah.
  • Paul Myerberg: Utah.
  • Erick Smith: Utah.
  • Eddie Timanus: Utah.
  • Dan Wolken: Utah.

Sports Illustrated

A panel of five experts made their picks for the BYU-Baylor game, with the Bears earning the majority of votes:

No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU

  • John Garcia: Baylor.
  • Molly Geary: BYU.
  • Ross Dellenger: Baylor.
  • Richard Johnson: Baylor.
  • Pat Forde: Baylor.

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report’s Morgan Moriarty predicted the winners for each game involving a team in The Associated Press Top 25, while also projecting the final score.

No. 9 Baylor at No. 21 BYU

“It’ll be tough for Baylor to have to go on the road to face a ranked team, not to mention dealing with a time change. This one will be entertaining throughout. I think Baylor will keep this one close, but I like BYU’s experienced defense to have the better day,” Moriarty wrote.

  • Prediction: BYU 35, Baylor 30.

Southern Utah at No. 13 Utah

“This Utes team likely heads into this one pretty demoralized. Still, Utah should win big against FCS Southern Utah. Since 2006, the Utes are 11-0 against FCS teams,” Moriarty wrote.

  • Prediction: Utah 35, Southern Utah 7.