If the Utes can lose to Oregon State, take a week off and climb up in the AP rankings, Kyle Whittingham’s team will certainly chew up and spit out the Cal Bears, and BYU may just knock off TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday.
Both the Cougars and Utes desperately needed the week off, a span of recuperation days that turned into almost two weeks. Hopefully the Utes will get back some injured players, including running back Ja’Quinden Jackson. Who knows, weekly decoy QB Cam Rising may even make an appearance. Or not.
Cougars on the air
BYU (1-1, 4-1)
at TCU (1-2, 3-3)
Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m. MDT
Amon G. Carter Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM
The Cougars may get back linebacker Ben Bywater from a shoulder injury suffered at Kansas (although it sounds doubtful) and receiver Kody Epps may make it back on the field.
Utah’s defense is simply too stout for Cal to win at Rice-Eccles. Even with some issues on offense, Utah can score with its defense and cause enough havoc to cut out a victory heading into the toughest part of its schedule.
BYU will need to slow down TCU’s run game. The Horned Frogs are struggling to match the form of a year ago with that appearance in the CFP championship game. The Cougars are an underdog but not as bad as it looked when the season began.
BYU will need to keep its offense on the field in this game to give Jay Hill’s defense a chance to avoid facing so many plays from TCU’s offense. Slovis is 98 of 165 for 1,240 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been intercepted three times but is completing 59% of his passes in five games; the Cougars have yet to play their best on both sides of the ball.
Utes on the air
No. 16 Utah (4-1)
vs. Cal (3-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700/92.1 FM
This past summer, local radio 1280 AM featured a series called “60 in 60” wherein a panel of anonymous media members ranked the top college football players in the state. While I don’t know any media outside of the station who were asked to help with the promotion, it was a talent-based list of featured players.
The top 10 in that station’s “60 on 60” included 1. Cam Rising, QB, Utah; 2. Kingsley Suamataia, OL, BYU; 3. Brant Kuithe, TE, Utah; 4. Cole Bishop, safety, Utah; 5. Ja’Quinden Jackson, RB, Utah; 6. Karene Reid, LB, Utah; 7. Isaac Reid, TE, BYU; 8. Kedon Slovis, QB, BYU; 9. Lander Barton, LB, Utah; 10. Keaton Bills, OL, Utah.
Of that top 10, Rising and Kuithe have unfortunately not been able to play a game this season. No. 5 Jackson will hopefully be back on the field Saturday after missing part of the UCLA game and all of the Oregon State game with a nagging ankle injury.
Bishop, Reid and Barton have lived up to expectations, playing key roles in Utah’s storied defense ranked high in most NCAA defensive categories. Bishop has 26 total tackles and two interceptions behind tackle leader Sione Vaki with 28. Barton has 21 total tackles and a pick-six. Reid, who also has missed time this season due to injury, has 21 tackles and one interception.
The Utes’ Jackson has missed playing time but has 239 yards on 39 carries for a 6.1 yard per carry average.
BYU’s Rex and Slovis have been a dependable pair in BYU’s offense and teammate Suamataia has lived up to this reputed athletic freakiness in wins over Arkansas and Cincinnati; all have played a big role in the Cougars’ 4-1 start.
BYU has three defenders with more than 30 tackles, including team leader Max Tooley (38), AJ Vongphachanh (34) and Ben Bywater ( 32). Corner Jakob Robinson has 27 tackles with three interceptions.
BYU’s had two stalwart performers step up in true freshman runnig back LJ Martin (72 carries for 289 yards, four TDs) and receiver Chase Roberts (24 catches, 358 yards, three TDs and a 15 yard average per catch).
It would be a fun exercise for the “60 in 60” list to be updated with performance information that represents not a projected talent list, but a game delivery.
This week’s picks
- Iowa State 31, Cincinnati 21.
- Kansas 34, Oklahoma State 27.
- Texas Tech 38, Kansas State 31.
- Utah 17, California 3.
- Washington 34, Oregon State 31.
- Washington State 27, Arizona 17.
- Southern Cal 38, Notre Dame 34.
- Oregon State 27, UCLA 24.
- Colorado State 24, Boise State 21.
- Florida State 37, Syracuse 10.
- BYU 24, TCU 21.
Week 5: 10-3; Overall 55-17 (.763).