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In any other year, hosting Oklahoma would be a season-high experience for BYU and fans. But in a three-game losing streak that has featured dominating blowouts, it’s more than scary. A struggling Cougars team with QB issues will take on the Sooners on Saturday morning in a nationally televised event.

Cougars on the air

No. 14 Oklahoma (5-2, 8-2)
at BYU (2-5, 5-5)
Saturday, 10 a.m. MST
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

A frustrated Kalani Sitake called the loss to Iowa State embarrassing after the 45-13 loss at home but emerged Monday telling the media he was excited for the challenge of playing Oklahoma. His team must fix a host of issues, including fundamental tackling, assignment mastery, and matters of execution on both sides of the ball. BYU’s defense misses tackles Caden Haws and John Nelson, neither of whom may not play again Saturday.

Here are some headlines from BYU’s loss to Iowa State:

  • Have BYU players lost focus with scheme? (Jay Drew)
  • BYU struggles with P5 competition (Jay Drew)
  • Loss wasn’t surprise but painful (Dick Harmon)

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: If Kedon Slovis is healthy, do you start him Saturday against Oklahoma on Senior Day, or continue the investment in Jake Retzlaff and develop him with playing time? Predict the score.

Jay Drew:  I’m on record saying the Cougars should stick with Jake Retzlaff, and I’m going to stick with my guns from here on out. Frankly, it wouldn’t matter if Steve Young or Jim McMahon or Ty Detmer walked through the LaVell Edwards Stadium doors and played this week against Oklahoma, the Cougars wouldn’t pull out the win. There are just too many issues all over the field, particularly with the defense, to see anything but another blowout happening.

Retzlaff didn’t play well against Iowa State, but did a reasonable job in his first start against West Virginia. The competition goes up another notch or two this week and next, but now is the time to see what the junior college transfer can do. I feel badly for Slovis, but the Cougars have to do what is in the best interest of the program long term, and that is clearly getting Retzlaff as many reps as possible this year.

Prediction: Oklahoma 48, BYU 24

Dick Harmon: The good news is Jake Retzlaff is getting developmental playing time without losing his year of eligibility. These games won’t count at all on his clock because of the four-game redshirt rule by the NCAA. He also gets a bowl game without it counting. The bad news is Retzlaff’s learning curve comes against West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State if he remains the starter. This toss of Retzlaff into the fire can stymie his growth or refine his skills fast on a steep curve. Surely, it will show what he’s made of.  

While Oklahoma’s defense isn’t as good as league leader Iowa State, it ranks No. 1 in the nation in interceptions, and Retzlaff’s first pass last week against the Cyclones was an interception. Retzlaff was BYU’s leading rusher last week with more than 80 yards before sacks were figured in. That mobility gives BYU a chance to move the ball and make a defense respect his legs. He will need to complete close to 60% of his passes to be a big factor in the next two games. The trouble is, there are so many things breaking down with this BYU team that creating a win is almost unreachable.

I think if Slovis is healthy and shows in practice that he throws a higher percentage ball, the Retzlaff experiment should be put on delay. But if Slovis isn’t more accurate, stay with Retzlaff, absorb the bullets and watch him progress. One thing is certain to me, BYU’s success the past 40 years is centered on having a QB who can deliver elite plays. When this does not happen, the Cougars become average very quickly. 

Prediction: Oklahoma 45, BYU 28.

Cougar tales

Mark Pope witnessed an outstanding effort in a win over San Diego State last week and gets another glimpse at his team Wednesday when Southeastern Louisiana comes to town. BYU’s women’s soccer team protected its No. 1 seed by defeating Utah State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and now hosts USC on Thursday in the second round. BYU’s cross-country teams will compete for national championships on Saturday in Earlysville, Virginia.

From the archives

Kalani Sitake says Kedon Slovis will be BYU’s starting QB vs. Oklahoma — if he’s healthy
BYU QB commit Enoch Watson learning from most prolific QBs in Cougar history

From the X-verse

Extra Points


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Retzlaff will play much better if he ever gets adequate protection from his offensive line (possibly next year?). He threw for 4,500 yards and 44 touchdowns last year, admittedly at the JC level, so he needs to learn to play at the Power Five level (he looked OK in his first start).

— Jimrayoden

Unfortunately. the PAC12 patsies didn’t prepare BYU for the BIG12 like everyone had hoped. The only thing that will prepare for the BIG12 is the BIG12. BYU has been punched right in the mouth by some midlevel teams. These last two games ARE the bowl games. Wins don’t matter any longer. What matters is how much fight is left in the dog and that is what most BYU fans want to see from a team that seems to be on life support ... including the coaches.

— Periloustimes

Up next

  • Nov. 15-18 | Swimming | Mizzou Invitational | @ Columbia, Missouri
  • Nov. 16 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer| NCAA tournament | USC | @ Provo
  • Nov. 17 | 7 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | Kansas | @ Provo
  • Nov. 18 | TBA | Cross-country | NCAA Championships | @ Earlysville, Virginia
  • Nov. 18 | 10 a.m. | Football | Oklahoma | @ Provo
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Kedon Slovis (10) warms up prior to the game with the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.
BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis (warms up prior to the game with the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. Hampered by injuries, will Slovis be under center against Oklahoma if his injuries have improved? | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News