(15) BYU -34.5 over UTSA (bought half) -120
In almost 11 years, we’ve encountered our worst start ever to open the CFB campaign. What else could 2020 bring, you ask? Hopefully comebacks, starting with week 5. Recognizing that from here things could only go upward, we start off a more lengthy, broader schedule with the undefeated, 15th ranked Cougars (3-0), hosting the UTSA Roadrunners (3-1 1-1) out of C-USA, from Lavell Edwards Stadium. Last week, Zach Wilson (24/26 328 2 TD) looked every bit and more like Russell Wilson (8-43 5.4 3 TD) accounting for 5 total TD as the Cougars routed the La Tech Bulldogs 45-14. Completing a career high 92% of his passes, Wilson didn’t waste much time doing what he does best propelling BYU to a 21 point second quarter breaking a 7 all tie. Both of Wilson’s scoring passes were 22 yards to paydirt finding Carter Wheat (2-30) and Gunner ROmney (7-101) sandwiched by a one yard run into the end zone by Tyler Allgeier (10-93 9.3 1 TD). BYU recorded 513 yards in total offense, and despite not forcing any turnovers got 4 sacks from Tyler Batty. Luke Anthony (19/27 191 2 TD 1 INT) played respectably but was relatively contained by the Cougar defense, which held UTSA to just 74 yards rushing. Meanwhile, UTSA hung in tough before succumbing to UAB 21-13 last week. Bryson Lucero (18/29 195 3 TD 3 INT) was far from his best but made the plays when they counted, fortunate without the Roadrunners taking full advantages of his miscues. Myron Mitchell (6-65 1 TD) caught an 18 yard TD pass from Lucero to give the Blazers the lead for good late in the first half, and followed it up with scoring passes of 15 and 21 yards to Gerrit Prince (2-36 2 TD). Spencer Brown (26-144 5.5) led a ground attack that produced 214 yards despite unable to find the end zone. While Lucero finished relatively mediocre and was a ble to produce all of UAB’s scoring, Jordan Weeks (7/19 57 1 INT) was miserable and could never really establish a rhythm making successful throws. Sincere McCormick (22-150 6.8 1 TD) scored on a 2 yard run late in the 4th quarter to cut the deficit to one possession, but it wasn’t enough as Hunter Duplessis provided the only other Roadrunner offense with 2 field goals.
Not many expected BYU to come out of the gate with such dominance in doing so undefeated thus far. The Cougars aren’t exactly minding the independent life, however if they hope to be considered for at the very least a NYE6 or National Championship consideration, a step up in class when it comes to scheduling is virtually essential having to rely on major conference powers slipping up. Wilson (60/72 949 6 TD 1 INT) has been super accurate thus far albeit against tepid competition, however you cannot ignore his 83% efficiency rate plus his targets. Romney (16-373 2 TD) is his top target downfield averaging nearly 24 yards per catch, while Dax Milne (17-264 1 TD) is a solid second option who tallied 7 grabs at 90 yards last week. In the ground game, Wilson has already accounted for 5 scores thus far and has a dual depth threat in the backfield featuring Allgeier (34-275 8.1 3 TD) and Lopini Katoa (32-178 5.6 2 TD). BYU’s quick strike offense has averaged nearly 50 points per contest, and that output could be even higher had it not been for head coach Kalani Sitake eventually calling off the dogs in his previous blowouts over Navy and Troy. At 30-25 thus far into his 5th season, he could be coaching for his job as this is his best opportunity to pay dividends sporting this talented bunch. This top ranked offense in the nation has piled up an average of 586 total yards with the 5th rated passing game overall. That’s not boding well for a UTSA defense yielding 447 total yards and nearly 29 points per contest, while allowing 301 passing yards on average. They do have some talented corners in Cassius Grady and safety Dadrian Taylor who each are responsible for 2 of UTSA’s 7 picks thus far. Grady and Rashard Wisdom also lead the team with 31 total tackles apiece which speaks volumes given the fact that BYU, like all of their opponents, are going to have their foot on the gas especially early which could give UTSA momentum to break up the tempo if they can make plays.
The Roadrunners are certainly no pushovers themselves, and were tested right out of the gate by in state rivals Texas St before winning a near triple digit total output by a field goal in OT. Frank Harris (53/80 508 3 TD 1 INT) got off to a great start before suffering an upper body injury prior to the UAB game and is listed as out for the season. Weeks is going to have to be a lot better than last week in order to challenge BYU play for play given the size and class disadvantage. Joshua Ceephus (22-205 3 TD) has been sharp but will need to be a primitive target in an otherwise limited arsenal. Brennon Dingle (14-191) has also shown flashes but will have to be more aggressive as he has not found the end zone this far. McCormick (89-527 5.9 4 TD) is the ground workhorse and may propose a challenge to BYU, whose rushing defense allows only 71 yards , 6th overall in the nation. The Cougs are yielding only 214 total yards and 8 points per contest, second in the country. In 2019, the Cougars had just 17 sacks. In three games of the COVID 19 campaign, they’ve already recorded 13. Batty added a concept of depth after a slow start in his first 3 games. Kennan Pill leads the team with 20 tackles overall while Isaiah Kaufusi and Khiyris Tonga each have a couple of sacks as well. Sitake has praised Ilasia Tualki showing heart and discipline thus far equally stressing the importance of their defense which leads to their momentum taking advantage of short fields and making plays on subsequent possessions. It’s what makes the Cougars so dangerous especially when they can just control clock and tempo if they are spotted out to early leads by the time the second half takes shape.
Even though this spread is extremely large, I think that there is a serious talent disparity present within this matchup. Those who know my style, that speaks my language and volumes. BYU has more talent, depth, and athleticism on both sides of the ball, so if you think you’re watching a rerun of the first 3 games, you might want to turn your sets off early in this one. In what was easily and should have been a winnable game for the Roadrunners at UAB, the coach will turn even more into a pumpkin swirling UTSA back to earth when all is said and done.
I’ll have a second play for Saturday later on.