BYU Football: BYU @ Michigan Preview and Prediction

BYU's Mitch Matthews

Week 4: BYU @ Michigan 9/26/15

My Dilemma

I am actually having a really hard time making a confident pick for this game. It seems when BYU becomes nationally relevant they have a HUGE let down game. However, that usual let down in years past would have happened last week at UCLA but it didn’t happen. BYU actually played really well, minus the rush defense. We learned a lot about BYU last week and the pollsters actually gave BYU a lot of respect for their 1-point loss at UCLA. I think the final test for if the Cougars have actually “arrived” will be if they can go to Ann Arbor and take down the Wolverines.

Michigan doesn’t actually look too bad themselves. Their only loss came in their first game of the year, at Utah. That was the first game under coach Jim Harbaugh and they had some kinks but still came out with only a one possession loss (24-17) with the real deciding factor being a defensive pick-six for the Utes. Not a bad outcome considering the circumstances and playing in Rice Eccles against a now ranked Utah team. If Michigan does win on Saturday, many in the nation will start the talk that Michigan Football is back. They could even hop in to the rankings.

The Deciding Factors

Tuiloma?

The biggest question mark for me is if BYU NG Tuiloma will be available for this game. Some rumors on Twitter (some by Tuiloma himself) have opened the possibility that he might play, but I doubt it. However, his presence changes the dynamic of BYU’s defense. I wrote a few weeks ago that when he left the Nebraska game with the MCL injury, the Huskers running game began to pick up. BYU compensated OK without him against BSU but UCLA, obviously, had their way in the running game. If he is back, BYU will be much tougher against the run with him closing the gaps up front. His addition would be huge against the hard running style of Harbaugh.

Who wins the red-zone?

BYU has been excellent about getting points when they are in the blue-zone. On the season, BYU is 9-9 in the blue-zone. They have 6 TD’s and 3 FG’s. That is good enough for a tie for #1 in the country. But do you know who else is tied for #1? Michigan. They are 10-10 in the red-zone with 8 TD’s and 2 FG’s. Both teams take care of business in the red-zone, at least offensively. This is where the Michigan defense gives the Wolverines the advantage. Michigan is #13 in the nation in red-zone defense. BYU? Tied for 68th. Advantage goes to Michigan.

Turnover margin?

BYU is +4 in turnovers this season and had 3 INT’s against UCLA. Conversely, Michigan is -2. If BYU can make Michigan one dimensional by taking away the passing game they will have a good chance in this game. Michigan QB Jake Rudock has thrown 5 INT’s in three games. Mangum did throw one but it was a forced ball on the last 4th down. BYU should once again have the advantage in turnovers this weekend and they will need them. The only reason BYU may have been in the game against UCLA was that BYU essentially forced 4 turnovers (3 INT’s, 1 onside kick recovery).

Prediction:

Again, this is a tough call for me. BYU has been playing in big games and traveling a lot these first few weeks. Will it finally catch up to them this week? I think BYU will have to put up more points than they have been to win this game.

35-31 BYU.

About the author

Justin Burr

I am an avid sports fan, especially BYU football and Yankee baseball. I watch basically any and every game I can. Currently living in NYC for school and work mean I get my Cougar fix with ESPN and the KSL 1160 app. Hit me up @jburr21.

  • David Strong

    I have developed a program that predicts out comes and runs simulations of BYU games. It has been pretty accurate so far.
    1) @ Nebraska, it had BYU winning 2/3rds of the simulations by an average score of 33-28
    2) vs. BSU it had BYU winning 3/4ths of the simulations by an average score of 26-22
    3) @ UCLA it had the Cougars only winning 20% of the simulation with an average score of 24-30
    The prediction it is giving me for the Michigan game doesn’t seem terribly likely, but it is what the algorithm predicts. It has BYU winning 54% of the simulations with an average score of 12-12.
    Michigan has an excellent defense, but a struggling and inconsistent offense. BYU has shown they can play great pass D and great run D, but haven’t been able to do both in the same game. Fortunately, the Wolverine passing attack hasn’t been particularly threatening. They managed 123 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. I think BYU can and will slow down the Michigan running game. It will cost their pass defense some, but I don’t think UM QB Jake Rudock being able to take advantage.
    Frankly I think this could end statistically not to different from the Utah vs Michigan game. BYU puts 8 in the box to stop the run, Rudock gets 250 passing yards, but is intercepted twice and the Wolverines only end up scoring 17 points.
    BYU’s emerging run game will be almost completely shut down in the first half followed my some moderate success in the second half. BYU will be able to nickel and dime its way to a couple scores with its short passing game and occasional run. There will be one, maybe 2 big plays in the passing game which should give the cougars just enough to come home with the win 20-17.

  • Realistic Optimist

    Justin, as always, I enjoyed your post. I agree with your outcome for the game.
    35-31 BYU. This sounds about right.

    Las Vegas favors Michigan 5.5 – 6.5.

    We are ranked above Michigan at from 22 to 24 while Michigan is unranked below 39.

    I believe mathamatically, considering Las Vegas odds, Saragin, CBS, ESPN Power, AP and Coaches poll which average puts us up by 14, but we seldom reach our potential, so my guesstamation is BYU by anywhere in the range of 4-7 points. This agrees with your

    porgnostication.

  • James Blevins

    “Michigan QB Jake Rudock has thrown 5 INT’s in three games. Mangum didn’t throw any last week at UCLA.”

    Only if his last pass doesn’t count. 😉

  • Wahului

    To begin with, “Michigan QB Jake Rudock has thrown 5 INT’s in three games. Mangum didn’t throw any last week at UCLA.” What do you think killed the final drive for BYU? If a BYU receiver catches that last ball, it’s a short field goal to a 2-point win. BYUtv has the tape on DVR; watch it. Also, this game is scheduled to be played on a football field, not in math class.