BYU Football: BYU @ UCLA Preview and Prediction

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Week 3: BYU @ UCLA 9/19/2015

A Little History:

UCLA leads the all-time series 7-3. In the Bronco-era BYU is 2-1 against UCLA including a 59-0 drubbing the last time the two teams met in 2008. The two teams met twice in 2007 with UCLA taking the regular season game and BYU winning in the Las Vegas Bowl. The defense has been excellent against UCLA under Bronco, allowing an average of just 14.3 ppg.

Who has the better freshman QB?

The whole nation has fallen in love with Tanner Mangum with his last second heroics two weeks in-a-row. He has experienced a few growing pains but he continues to find a way to get it done. That type of mentality will be very important this week as BYU goes up against a team that, from what we hear, should have the advantage in every facet of the game.

UCLA runs out true freshman Josh Rosen as their QB. Through two games he has an adjusted QBR of 74.4. Compare that to Mangum at 73.7 and UCLA has the slight edge at the QB position if you just look at the ratings. However, BYU has played much stiffer competition in BSU and NEB than UCLA has against UVA and UNLV. In my mind, the biggest separation between the two QB’s is that Mangum has experienced adversity and come up with big plays to help his team win late. What happens to UCLA QB Josh Rosen when he is placed in a high pressure situation? What will he do if he is faced with a game saving or winning drive in the 4th quarter?  No one knows and I think we will find out on Saturday night as BYU will be UCLA’s first real test of the season.

I am excited to watch both QB’s play on Saturday. How often do you get to see two Freshman QB’s going head to head in a top 25 matchup? I obviously don’t know the stat, but it will be fun to see how they respond to the big stage.

What BYU MUST do to win: 

I don’t want to run through all the stats comparing these two teams. Truth be told the competition level hasn’t been the same so the numbers, I feel, are skewed. If the stats really meant anything at this point in the season, Ole Miss would score 70 points a game for the rest of the season. Therefore, I want to list a few things that I think BYU needs to do to win this game.

Win the turnover battle.

Greg Wrubell tweeted this stat out this week:

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That is a pretty good indicator of success. This year BYU is 2-0 having won the turnover margin in both games. On Saturday, Mangum will make a mistake or two. It’s just going to happen.  That means the defense will have to find a way to make up for those mistakes. Nacua had 3 INT’s last week and although I don’t expect a similar individual performance, the defense will have to force 2-3 turnovers to give BYU an 88% chance of winning. The good news is that BYU is facing another freshman QB who could easily make a coupe mistakes.

Bronco’s Magic 24. 

The number worked miraculously against BSU and is a great indicator of BYU success. To get to 24 points, BYU will need to rely on the big plays that Mangum and his receivers can produce. All it takes is one big play to swing momentum and deflate the opponent. If BYU can have a couple big plays and take advantage of some UCLA miscues, they have a chance to win the game. Both sides of the ball should focus on the 24 point plateau.

Win Field Position

I don’t expect the offense to move the ball on every position like I did when Taysom was playing. As I stated before, Mangum will makes mistakes that will hurt drives and that is OK. What BYU can’t afford is a repeat performance from special teams and have the same field position disadvantage they did against BSU. The defense did amazing to hold BSU to so few points considering how often the Bronco’s were in BYU territory. UCLA will not let BYU off the hook in the field position game.

4th Quarter, #4Taysom

BYU has been winning the 4th quarter and that trend must continue this week at UCLA. Opponents have scored zero points in the 4th against the BYU defense. ZERO! And the defense has scored 7 points themselves in the 4th. I expect Saturday to be a close game, if BYU has a good day, and this is where BYU will have the advantage. BYU has played two close games and has been very good in the 4th. The team believes they will win and have come up with big plays to do it. UCLA hasn’t had a close game so far and we don’t know how they will react in pressure situations late in a game. If BYU can hang around until the 4th, I will feel pretty good about things.

Prediction

In a top 25 matchup of Freshman QB’s, I am going with the battle tested Cougars in this game. I think they will rattle the Bruin’s cage early and be able to hang around for another #MangumMiracle 4th quarter win.

BYU 27-24. 

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.