The battle of the Cougars will take place this Saturday at Reliant Stadium as BYU (4-2) leaves the state of Utah for the first time since week 1 to take on undefeated Houston (5-0). BYU’s season is looking much brighter as of late and has me dreaming of a 10-2 finish. First things first, BYU has to take care of business on Saturday. BYU has the edge in total defense (shocker, right?) at #25 nationally with Houston coming in at #59. The Houston offense is #27 in total offense which is slightly better than BYU who comes in at #30. Given BYU’s recent offensive success and the relatively easy schedule Houston has played, I give BYU the edge on both sides of the ball.
Last week I predicted that the BYU offense would have zero turnovers against Georgia Tech and they did it. That was a huge step in the right direction after having 5 turnovers against Middle Tennessee State a few weeks prior. If BYU plans to win this game, as they should, then they simply need to protect the football. Houston comes into the game #1 in the country in turnover margin at +14. In comparison BYU comes in at #96 with a -3 turnover margin. Hill’s accuracy has been better recently and last week he didn’t throw an INT for the first time this season. I am also taking into account that being undefeated but unranked means that Houston has played some pretty bad teams. I do think BYU has a turnover or two but still has great success on offense.
Prediction: BYU totals more than 500 yards of total offense.
Cody Hoffman is likely going to set the BYU record for career receptions this week. Hoffman comes into the game tied with Dennis Pitta with 221 career receptions and needs only one reception to take over the top spot. Take some time this weekend to enjoy watching Cody Hoffman play as he is one of the greatest receivers to ever put on the Cougar uniform.
Every time I write about the BYU defense it feels like Groundhog Day. They are just always the same, consistently good. My statistic of note this week is that they spend a lot of time on the field. BYU is 110th in the country in time of possession. To their credit the BYU defense has never seemed to tire. This week I suspect that the time of possession will be about even because Houston comes in at 111th nationally in time of possession. Having the ball so little is not necessarily a bad thing (Oregon is 113th nationally), it just means that when both teams score they do it quickly. Houston is averaging 39.8 points per game but has not played a team with a defense in the top 75. I expect the Houston offense to struggle against BYU and make some mistakes.
Prediction: BYU wins the turnover battle again this week.
Normally when BYU is playing an undefeated team I would be a little more concerned, but not this week. This game seems like a tune-up for BYU before they play BSU and Wisconsin. I expect a relatively big win and some playing time for the backups. I just hope the team doesn’t go in as relaxed as I am.
Prediction: BYU 37, Houston 17