When I was a kid, there were fewer nights with more anticipation than Christmas Eve. What would Santa have in store for me come Christmas morning?
Those days are long gone since Kris Kringle and I seem to be on the same page these days and there are very few surprises on December 25. Now my gut is wrenching on the eve of something just as great. College football is here. What will the Utah Utes have in store for me tomorrow? Unlike seasons past, I am less confident about what Thursday will bring. There are just too many unknowns about this Utah team. Santa has done a fantastic job of double and triple-wrapping this present to keep it out of our view ahead of the big day. Now the time for talking is done. Actions alone will show how good you are.
So, as many of us head to the store to stock up on the cold ones (Mt. Dew or Dr. Pepper for this guy), here’s a six-pack of predictions for Thursday night’s game.
1) Utah’s offense will be better than the bunch that took the field last September in Logan. Yes, Utah scored 20 points in that game, and missed a FG at the wire that would have changed the outcome, but at times that unit was very inept. Expect Utah’s offensive line to have a better showing in the trenches. The offensive gameplan will be an improvement under Erickson. Kenneth Scott will be every bit the beast he was last year. Look for other receivers to make their mark also.
2) Utah will run for over 100 yards and still give up even more rushing yards to the Aggies. Utah’s massive offensive line against Utah State’s 3-4 scheme will lead to some decent holes up front for Kelvin York and Bubba Poole. Still, Chuckie Keaton and the Aggies next NFL running back (whomever it is) will have enough success between designed read option plays and Keaton’s scrambles to outgain Utah on the ground.
3) Maybe the most bold prediction of all, but after you subtract Keaton’s rushing yards on Thursday, Travis Wilson will have been the better QB. Much of this will boil down to Utah’s deep wide receiver talent getting separation in Utah State’s defensive backfield. Scott, Dres Anderson, Jake Murphy and Westlee Tonga will be too much for the Aggie’s corners and safeties. That’s not to say Keaton won’t have a good game, just that Wilson will be the better passer on Thursday.
4) Joe Kruger was kicked out of the game last year and discipline will play a major role this time around. It’s really to be expected in a rivalry game, but someone will lose their cool and cost their team. I predict at least three first downs will come as a result of a personal foul penalty. At least one of those will lead to a critical score in the game.
5) The game will be closer than fans on either side are expecting but Utah will cover the spread by a final score of UofU 30 – USU 24. Currently Vegas has the Utes as a three-point favorite which is essentially what they get for being the home team. At a neutral site, this game is a pick ’em. A hostile environment will prove a difficult challenge for Coach Wells and the Aggies. Either a huge special teams blunder or impressive play will shape the outcome of the game.
6) Regardless of the outcome, BYU fans will say they could have beat either team with ease because Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman are that good! In parting, Utah State and Utah fans will come together in their hatred for BYU and tell their most recent enemy to “please beat the Cougars.”
I’ll be back after the game to eat crow when none of this happens.