3 Things BYU has to do to Beat Utah
There is no question that BYU Football is not favored to beat the Utes, so they will have to execute in three specific areas to have a chance to win.
More and more articles are coming out about Utah all of a sudden being "favored to go to the CFP". I'm still not buying all of the hype, but there is no doubt that the Utes are, and should be the favorite in the first game of the season against the Cougars.
Since it is a rivalry game and at home, the Cougars have a much better chance than they actually should have on paper. Despite this, they are going to need at least three things to go their way if they hope to come out on top at the end of the game.
1 - Win the Turnover Battle
This is an obvious one. Since the streak began for the Utes the Cougars are an overall -12 in the turnover battle, and have only won the battle once, in 2016 when the Cougars were a two point conversion away from winning the game. The Cougars have been within one score in all of the games that were either decided by one or less negative turnovers. If they can get a +2 or even a +1 they will set themselves up nicely.
2. Go Fast, Go Hard
The strength of the Utes is their defensive line and that has to be what the offense attacks. Last season when the Cougars were running faster paced offense, the Ute defensive line had a hard time making a huge impact in the game. Once the game slowed down, Wilson was contained, sacked, forced out the pocket and the running backs were stuffed at the line of scrimmage. There is no reason to think anything would change this season. If the Cougars can snap the ball with about 20 seconds on the play clock each down, the defensive line may be worn down enough to open up the running game and give Wilson time in the pocket.
3. Control the Field
Against popular opinion, the Cougars shouldn't go for it on 4th down unless it is an extremely obvious time to do it. Utah's offense will be good this season, but it would probably take a lot of time and a lot of plays for Utah to go down 90+ yards on a drive. In a game controlled by momentum, the Cougars can't afford to go for it at the 40 yard line and fail, setting up a Ute touchdown at worst or a long field after a Ute punt at best.
As a general rule, the Cougars should punt the ball and keep the Utes on their side of the field as long as possible. Without Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah will struggle to really out punt the Cougars resulting in a strategy that could pay off the Cougars.