COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Vs. USF: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Sep 3, 2022, 12:07 AM | Updated: 4:20 pm

TAMPA, FLΒ – The rubber match for BYU vs USF is upon us.

Each team has won a game on its home field in this series. USF won the 2019 contest, pulling the upset over a reeling BYU team in Tampa. Then BYU defeated the Bulls last year after USF tried to make a comeback effort in the second half.

It’s now time for another tilt in Tampa. And this time, it’s a season opener.

No. 25 BYU at USF

Kickoff: 2 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPNU

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended Pregame begins at 10 a.m.)

Now it’s time for the 3-2-1 Game Day preview for today’s matchup between BYU and USF.

Three Gameday Thoughts

1. Phase one of potentially a special season for BYU.

The final year of Independence sets up well for BYU. Next season the Cougars begin life in the Big 12 Conference. But before joining the Power Five ranks, they must take care of business in 2022.

Today’s tilt against USF is game one of what could be a special year for BYU.

After back-to-back double-digit win seasons, BYU is looking for more in 2022. And for a good reason. They have quarterback Jaren Hall back after a season where he passed for 2,583 yards and completed 64% of his passes while throwing a four-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Hall’s efforts last year went unnoticed by the national media, but he’s got the chance to make people believers this year. While also having a chance of creating a meteoric rise to his NFL draft stock as Zach Wilson did two years ago.

There are talented players around Hall and loads of experience. BYU enters the season as one of the nation’s most experienced teams.

The stage is set for BYU to have a run that puts them squarely in the national conversation. But they have to take care of business first at USF. If they lost this game, say goodbye to any national talk or hopes of an at-large case for the Cotton Bowl.

2. Weather will be something to monitor

Since I arrived here in Tampa, the rain has been off and on. But when it’s on, it can reach downpour status. It cools off the area, and the humidity, which is nice. But it could cause some headaches.

There has been lightning in the area on Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings. If that happens today, it could send the game into a delay.

Both teams have considered strategies for potential lightning delays and how they would maximize that time. BYU’s last lightning delay was in 2019 in a loss against Utah.

Weather.com currently projects scattered thunderstorms around kickoff with a 43% chance of rainfall. The humidity is forecasted to be around 64%.

3. Chris Brooks makes his BYU debut

BYU running back Chris Brooks transferred to the Cougars from Cal Berkeley for his final year of college football. When Brooks arrived on campus last January, he emerged as one of the top players in the program.

Before his first spring practice, coaches say he knew BYU’s entire offensive playbook. His knowledge of the offense and the need for a featured back in replace of single-season rushing leader Tyler Allgeier, who’s now with the Atlanta Falcons, has put Brooks in a position where he is BYU’s starting ball carrier.

He will make his debut as a BYU Cougar later today, and don’t be surprised if he puts together a 100-yard day on the ground.

Two BYU vs USF Questions

1. Will Gunner Romney or Puka Nacua play?

BYU’s star receivers, Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua, were held out of many fall camp practices and scrimmages last month. KSL Sports asked head coach Kalani Sitake if the talented receiving tandem would play against the Bulls, and he didn’t give a clear answer to the question.

Romney told the KSL Sports Zone that he was “hopeful” he would play against USF. But also noted, it’s a “game-by-game” deal. We haven’t heard anything on Puka Nacua’s status.

Last year, both players combined for nine receptions and 223 yards and a touchdown in a win over USF. If neither plays today, watch for Keanu Hill, Chase Roberts, and Brayden Cosper to be key in the passing game. Along with tight ends Isaac Rex, Dallin Holker, and Masen Wake.

2. What can we expect from USF?

The Bulls are a mystery entering this game. BYU is familiar with Baylor transfer quarterback Gerry Bohanon, but he is used in Travis Trickett’s offense, is anyone’s guess. Even Kalani Sitake doesn’t know what to expect from USF on offense or defense truly.

How BYU makes in-game adjustments in the first quarter will be something to monitor. Because I’m sure there will be things, USF throws at BYU on offense and defense that catch the Cougars off guard.

USF overhauled its roster through the transfer portal and many of the new additions have been with the Bulls since January, when winter conditioning began. A total of 15 transfers joined USF’s program in January.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs USF

It would be a shocking blow for BYU if they left Tampa with a loss. Florida has never treated BYU kindly. The Cougars are 1-8 all-time in the Sunshine State. But the most recent appearance was a victory in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl.

The mystery, and weather, can only help USF so much. BYU is a preseason Top 25 team that returns nearly everyone of significance from last year’s squad. They have the better team. If they don’t make catastrophic mistakes, which they have been great at avoiding the past two years, BYU should win this by double figures.

BYU 31, USF 20

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter:Β @Mitch_Harper.

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