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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/Oregon Game

Sep 16, 2022, 10:44 AM
BYU Oregon, Jaren Hall...
Quarterback Jaren Hall is one of the top players that will be on the field in the BYU/Oregon matchup. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

EUGENE, Ore. – Saturday in the Pacific Northwest, BYU/Oregon is one of the top games on the week three college football slate.

It’s the first regular-season matchup between these two programs since 1990. A game that BYU lost when ranked as the No. 4 team in the country with Ty Detmer as the quarterback.

The last time these two faced each other was in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, a game that saw BYU annihilate Oregon, 38-8.

Looking ahead to Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium, both teams are in the Top 25. Undefeated BYU comes into the matchup ranked No. 12, and Oregon, at 1-1, is No. 25 in the week three AP Top 25 poll.

BYU/Oregon Storylines

The kickoff for Saturday’s game is 1:30 p.m. (MT) on FOX and KSL NewsRadio. BYU’s last appearance in a network FOX game was in 2018 against Washington, also a Top 25 matchup.

Here are three storylines that could determine the winner of BYU/Oregon.

#1 BYU’s defensive line vs. Oregon’s offensive line

The BYU defense was questioned as the potential weakness for the Cougars in 2022. However, after seeing BYU hold Baylor to 2.9 yards per carry and record four sacks, BYU’s defense proved they’ve improved from last season.

The challenge doesn’t ease up this week, especially in the trenches.

BYU will face an Oregon offensive line that has not allowed a sack yet this season. One of those games was against an FCS team in Eastern Washington. It helps BYU that they go up against one of the top offensive lines daily in practice, but Oregon is another blue chip offensive line.

BYU’s defensive and Oregon offensive lines have questions regarding injured players entering this Top 25 clash. Oregon starting guard Ryan Walk missed last week, but there’s optimism he will play this week. In replace of him last week was former Corner Canyon High lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson. For BYU, Tyler Batty is currently day-to-day due to an abdominal strain he suffered in the first half against Baylor.

If Batty isn’t available, watch for BYU defensive ends Fisher Jackson and Weber State transfer Logan Lutui.

#2 Status of BYU’s star receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney

BYU media isn’t allowed to view practices during the regular season. But we see the players walk off the field when practice concludes. Neither of BYU’s star receivers, Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney, were present at practice when the media was on the field.

Their status entering the Oregon game remains “day-to-day.” BYU Passing Game Coordinator Fesi Sitake said Wednesday that both receivers “have been practicing and doing individual drills.”

Puka Nacua is still dealing with an ankle injury he suffered in the season-opening win over USF. Romney has not appeared in either of BYU’s first two games due to an undisclosed injury that BYU OC Aaron Roderick said is not a “football injury.”

We will have a better idea closer to the kickoff on the availability of BYU’s star receivers.

If Nacua and Romney are unavailable, watch for redshirt freshman Chase Roberts. Roberts had a breakout performance in BYU’s win over Baylor, hauling in eight catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Something to keep in mind, Roberts has likely been elevated on the scouting report by opponents like Oregon. Don’t be surprised if BYU turns to the tight ends in Isaac Rex, Dallin Holker, and Masen Wake more if the opportunity is there.

#3 Bo Nix in a big game

When sizing up big games, quarterbacks always become a huge focus. Looking at this matchup, BYU has the sizable edge over Oregon at QB, with Jaren Hall leading the Cougars. Hall is 7-1 against Power Five opponents and has always performed well in big stages.

On the other sideline is Oregon and former Auburn QB Bo Nix.

Nix showed last week in a blowout win over Eastern Washington that he can execute at a high level within this Kenny Dillingham offense. Last week, Nix passed for a career-high five touchdowns and his best QBR (205.4) since week one last season.

On the flip side, Nix struggled in week one against the defending National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. So, how does he perform against BYU’s defense after witnessing two extremes?

If BYU finds a way to force takeaways against Nix early, it could take the air out of Autzen Stadium. And the hope that Oregon would come away with a big win early in the Dan Lanning tenure would start to be in doubt. BYU’s multiple defensive fronts could cause some confusion for Nix, and BYU can play a lot of man coverage in the secondary.

No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon

Date: Saturday, September 17, 2022

Kick: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

Location: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Oregon)

TV: FOX

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

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: @Mitch_Harper.

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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/Oregon Game