COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Vs. Oregon: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Sep 17, 2022, 1:07 AM
BYU vs Oregon, Autzen Stadium...
Autzen Stadium will play host to BYU/Oregon, a top 25 matchup on the week three college football schedule. (Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)
(Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

EUGENE, Ore. – BYU vs Oregon is a novel matchup that has the makings to be a top-shelf game on the week three college football schedule.

Oregon is looking to find an identity, while a win for BYU would keep them undefeated and have folks nationally looking at the Cougars in a different light.

Today is only the seventh meeting all-time between the two programs. In addition, it’s the first regular-season meeting since 1990.

No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: FOX

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 Oregon.

Three Gameday Thoughts

1. No one knows what to expect from Oregon

One common theme entering today’s Top 25 matchup is that no one knows what to expect from this Oregon team. What’s the identity of Oregon’s offense and defense? No one knows. BYU is a barometer game for the Ducks and it causes a leery feeling around this game for the Cougars.

Even though no one knows what to expect from Oregon, one thing everyone acknowledges is that UO has talent. Oregon might feature the most talented roster BYU faces this season. But first-time head coach Dan Lanning is still a mystery.

Today’s game will tell the story of Oregon’s fate in 2022.

2. BYU’s confidence stems from Jaren Hall

While flying into Eugene on Friday, I listened to a college football podcast. One of the hosts referred to Jaren Hall as a “game manager.” Now being a game manager is not a terrible label. But it’s far from the truth of what Hall means to BYU.

BYU defeated a Top 10 team last week in Baylor despite no rushing attack. Why? Because Jaren Hall made key plays when BYU needed him to deliver.

Hall is 7-1 in games against Power 5 opponents. At a school that prides itself on excellent quarterback play, Hall is piecing together big wins over marquee programs. Name a game where Hall appeared rattled or fazed by the stage. He hasn’t.

That relaxed, calm demeanor gives BYU the confidence going into Autzen Stadium as an underdog, that they can come out with a victory.

3. BYU needs easy scoring drives

In toss-up games like this one, you need some things to come easy to win. Against USF, BYU had an opening play 75-yard touchdown and a pick-six from Max Tooley. Quick scores. If BYU’s offense is asked to piece together 80-yard drives every time, it’s hard to come away victorious as an underdog.

During the 2020 season, BYU always had a knack in the big games for popping off a quick score to ease the mood. That would be the perfect recipe for success against Oregon.

Two BYU vs Oregon questions

1. Puka Nacua: Is he in or out?

Nacua, who is dealing with an ankle injury he suffered in the season-opening win over USF, made the trip to Eugene. The question is, will he play?

BYU coaches have held firm that the star receiver is “day-to-day.” But, if Nacua plays, it’s a game-changer to BYU’s offense and the outlook of the entire game.

2. Will Autzen Stadium sell out?

Classes at the University of Oregon don’t begin until September 26. So it’s still a small contingent of students on campus right now. Then you have Oregon fans who were probably turned off by the performance in the 46-point loss to Georgia in Atlanta.

BYU fans are expected to have a nice showing. Based on my flight into Eugene, then my Friday stroll through Autzen Stadium, there will be a strong number of royal blue-clad fans for today’s game.

Today is the first Top 25 matchup at Autzen Stadium since 2018. The Ducks have won 20 consecutive games at Autzen in the non-conference.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Oregon

BYU/Oregon might be the most challenging game to predict in my time covering BYU football, which dates back to 2014. It feels like a game that BYU should win decisively. But will BYU’s defense be able to get off the field?

The third-down defense wasn’t great against Baylor, as BYU allowed the Bears to convert on 50% of their third-down attempts. Also, it’s hard to ignore the special team’s issues from last week. BYU hasn’t come close to a perfect game yet.

The star power of Oregon is hard to deny. Oregon has an offensive line that hasn’t given up a sack yet. BYU is coming off a week where they had four sacks, but their top defensive end Tyler Batty is dealing with an injury. Oregon QB Bo Nix has had his share of struggles in his college career, but he’s also won big games. This one would be near the top if he pulled it off.

Oregon puts together their best performance of the year to barely edge out BYU.

Oregon 27, BYU 26

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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