COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Vs. Utah Tech: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Nov 19, 2022, 1:02 AM
BYU/Utah Tech, Game Preview, Puka Nacua...
One of the key players to watch in the BYU/Utah Tech game is wide receiver Puka Nacua. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU/Utah Tech, it’s a game you never thought you’d see in your wildest dreams. But in many ways, it’s the perfect end to home games at LaVell Edwards Stadium in BYU’s Independence era.

Home games in November for BYU since 2011 have been out of sight and out of mind on the national college football landscape. Today is the latest example of that.

But this game holds significance for BYU for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s senior day. A whopping 37 BYU players will be honored with a senior blanket. Then it’s also a game that BYU needs to clinch bowl eligibility. College football teams need at least six wins to qualify for a bowl game. BYU comes into Saturday’s tilt with Utah Tech at 5-5.

BYU vs Utah Tech

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

TV: BYUtv

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 preview for today’s matchup between BYU and Utah Tech.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. Big 12 bye weeks will bring normalcy to BYU football schedules

BYU is the only college football team in America that played for 10 consecutive weeks without a bye. After an upset victory over Boise State, the momentum from the win then rolled into a bye in November.

It’s the reality of playing an Independent schedule. But the Independent days are nearly numbered as next year will bring a power five schedule to BYU for the first time as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

With Big 12 membership BYU will have byes in late September or October, basically what everyone else does in the sport.

Why does this matter today? BYU has to come out of a bye week to play Utah Tech. Typically bye weeks are used to make corrections and prepare for a big opponent. So how dialed in will BYU be today for today’s game?

2. If this is it for Jaren Hall & Puka Nacua, it has been a great ride

BYU stars Jaren Hall and Puka Nacua will be honored today as part of the 37-player Senior Day list. They can return to BYU for one more year due to the COVID year. Unless there is a boatload of NIL money waiting for them next season, it’s hard to imagine turning down the NFL. Both players are draft picks, so why not go?

Hall and Nacua are two of the all-time greats at their positions in BYU football’s history. Nacua might be the best receiver to come through BYU, and Hall is a top-10 signal-caller.

If this is the final senior day with them in BYU blue, enjoy them, Cougar fans, because they are a dynamic duo with the potential for greater success in the NFL.

3. I’m intrigued by Utah Tech’s offense

Before I dive into this, I want it to be clear; I believe BYU will win this game. But this is the most intriguing game for BYU against an FCS team since they hosted Northern Iowa in 2008. The Trailblazers have offensive firepower at the skill positions, and their offensive coordinator has Power Five experience.

Utah Tech’s “Spread-N-Shred’ offense is the brainchild of Craig Stutzman. Stutzman was the offensive coordinator at Washington State last year. Due to his vaccination status, not his coaching, he was let go from the Palouse. Stutzman has already led an offense that has beaten BYU in the past. That was Hawaii in 2019 in the Hawaii Bowl.

Wide receiver Joey Hobert is a Power Five level talent that had an offer from BYU out of high school. He’s the best receiver in the FCS ranks this year. Don’t be surprised if Utah Tech puts up numbers on BYU’s defense, which is still flawed despite the impressive breakthrough against Boise State.

Two BYU vs Utah Tech Questions

1. Will we see Jacob Conover?

If Jaren Hall is moving on, who’s the next quarterback for BYU in year one of the Big 12? In a perfect world, the keys are tossed to Jacob Conover, who is in his third year with the program.

BYU should be able to pull away from Utah Tech early in the third quarter, opening the door for Conover to play. If he does get in, keep airing it out and let him operate. Give him a chance to put out some film and an early audition to be the next QB1 at BYU.

2. Which running back gets the early workload?

According to BYU running backs coach Harvey Unga, Chris Brooks is expected to be available today against the Trailblazers. The same goes for Miles Davis. So outside of Jackson McChesney, BYU should have its entire stable of running backs available. Hinckley Ropati was a star in the receiving game for BYU against Boise State, but Lopini Katoa has been a reliable rusher since Brooks left in the Liberty game.

My bet would be on Katoa to still be ball carrier number one, with Brooks as the number two.

One score prediction for BYU vs Utah Tech

I expect BYU’s offense to put up some big numbers in this game. But don’t be surprised if Utah Tech gets its fair share of points. BYU cruises in the second half with the second and third team players to close out the final home game of the Independence era.

BYU 59, Utah Tech 28

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 Mitch and his BYU/Utah Tech coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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