COUGAR TRACKS

BYU vs. Texas: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Oct 27, 2023, 6:10 PM

AUSTIN, Texas – BYU vs Texas is a matchup that is taking place for the sixth meeting all time. But it’s the first as conference foes.

That will only be the case once as Texas prepares to head out to the SEC next year while BYU continues to settle into its new home in the Big 12 Conference.

BYU comes into the matchup in Austin with a 5-2 record, 2-2 in Big 12 play. Texas is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12.

BYU vs No. 7 Texas

Location: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

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

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame begins at 9 a.m.

It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week nine matchup against the Texas Longhorns.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. Turnover margin is the top priority for BYU

When entering a game as a big underdog, turnovers are critical. If BYU wants to have a chance to be within striking distance going into the fourth quarter, they need the edge in the turnover margin.

BYU has shown that’s who they are. The Cougars are third nationally in turnover margin. They have a defense that has shown an ability to create takeaways.

Reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, Eddie Heckard is one of the top playmakers on the BYU defense to come up with takeaways.

The defensive line led by Tyler Batty has to pressure Maalik Murphy to put him in situations where the odds of making a mistake increase.

2. Play with nothing to lose

BYU, as an underdog, is a much more inviting prospect than a BYU team that is expected to deliver a win on the road. No one outside the BYU facility expects the Cougars to do much in this game. So play loose.

Last week, winless UCF nearly took down Oklahoma. Houston put a scare into the Longhorns, too. Why not BYU get into the mix?

There should be no stress on BYU in this game. Yes, they can’t roll in and get thumped by 30 or 40. But roll out the deep cuts in the playbook and go all-out to bring your best.

If Texas wins big, no one will bat an eye, as everyone expects the Longhorns to do that. Kedon Slovis noted this week that BYU plays better when having fun and playing loose. Just do that and let the chips fall as they may.

3. Maalik Murphy has star potential at quarterback for Texas

Murphy takes over as the starting quarterback for Texas. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound signal-caller is a freak physically and he’s got a rocket for an arm.

Even though Quinn Ewers is out, don’t be surprised if the passing attack drops off with Murphy in the lineup. The redshirt freshman has the luxury to turn to Jonathan Brooks at running back early and often. But when you have receivers like AD Mitchell and Xavier Worthy, you’re going to the air as well.

It’s a big game for Murphy because if he performs well on Saturday and then puts together an impressive showing against defending Big 12 champ K-State, he might have a case to be the starter in the future.

BYU’s secondary is facing its toughest test to date.

Two BYU vs Texas Questions

1. Can BYU’s offense avoid the three-and-out lulls?

Last week’s second half offense against Texas Tech was conservative. The conservative playcalling left BYU with four three-and-outs and a lackluster 30 minutes to close out a bounce-back victory.

BYU can’t have four out of five offensive possessions going three-and-out against the Longhorns. At a minimum, BYU needs at least one first down on every drive.

Eat enough time to give BYU’s defense the needed breaks to not wear down in this matchup. The humidity in Austin is no joke. Temperatures will be in the mid-80s with potential thunderstorms around kick-off, but it’s humid.

On Friday, the “feels like” temperatures rose to the 90s because of the humidity. Keep the defense off the field as much as possible. To do that, sustaining drives from the BYU offense will be critical.

2. Who is going to be a superstar for BYU?

Texas doesn’t lose often on the Forty Acres. Think about the last two home losses for the Longhorns last year. It took gutty, clutch performances from Heisman finalists Bryce Young from Alabama and Max Duggan from TCU to pull out victories in Austin.

Think back to BYU’s win in 2014. Taysom Hill was an absolute star as Charlie Strong’s Texas had no answer for him.

To win in a tough venue that is going to have more than 100,000 fans, you need a superstar to emerge. Who is that for BYU on Saturday?

All eyes have to center on quarterback Kedon Slovis. His performance has been subpar in the past games. If BYU has any chance of putting a scare into the Longhorns, Slovis has to be special through the air and take care of the rock.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Texas

BYU hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record this year. The two losses were to teams who have non-losing records and both setbacks were by double figures.

 

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Texas is far and away the most talented team BYU will have faced to this point of the season. That’s concerning for BYU. But what’s good news is that BYU teams under Kalani Sitake typically fare well when stacked up as a large underdog.

The last time BYU was more than a 16-point underdog was at Wisconsin in 2018. BYU won that game. Earlier this year, as an 8-point underdog against Arkansas, BYU won.

But is that enough to suggest BYU makes this game close in the fourth quarter? I’m going to say no.

I see Texas jumping out to an early lead then things settle in for BYU for the remaining three quarters and they make it a little competitive. Texas gets revenge for what Taysom Hill did to them a decade ago.

Texas 35, BYU 17

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’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU vs. Texas: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction