The only consensus in regards to today's BYU-Tulsa matchup is that nobody knows what to expect. With that being said, here are what I see as the keys to a BYU victory.
- STOP THE RUN - Tulsa has been tremendously balanced this season and is at its best when the run game is churning away. BYU's strength all season has been the ability to stop the run, especially between the tackles. The front 3 will need to be stout. Sadly, this is the final game we will see from Loni Fangoupo. Hopefully he can make it a game to remember. BYU's leverage upfront will be a key factor in its capacity to stop the run game. The ability of Kyle Van Noy to chase around the edges will help BYU contain plays at the boundary. If Tulsa is unable to run the ball successfully, and is forced into passing situations on a consistent basis, Mendenhall will turn up the pressure on quarterback G.J. Kinne. That's a scenario in which BYU wins comfortably.
- CONTAIN THE DEEP BALL - In the previous meeting with Tulsa, BYU simply couldn't contain the deep pass. Schematically, the Tulsa offense was running past the BYU secondary. Bronco Mendenhall learned a lot from that game. Since then, he likes to use the Nickel package with just two defensive lineman when playing teams with an ability to make big plays through the air. Joe Sampson will be a key cog in the BYU defensive attack. Don't worry if Tulsa complete three or four straight first downs through the intermediate passing game. Once they get into the red zone, there are just two defenses who are better at containing points, and they are both playing for the BCS National Title.
- GET THE BALL TO HOFFMAN AND APO IN SPACE - Cody Hoffman has become BYU's best playmaker. Ross Apo has shown signs that he can be that kind of player as well. With Riley Nelson's inability to stretch the field vertically with the deep ball, look for Brandon Doman to implement a few more swing passes and wide receiver screens to get the ball into the hands of 2 and 11. With Michael Alisa questionable, Josh Quezada's in the midst of a sophomore slump, and J.J. DiLuigi's ball security issues, the passing game will be needed more than ever.