The Cougars fell just short against Notre Dame last week, giving up yet another 4th quarter lead. They'll be looking to rebound this week as they head down south to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
What we know about Georgia Tech (3-4)
The Yellow Jackets are third to last in the ACC, with wins coming against FCS Presbyterian as well as the last two teams in the ACC, Boston College and Virginia. Losses have come against Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), future BYU foe Middle Tennessee, and Clemson.
Georgia Tech is ranked quite low in passing and defending the pass (I believe those are related), as they depend on their #3 ranked rush attack to fuel their offense. They rush for 340 yards per game.
What we know about BYU (4-4)
I'm starting to understand what Utah State fans went through last year, playing even with good teams through 3 quarters and watching it all fall apart in the end. Three of BYU's four losses this year have come by a combined total of 7 points.
The Cougars have lost every marquee game on the schedule this year. Georgia Tech isn't as good an opponent as they looked in the preseason, but they still provide an opportunity for the Cougars to show where they stand in the college football landscape.
My hope is that BYU wins this week and goes on to finish the regular season at 8-4 going into the bowl game. 8-4 will feel a whole lot better than 7-5.
Keys to the game
Win the turnover battle. While last week's turnovers against Notre Dame actually ended in a wash, the Cougars did lose the battle 2-1. If there has been any area that our defense has consistently performed poorly, it's been causing and recovering turnovers. I do see our defenders working to strip the ball, and Kyle Van Noy got an interception last week, but this defense is too good to not be causing more turnovers.
Bronco D. These guys got ran all over by Notre Dame last week, and this week they're facing one of college football's premier rushing attacks. After having been softened up by Notre Dame, it will be interesting to see if they continue to give way to to big rushing yards, or if they will buckle down and make life miserable for the Yellow Jackets.
Offensive balance. If every time you run, you hand it off to Jamaal Williams, and every time you pass you throw it to Cody Hoffman, defenses begin to notice. And when they notice, they key on those players. Both Hoffman and Williams are great players and have made some amazing plays this season, but their game is hampered when they become the only target, and the defense knows that they're the only target.
Riley Nelson. Riley is fairly consistent at making bad decisions. These mostly come in situations where he is about to be sacked. Riley generally responds to this by either throwing a crazy 'let's see if this works' floating pass about 20 yards down-field, or by running backwards and taking a deep sack. I will give Riley some credit though, I saw him actually throw the ball away against Notre Dame at least once. Because his floating passes are nearly always interceptions, and his sacks lose 10-15 yards, the best decision for him to make in these situations is nearly always going to be to throw the ball away. I'd love to see more of that this week.
This is as good a statement game as we have left this season, and I hope the Cougars make the most of it. I look for the defense to rally against a weaker opponent than they've faced in weeks, and for Riley Nelson to torch, yes torch, the Yellow Jackets through the air. Look to hear the names of Hoffman, Apo, Friel, and Ridley this week en route to a BYU victory. Cougars 28, Yellow Jackets 14.