BYU and Utah St share common ground: The Utes

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the stats it is very hard to predict what might happen in Friday's showdown in Logan, UT. Utah St.'s passing game pushes them above BYU right? Well what about BYU's rushing game, it's much better than Utah St.'s right? You'd be correct in both cases. This game is as confusing to predict as any other game BYU might play this season. Why? Because their stats so closely mirror each others. But the best way to decipher the code is to look at the opponents they've both played this season: Utah.

Utah St. vs. Utah

In the season opener, Utah St. put up a valiant effort and almost upset the Utes in Salt Lake City, but ultimately fell short. Here is a brief rundown of how Utah St.'s offense, defense, and quarterback did against Utah. (Stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

USU Utah
1st Downs

27

24
Total Yards 487 450
Passing 314 302
Rushing 173 148
Penalties 7-94 5-30
3rd Down Conversions 10-17 7-16
4th Down Conversions 0-0 1-1
Turnovers 1 1
Possession 32:04 27:56

Now here is a look at how BYU fared against the same opponent.

BYU vs. Utah

Utah BYU
1st Downs 16 24
Total Yards 402 443
Passing 273 260
Rushing 129 183
Penalties 8-65 7-5
3rd Down Conversions 1-14 5-21
4th Down Conversions 0-0 1-4
Turnovers 0 1
Possession 33:13 26:47
Utah St. had more first downs, total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards than Utah, but still fell short when it came to points. They put up 26 points on Utah, and allowed 30 defensively.
BYU had more first downs, total yards, and rushing yards than Utah, but still fell short when it came to points. They put up 13 points on Utah, and allowed 20 defensively. BYU scored 13 less points against Utah than Utah St., but held Utah to 10 points less than Utah St. did.

What this means:

Quarterbacks:
Chuckie Keeton went 31/40 for 314 yards, 2 TD's, and 0 INT's against the Utes. His completion pct. was 77.5%. He also rushed 15 times for 85 yards and a TD. All in all he totaled 399 yards and 3 TD's.
Taysom Hill went 18/48 for 260 yards, 0 TD's, and 1 INT against the Utes. His completion pct. was 37.5%. He also rushed 20 times for 99 yards but no TD's. All in all he totaled 359 yards and 0 TD's.
Across the board Chuckie Keeton played better against Utah than Taysom Hill except for rushing yards.
Advantage- Chuckie Keeton.
Offense:
Utah St. posted 13 more points, more total yards, passing yards, and only 10 less rushing yards than BYU did against Utah. Each team accounted one turnover.
For the points alone, not to mention Chuckie Keeton, I've got to choose the Aggies in this category.
Advantage- Utah St.
Defense:
BYU's defense against the Utes allowed less points, total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards than Utah St.'s defense. BYU's defense held Utah to 1/14 on 3rd down conversions to Utah St.'s 7/16.
Utah St. however held Utah to less first downs and created one turnover to BYU's none.
The sole fact that BYU held Utah to 10 less points, 20 to Utah St.'s 30, I've got to go with the Cougars.
Advantage- BYU.
Special Teams:
Adam Hine had 2 kick returns for a total of 45 yards against Utah averaging 22.5 yards per return. He also had a return for a TD that was taken back on a sketchy holding call. J.D. Falslev returned a 59 yard punt to the 12 against Utah. He averaged 21 yards per punt return that game with 4 returns total.
Glover-Wright had 1 kick return for a total of 27 yards against Utah. Natson returned 1 punt for 2 yards.
Justin Sorensen was 2/3 in field goals against Utah St. and made his lone PAT attempt.
Diaz was 2/2 on field goals against Utah, and was 2/3 on PAT's.
BYU and Utah St.'s kick and punt coverage were very similar against Utah.
Because of the kick and punt return for TD potential that BYU has, I've got to give the edge to the Cougars.
Advantage- BYU.
Coaching:
Bronco Mendenhall is in his 8th year as head coach. He has an overall record of 75-31, with a win pct. of 71%. He's been to a bowl game all 8 years, is 6-2 in those games, and has finished the season ranked in the top 25 five of his eight seasons there, the highest ranking reached was #12 at the end of the 2009 season. Bronco is 3-6 against Utah.
Matt Wells is a first year head coach. He has an overall record of 3-2, with a win pct. of 60%. He was a first year Offensive Coordinator in 2012 under Gary Andersen when they went 11-2 and finished ranked 18th in the country. Matt Wells is 0-1 against Utah.
Experience is king in this case, Cougars get the nod here.
Advantage- BYU

Overall:

We've established that Utah St. has a better QB and offense than BYU as shown against their common opponent Utah this season, but BYU has a better defense, special teams, and coaching.
Utah St. is favored to beat BYU by 6.5 points, I pick BYU to cover that spread.
If you're a gambling man, now's a good time to make some free money.
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