By way of introduction to this column, I am a huge numbers guy, and I love computer rating systems. No computer rating system is perfect, especially early on in the season, but one system run by Kenneth Massey posts predictions of all the up-coming games. I use these analyses and some of my own observations to point out how our opponents are getting easier or harder throughout the season. Feel free to check out his site yourself, or even those of other computer analyses. For now, on to the numbers!
Now that BYU's national championship hope has been dashed like lighting in a Virginia rain storm, most BYU analysis has turned toward what we can salvage of the season. We all saw the bad parts of Saturday, but there was plenty of silver lining on those clouds. I'd like to fill you all in on how the rest of our opponents fared over the weekend. I'd also like to say, remember 2006.
Texas, our upcoming opponent, had a field day with New Mexico State, an opponent that has proven it's not even up to the task of stopping Jake Heaps or James Lark led BYU offenses. Texas actually set a school record with 715 total yards of perfectly balanced offense, but again... against NMSU. There is plenty of analysis of Texas and the coming match-up else where on this site, so I'll leave you by noting that Massey had our chances of wining at 55% (preseason) but it has now dropped to 46%. I believe this high of a rating is primarily because our defense can keep us in any game... but we certainly aren't favored to win.
The other really bright lining of the weekend for me, was Boise State's disappointing show at Washington. Most people guessed it would be a close game favoring Boise, but the Huskies had something to say about that. Boise's defense floundered and gave up big numbers to the fast attack of Washington, and the usually prolific Boise offense was held to just two field goals. If the huskies can stop them, BYU has a much better chance than most originally thought. The computer says we have a 77% chance! That's great in my book.
Utah (1-0) and Utah State (0-1)
The other HUGE game that happened this weekend that affected BYU more than any other was Utah's crazy comeback win over Utah State. If you didn't get a chance to watch it, you might want to find someone who recorded it, because I learned a lot about both teams, and how we might match up with them.
In my opinion Utah would have lost, if not for the brilliant decision to play an on-sides kick after a field goal, leading to a touch down drive. The momentum swing centered around that kick won the game for Utah. Hopefully BYU's coaching staff are up to the challenge of taking on Whittingham and Erickson. Also Dres Anderson will test our secondary, but I think we can contain him. We have a 62% chance of beating Utah.
Against Utah St. We really need to contain Chuckie Keaton. When Utah shut down his receivers he scrambled and sometimes ran well, but I think we can stop his scrambling and keep his running to a minimum. There's really no other big players from Utah St, but solid play all around. Massey's ratings say we only have a 39% chance winning this game, which is saying a lot considering they lost to Utah (who we're still predicted to beat). I really think BYU's defense will be up to the task of containing the Utah State attack and hopefully by then our offense will have settled into its own. I would put this game as more of a 50-50 for now, we'll revisit this again in the future.
And the rest of the rundown:
- Middle Tennessee beat Western Carolina 45-24.
- Georgia Tech beat Elon 70-0.
- Houston won easily 62-13. Interestingly, they had their back up QB come in during the third quarter and he ended up with three touchdowns.
- Wisconsin demolished UMass 45-0. Jared Abeerderis is a strong, breakaway receiver who will be a big test for our secondary.
- Notre Dame sailed through Temple 28-6. Tommy Rees seemed much improved, throwing well with good protection, and of course the defense was tight.
- Nevada lost to UCLA 58-20. Most thought Nevada would put up more of a fight, so maybe they're not as good as some people thought.
This is just week one. A lot can change in the coming games. Keep up on how things change throughout the season with weekly posts of Eyes on the Enemy.