I don’t think last week’s game was at all what anyone predicted. BYU had no excuse to barely escape with a win against San Jose State last Friday night. The Cougars are led by a strong offense and a solid defense. The argument could be made that four starters on the offensive line were sitting out which would make things harder for Tanner Mangum and company. But he showed an ability to move the ball despite that, little reason for it to suddenly stop. All that said, a win is a win and the Cougars are 7-2.
Another big talking point going into this game revolves around the protests by the Missouri football players. This threatened a game actually happening. Now that we know it is happening that is all that really matters. The question has been asked, "How will Mizzou come out?" Honestly, it could go either way. They could be distracted and come out flat, as they’re fresh off their "victory" over administration. Another option is for them to come out fired up and ready to go, out there to prove that now they’ve taken care of business they’re ready to get back to football. I’m not sure which its going to be but the former would not surprise me. At the end of the day I expect it to be a very low scoring game on both sides. The Tigers have a very, very poor offense and a really strong defense. I expect the Cougars to shut them down on defense. As for the offense I think BYU should be able to scrounge up at least 17 points, maybe more. It all depends on who is going to be back on the offensive line.
BYU will hold Missouri without a touchdown
Mizzou has a surprisingly terrible offense this season. The Tigers have scored a total of 25 points in the past 4 games for an average of 6.25 points per game. They also mustered 9 points in a victory over Connecticut, a team that BYU dropped 30 against. On the season the Tigers are averaging 14.7 points a game, which is the 127th in FBS. The only decent opponent they have scored more than 20 against was South Carolina. Other than that they have eclipsed 20 points twice, coming against Southeast Missouri State and Arkansas State. Those two teams are a combined 10-8 this season. Missouri’s starting quarterback, Drew Lock has a QBR of 16.2 with 870 passing yards on the year. Clearly the passing offense is quite weak. The top running back for Mizzou has 423 rushing yards for the season with one touchdown. In total the Tigers average 281 yards per game this season, good enough – or bad enough – for 126th, or 3rd worst in FBS. As you can see, this is not a strong offense. Bronco Mendenhall's defense should have little problem slowing them down.
The Cougars will have more than 350 total yards of offense
The Tigers defense is 10th in the nation in total defense, giving up 297 yards a game. BYU averages 441 yards per game. The argument could be made that BYU is playing lesser defenses so 441 yards per game is not all that impressive. Though Missouri isn't exactly playing juggernaut offenses either. I would say the numbers for both teams are fairly close representatives of who each of them are as teams. Mizzou does have a very good defense and BYU has a strong, productive offense. This is where the battle will lie all night. Can a productive BYU offense overcome an arguably elite Missouri defense? My answer to that question is, yes they can. That said, BYU will have another low scoring game with stalled drives and the dreaded 3 and out will crop up more than fans will like. We'll still see some points on the board. Koroma should be back which will be crucial in getting better offensive line protection. With improved O-line play against Missouri that will give Mangum enough time and allow this offense to be more productive than last week. Yes, I expect them to play better on offense than they did against San Jose State.
BYU will have more than 5 sacks
I expect to see the BYU defense live in the Missouri backfield. The lose of Takitaki still hurts this team but having Travis Tuiloma back has been huge for the pass rush. With Tuiloma back Bronson Kaufusi is a much more effective and dynamic pass rusher. He's able to wreak more havoc on opposing offensive lines. Fred Warner should be able to get in on the action too as he has started to make a bigger impact as the season as gone on. As most everybody knows, having a great nose tackle is crucial to a 3-4 defense's success and that is exactly what BYU has in Tuiloma. He creates so much more space for the rest of the defense, particularly the front seven. Bronco loves to dial up the blitz and has so many unique blitz packages. There is a reason he's considered one of the top defensive minds in college football today.
One other thing to point out, BYU is tied for 6th in the country in sacks with 31 on the season. That gives them an average of 3.4 sacks per game. Against a young and frankly, not very good offense the Cougars should be able to reach that number and more. BYU doesn't have the best athletes in the country, though they do have some good ones. It is because of Mendenhall's blitz packages that the Cougars are able to get to the quarterback as much as they do. I expect to see that continue. This defense is going to have a lot of fun on Saturday night.
So you match up a very strong defense with a strong offense it's a little bit of a push. But throw in a horrible offense against a strong defense that clearly gives one team the advantage. That team is BYU, I predict the Cougars win 17-9 in another low scoring affair.