Week 1 Preview: Utah vs BYU in the “Holy War”
By: Tony Thomas
August 28, 2019
Thursday will kickoff the 94th meeting of what is affectionately called “The Holy War” between Utah and BYU.
Utah holds a 58-31-4 record in the series that dates back to 1922. BYU has lost the last 8 wars by an average margin of defeat of 10 points. The Utes are 9-2 in season openers on the road.
Utah, coached by Kyle Whittingham, is coming off an 9-5 record in 2018 and a 31-20 loss to Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl. The Utes will be led on the field by SR. QB Tyler Huntley and SR. RB Zac Moss. Huntley threw for 1788 yards , 12 TD’s and 6 INT’s. He only played in 9 games before being injured and and was out for the rest of the season. Moss rushed for 1096 yards and 11 TD’s in 2018. Utah scored an average of 28 points per game last year.
The Utes defense is one of the best in the country year after year. The defense returns 7 starters on defense that allowed only 19 points per game and recorded 37 sacks, their most since 2016. The unit returns experience and production on the defensive line, bringing back 16 of those sacks from last year. The secondary returns 3 starters who combined for 6 INT’s in 2018, one of which was returned for a TD.
The BYU Cougars are coached by Kalani Sitake and are coming off a 7-6 record. They ended 2018 on a positive note, beating W. Michigan 49-18 in the Idaho Potato Bowl. The Cougars return 17 starters, 9 on offense and 8 on defense.
The Cougars are 11-1 in season openers, but have lost the last 8 Holy Wars by an average margin of defeat of 10 points.
BYU will be led on the field by SO. QB Zac Wilson, who passed for 1578 yards, 12 TD’s, and 3 INT’s.
The Cougars return 6 offensive line starters and backups that have accounted for 52 starts. They also return their Top 3 receivers. The BYU defense allowed 21 points per game and recorded 27 sacks.
Utah is a 5-point favorite in this game. The Utes will continue their unholy dominance and make it 9 straight wins over BYU in the War.
My pick: Utah
Thanks for reading.
Material for this article sourced from: http://sports-reference.com, Phil Steele’s 2019 College Football Preview, vol.25, pages 1-352; Logos via http://sportslogos.net