TEXAS LONGHORNS (1-0)
at BYU COUGARS (0-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Texas -7, Total: 57
No. 15 Texas heads to Provo Saturday night to take on a BYU team that will be looking to bounce back after falling in its opener to the Virginia Cavaliers.
In 2011, the Longhorns were able to escape with the 17-16 victory over the Cougars in Austin. BYU led that game 13-3 at halftime before Texas QBs David Ash and Case McCoy sparked a second-half comeback. However, things are a little different in Austin, and not in a good way for Texas. Mack Brown and the Longhorns have heard from the critics the past two seasons that they arenít the same program they were when Vince Young was leading them to the national title. However, with 19 starters back from last yearís team, there is a feel that Texas will be contending for that championship once again. After a slow start against New Mexico State, the Longhorns got rolling, scoring 56 unanswered points in the final three quarters while amassing a school record 715 yards of offense in the 56-7 victory over the Aggies. Texas displayed a balanced offense by gaining 359 yards through the air, and 356 on the ground. Ash threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns, but did also throw two interceptions as well. The defense was back to playing its aggressive style of football, forcing three turnovers and getting after the quarterback. However, the 'Horns face a more difficult challenge against a BYU team that will be looking to get its first win of the season after falling to Virginia 19-16. The Cougars were 8-5 SU last season, and are looking to build off a strong 2012 season. However, they had to deal with mother nature, as a two-hour weather delay made playing conditions very difficult. Sophomore RB Jamaal Williams was not affected by the terrible weather, as he rushed for 144 yards. However, it was the passing game that struggled as QB Taysom Hill went 13-for-40 with 175 yards. While the playing conditions were not great, the Cougars are going to have to play much better if they are going to pull the upset.
Can the Longhorns keep rolling with a convincing road win over BYU? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The experts dominated in the opening week of the college football season with a combined 69% ATS mark (11-5), highlighted by Scott's 4-1 ATS record and Brian's 3-1 ATS record with the lone blemish being Hawaii's backdoor cover with a last-minute touchdown versus USC. Dave started off his year 3-2 ATS in Best Bets, while Gary was 1-1 ATS.
Last season, the Longhorns went 9-4 SU, but were 4-1 on the road. The biggest problem was a defense that gave up 29.4 PPG, the most in the Mack Brown era. However, it was not because of a lack of talent. DE Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the premiere defensive linemen in all of the country. He has not been healthy for parts of the past two seasons, but he is back and looks to be as good as ever. While David Ash has been inconsistent passing throughout his career, the Longhorns have one of the best rushing attacks in all of the country. Jalen Overstreet (100 yards, 2 TD last week) Ash, (91 yards, 1 TD) Joe Bergeron (79 yards) and Daie Johnson (62 yards, 1 TD) all contributed significantly to the victory over New Mexico State. That is also without top running backs from last year Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown having big games on the ground. Brown did have 103 yards receiving yards and a touchdown though. Very similar to how Alabama won the title in 2009, Ash does not have to be the guy to win the game. With their rushing attack and a defense that looks to be back in their old form, Ash just needs to be a game-manager. He will not be depended upon to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, just to keep the offense going. However, if he does need to pass it, he has one of the top receivers in the Big 12 in Mike Davis. (63 yards, 1 TD against New Mexico State). Texas appears to be on the right track, but can ill-afford a letdown, as a game against Ole Miss is looming the following weekend.
If BYU is going to pull off the upset, Hill must have a much better game throwing the ball. The Longhorns are going to come into this matchup loading up the box and forcing someone to beat them besides Williams. The Cougars have a great home crowd, and they must make a play early to keep the crowd into the game. The Cougars last year went 4-1 at home, with their lone loss to No. 10 Oregon State. On defense, BYU has an emerging star in CB Craig Bills, who made his presence felt in the loss to Virginia by intercepting a pass. He will be locked up against Davis most of that game, and must shut him down. Against Virginia, the Cougars gave up only 109 yards on a very impressive 2.6 yards per carry allowed. With Texas, they are going to look to run the ball, so BYU must bring that same type of defensive attitude. The offense is going to have problems consistently moving the ball against the Longhorns, so a defensive or special teams touchdown is a must if they want to pull off the upset.