BYU Football: Why I feel confident about a BYU win over UVA


Go back in time about a month ago, and BYU fans probably weren’t as worried about playing Virginia at home this year.  Judging from their 2-10 finish from last year, how could the Cavaliers pose any kind of threat to a top-gun team like BYU?  Suddenly, this matchup against the Wahoo’s is shaping up to be one of the biggest games of the year for the 3-0 Cougars.

How did this happen?

After just three games, Virginia has already matched last year’s win total at 2-1, culminating with an upset win over ranked Louisville last weekend.  The scary thing is that they could very well be sitting at 3-0, had they not given up three defensive touchdowns to ranked UCLA in the season opener.  They now prepare to depart Charlottesville to play their first road game of the year, against another ranked opponent in hot, dry, elevated Provo, Utah.

The media hype surrounding this game has many BYU fans worried about this much improved Virginia team.  I respect Virginia, but I do not fear them.  In fact, I am very confident that BYU will soundly defeat the Cavaliers on Saturday.  This is a bizarre statement from me, considering that I am usually very pessimistic about my BYU Cougars.  After nearly decades of consistent heartbreaks, I always prepare myself for the worst possible scenario.

However, this game feels different.  My confidence doesn’t just come from a random feeling in my soul, but rather some rational reasoning that backs up my claims for a big Cougar victory.  Here are my reasons why I feel confident about a BYU win over Virginia:

  • Virginia’s First Road Game – The Cavaliers opened the 2014 season with three straight games at home.  This week they leave the comfort of their home to travel over halfway across the country to play an undefeated and nationally ranked BYU team.  This 2014 Virginia team has no idea what it is like to play away from home yet.  They are accustomed to playing in the hot, humid east coast environment with the support of their home crowd and the comfortable elevation of 594 feet.  On Saturday, Virginia will be playing in front of a sold-out crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium nestled at an elevation of 4,549 feet.  BYU has shown over the years that they are a tough team to beat at home.  Crowd noise and fatigue will be a factor in a BYU victory over Virginia.
  • BYU will be rested – After just three days of preparation for the Houston game, BYU now has had 8 days to prepare for Virginia.  What does 8 days of rest do for a team?  Personally, I am not a fan of bye weeks simply due to the fact that it knocks a team out of it’s rhythm.  I don’t like my team being “too rested”.  I would prefer they stay focused and keep the momentum going.  However, after the quick turnaround following the Texas win, and fighting through Houston,  I feel that 8 days of rest is a perfect amount of time to prepare for this game against Virginia.  Players that sat out against Houston will most likely be ready to go on Saturday.  Bumps and bruises have healed.  Game film has been studied.  Schemes are in place.  BYU will be prepared.

PROVO, UT – SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback John O’Korn #5 of the University of Houston Cougars watches as Jherremya Leuta-Douyere #43, Craig Bills #20 and Graham Rowley #92 of the Brigham Young University Cougars celebrate a safety on September 11, 2014 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)

  • BYU’s defense will hold UVA to less than 20 – Virginia is a good football team, and they have shown that they are capable of putting points on the board.  However, I have not been convinced just yet that they have the playmakers to light up BYU’s dominant defense.  The only way Virginia beats BYU on Saturday is through the air, because they currently rank 96th in the nation in rushing yards per game, and BYU’s defense is not one that a team can just easily run on.  BYU’s defensive secondary were semi-exposed by Houston, and if UVA were smart, they would test our pass defense by throwing deep.  We have yet to see that this year, possibly because of the amount of pressure we apply on quarterbacks.  Virginia is ranked 97th in pass offense, so overall, there is not a lot to worry about.  The only way Virginia scores more than 20 on Saturday, is if BYU shoots themselves in the foot like they did against Houston and gives UVA the ball in our territory via turnovers.  Otherwise, I think our defense shines on Saturday.
  • Wake-Up Call – After the big win over Texas on the road, BYU jumped out to a big–and expected– lead over Houston.  Then the Cougars did what they do best… let their foot off the gas pedal and kindly opened the gate to allow Houston back into the game.  Several penalties and turnovers later, BYU was fighting to the very end to secure a win over Houston.  I feel that the sloppy performance by BYU against Houston was something that we can definitely learn from and use as a stepping stone for our remaining opponents.  Learn from the mistakes and the penalties and allow it to be a wake-up call.  You are not going to win games if you keep making these stupid mistakes.  I certainly hope that BYU isn’t dismissing those errors by assuming “Welp, at least we got the win!  Who cares about the turnovers and penalties now! [high fives teammates].”  It’s time to wake up and smell the J-dawgs.  If BYU continues to commit penalties and turnovers, it will be very difficult to win games, especially against teams like Virginia.
  • Revenge Factor – Okay, I know this is a sensitive subject for fans right now, but hear me out.  I dont think BYU is approaching this game with angry revenge on their mind.  I think both BYU and Virginia are completely different teams since the last time they played.  I think the circumstances have drastically changed.  However, when I say revenge factor, I refer to the way that Bronco Mendenhall has been very good in revenge games during his career.  The first time BYU played Virginia in Charlottesville, the Cougars stunned the Cavaliers by overcoming a 21-0 halftime deficit to win 38-35 in overtime.  Virginia got their revenge on BYU last year when the Cougars returned to Scott Stadium after a 13 year hiatus.  In 1999, Virginia came to Cougar Stadium and upset the undefeated Cougars 45-40 on national television.  I still have haunting images in my mind of Thomas Jones repeatedly running right through the gap where Rob Morris was supposed to be, but was absent due to an injury the week prior.  The only question is, will the Cougars avenge that loss from 15 years ago?  I wonder if any of the current BYU players were old enough to even remember that game.

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Bottom line, BYU should easily win this game.  I say this with confidence based off of reasons I listed above.  However, I am not over-confident.  Virginia is a good team and have shown signs of life within their program once again.  If BYU comes in and plays their game, they should win soundly.  But we all know how unpredictable this BYU team has been the past few years.  I suppose all we can do is hope for the best.

My final prediction: BYU 34, Virginia 13