The Day to Win

Hello Followers.  Hope your weekend is off to a great start.

Today, our Cougs travel down to SLC to play the talented, but nonetheless not-so-mighty Utes. 
For a few pre-game thoughts and predictions, click on the old Jumpa-Vegas.

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Followers, last week I told you that I thought we would win this game.  And nothing has occurred since then to make me feel any different.  Although Utah’s defense is certainly formidable, and although I think White is one heckuva running back…

….this is one that I think we’re going to take care of comfortably.  And the reason?  Well, if you look at how the Utes have performed so far this season on offense, it becomes evident pretty quickly that don't score a whole lot of points (Last week’s game against the California Quitters notwithstanding).   And so, the key to LOSING to the Utes is pretty simple:  Turn the ball over, let White run wild, and give up a bunch of big plays on special teams.

So, when you look at the keys to the game today, well, they are pretty darn simple:

Key #1: Protect the Ball.  Utah is pretty good at moving the ball 20-30 yards per possession, which is just fine when they’re starting inside their opponents red zone.  In addition, Utah has not lost when they are +2 in turnover margin, and have won only once when they were -1 or worse (Utah State).  So, if you protect the ball against Utah, you win.  Hear that Mr. Tuel?

Key #2: Stop the Run.  Some nice talk out there about the upside of Mr. Travis Wilson who is a guy who reminds me a bit of Sean Mannion of last year—dangerous IF he is able to throw out of play action.  So, if we are able to stop White early and put Utah in third and long, I think we’ll see Wilson act a lot like the freshman quarterback that he is.

Key #3 Don’t Be Special.  If we wind up talking about special teams today it will be because we lost.   This is not to say that Andrew Furney  won’t play a role in this game, because I think he might.  But it is to say that if our kicking game does its job—meaning we don’t allow big returns and avoid fumbling kick-offs and punts, then we’ll be well on our way to achieving Key #1 and winning the game.

Prediction:

This game will serve as THE barometer of where this team is at moving forward. …

 

Will we continue to see the team that turns moral victories into persistent let-down performances?  Or, are we finally ready and able to translate a strong, albeit losing, performance into a turn-the-corner/turn-some-heads type performance/stretch-run?

My guess is that Utah’s defense at home is good enough to keep our offense under 30 points, but I also think the Hair Raid turns in a performance that helps cement their status as one of the  most improved defensive units in the country.

Cougs win 28-20 as Tuel throws for 450 yards and 3 touches against the conference’s 11th ranked pass efficiency defense.   

Elsewhere:

Oregon State 24  ASU 21.   With USC on the docket for next week, ASU could be headed straight toward another miserable mid-season slide.

AZ 51 UCLA 24.  Nothing would be better than for UCLA to come into Pullman next week ranked #20 in the country and with  A LOT to play for.  Unfortunately, after looking at their secondary play against ASU, this looks like a game where Arizona just roles.  And after today, the South champion will be all-but guaranteed to have 3 losses.  NOT  GOOD for Oregon’s National Championship aspirations.

Oregon 51  USC 31.   I think this game is going to be a thriller up until the end of the 3rd quarter, at which point the onslaught will begin.

Stanford v. Colorado.  Who cares?

We’ll be back after the game for a few quick post-game thoughts.

All for now.  Go Cougs.

 

 

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