BYU Vs. Baylor: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction
PROVO, Utah – BYU vs Baylor has all the makings to be a classic.
It’s a Big 12 sneak peek, and it’s a look at two Top 25 teams looking to score a big win in a late-night spot. Last season, Baylor crushed BYU in Waco, 38-24. It was only the third meeting all-time between the two faith-based schools.
The last time Baylor was in Provo, week two of #BYU’s National Championship season in 1984.#BYUFootball @kslsports
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) September 10, 2022
The last time Baylor made a trip to Provo was in 1984, BYU’s National Championship season. That game saw BYU defeat the Bears 47-13. So it’s probably a safe bet to think no one will run away with tonight’s game as the Cougars did in ’84.
No. 21 BYU vs. No. 9 Baylor
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. (MT)
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended Pregame begins at 6 p.m.)
Now it’s time for the 3-2-1 Game Day preview for today’s matchup between BYU and Baylor.
Three Gameday Thoughts
1. BYU can still beat Baylor without Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney
Reports surfaced Friday that Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney would be out for the game. BYU will likely have to dig into their depth at receiver with guys like Brayden Cosper, Keanu Hill, Chase Roberts, and Keanu Hill to carry the load.
Puka Nacua: Playmaker 🤙 @AsapPuka #BYU #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/KEOkMGFFG5
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) September 6, 2022
But ultimately, this matchup is all about physicality. Establishing the run is going to be critical for BYU. The Cougars, last year against Baylor, averaged 2.2 yards per carry. That was with Tyler Allgeier in the backfield.
The early return on Cal grad transfer Chris Brooks proved impressive last week as he rushed for 135 yards in the 50-21 win over USF. Also, Lopini Katoa has seen a resurgence. Last year, Katoa, a veteran leader on the team, had the mental stresses of his mother having a brain tumor removed. This year, he’s physically and mentally healthy, and he put together an excellent performance last week in Tampa, rushing for 55 yards on 10 carries.
2. BYU’s offensive line can back up the hype tonight
Watching BYU’s offensive line operate against USF, the talent is evident from the opening snap. But can that dominance that BYU’s offensive front showed against USF appear against Baylor?
They received a lot of hype in the offseason for a game like tonight.
Alright, this offensive line trend is pretty great. 😂#BYU #GoCougs #BYUFootball https://t.co/xUH1fZlecp
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) September 9, 2022
Four of the five starters are experienced and have played a lot of snaps together. While the fifth starter, Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia, is one of the most athletic offensive linemen BYU has ever had in the program.
Former East High star and one-time BYU commit, Siaki “Apu” Ika will be a handful in the interior of Baylor’s defensive line. Also, watch for sixth-year senior Cole Maxwell off the edge.
3. BYU is a great night game team
During the LaVell Edwards era, the idea of night games was always nerve-wracking for BYU. Back in those days, BYU always played home games at noon. It was a rare day when BYU played a game under the lights. However, a lot has changed since LaVell was roaming the sidelines.
Nowadays, BYU is used to playing night games. BYU has won their last 11 games played at night. The night is when BYU thrives. Last year, their three losses were all played in the daytime.
A 9:15 p.m. central time kickoff has been a big storyline around Texas for the Baylor program. While BYU is used to the long days at a team hotel, Baylor hasn’t dealt with this. They’ll need to get familiar as it will become the norm when BYU joins the Big 12.
Two BYU vs Baylor Questions
1. Will BYU’s defense force takeaways?
In a toss-up matchup like this, turnovers are a massive piece of determining the winner. Both BYU and Baylor run similar offenses with the wide zone attack, thanks to Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes who was in the same role at BYU.
#BYU DL @Tyler_Batty2 joined me for his weekly conversation on Cougar Tracks.
We broke down the matchup with No. 9 Baylor.
🎧: https://t.co/zVkX0xNUs7#BYUFootball #BUvsBYU @kslsports pic.twitter.com/bjTsDTuzGc
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) September 8, 2022
BYU’s defense was a no-show last year in Waco, leading head coach Kalani Sitake to call out the lack of physicality from his team. So what tricks do they pull out of the playbook this time around? Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen has elite accuracy. If BYU’s defense isn’t able to make things difficult for Shapen, it could be a long night.
Coming with a turnover or two will be critical to a win for BYU.
2. Is Jaren Hall ready to burst onto the national stage?
National pundits around college football have been sleeping on BYU quarterback Jaren Hall since he took over as QB1 for the Cougars. That’s probably in large part due to BYU’s late games. But even the east coast media can’t turn away from the stage Hall is about to enter for BYU/Baylor.
The atmosphere is going to be rocking on Saturday night at LES. 👏 🤙
Jaren Hall can’t wait.#BUvsBYU #BYU #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/6NdhGEY3B6
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) September 8, 2022
It’s a high-profile game that poses an opportunity for people to put some respect on Jaren Hall’s name finally. Is the fifth-year quarterback ready? The thought would be, yes. Hall absorbs endless amounts of film study and doesn’t appear fazed by anything. Even he said this week he doesn’t think about the outside noise. But it’s hard to deny that a big game for him against a Dave Aranda-led Baylor defense could do a world of good for not only BYU but Jaren Hall and his NFL draft stock.
One Score Prediction for BYU vs Baylor
Tonight is the game that BYU players have been circling all off-season. Typically that designation would go to rival Utah. But the Utes instead wanted to play Florida. So Baylor takes center stage for BYU as the big revenge opportunity.
That won’t be enough to beat a Baylor team that likely won’t beat itself. Expect a physical football game in the trenches that will leave all the football geeks everywhere marveling at the high level of play from the big guys up front.
I give BYU the slight edge in this one because of QB Jaren Hall. Don’t be surprised if Blake Shapen ends up being one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this season; he will be a handful for BYU’s defense. But Hall is the best player in this game. Having the best player at the most important position at home leads me to pick BYU in a close one.
BYU 26, Baylor 24
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
BYU Cougars Scoreboard
BYU Cougars Team Leaders
BYU Cougars Standings