BYU AT UTAH
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT
Line: Utah -3.5
The Las Vegas Bowl interrupted the brief hiatus in the Holy War last December, so Saturday’s meeting at Rice-Eccels Stadium isn’t much of a revival. Nevertheless, an official installment of the acrimonious, in-state rivalry should provide one of the better contests of Week 2, and certainly one of the more physical.
Longtime Utah assistant coach and defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake debuted with an impressive win last week against Arizona, holding the Wildcats typically prolific offense to 16 points.
By contrast, a BYU offense that often scored big in Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure managed just 18 against the Wildcats. Yards came in great supply, but red-zone failures vexed the Cougars. Against a defensive front as nasty as Utah’s, with rising NFL draft prospect Lowell Lotulelei plugging up the middle, Jamaal Williams may find holes difficult to come by.
The team that can generate either a timely turnover or two, or flip the field to their favor, will generate just enough offense to squeak out a hard-fought win. Utah’s special teams have routinely been among the best in the nation, and Ray Guy Player of the Week Mitch Wishnowsky gives the Utes a clear advantage in that phase.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called Sitake one of his “best friends” this week, The warm feelings among coaching staffs will not carryover to the fan bases. Beehive State bragging rights are on the line, and as they have since 2010, Utah should come away with them in a ground-and-pound affair.