Texas Longhorns vs. BYU Cougars Preview and Prediction

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Can BYU pull the upset in Provo?

Texas Longhorns vs. BYU Cougars 2013 Preview and Prediction

The No. 15 Longhorns come into Provo off a 56-7 romp over New Mexico State. Despite the victory, Texas didn't look as impressive as the score would indicate. In fact, Texas trailed 7-0 late in the second half before rallying for a 14-7 lead at halftime. On the other hand, BYU had to withstand nightmarish circumstances in its trip to the east coast to face Virginia. The rain-drenched affair in Charlottesville, was delayed for over 2 hours due to severe weather.

Texas made some noise this week as Mack Brown implemented the use of masks to prepare for the altitude at BYU. Will Brown's preparations pay off or can the Cougars put a gut-wrenching 19-16 loss behind them and upset the Longhorns?

Three Things to Watch

The health of Cougars' WR Cody Hoffman

The leader among all FBS players with 28 career touchdown catches was a late scratch from last week's game due to a nagging hamstring injury. He sat out of practice on Monday and Tuesday, but

coach Bronco Mendenhall has indicated Hoffman's health is around 80-85 percent. BYU is a radically more explosive offensive with Hoffman on the field, as Taysom Hill struggled without his top playmaker, completing just 13 of his 40 passing attempts for just 125 yards against Virginia. Hoffman's status for the game could well decide if BYU has a chance to pull the upset.

Texas QB David Ash

Ash struggled early, throwing two first half interceptions; however, he showed unusual resiliency in coming back to lead Texas to a school record in offensive yards of 715. He was a big-play extraordinaire, throwing touchdown passes of 54, 66, 74 and 25 yards, while rushing for a 55-yard touchdown. Ash proved he has a big arm, now he just needs to work on his decision-making. BYU does have a very stout defense as they held Virginia just 226 total yards and 14 first downs, so David Ash will have to be in top form.

Longhorns' pass rush

The BYU offensive line showed several holes against Virginia. Look for standout ends Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat to cause them even more issues and register big games. Manny Diaz will have his defensive fronts active and aggressive throughout, so expect Taysom Hill to be on his back early and often. 

Key Player: Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU

The best individual player in this game and perhaps the most talented linebacker in the entire country, Van Noy is a near lock to be a first-round pick. Van Noy is at his best rushing the passer on blitzes from the second level. The senior has a knack for getting to the quarterback off the edge and a habit for knocking the ball out when he arrives, as evidenced by his 11 forced fumbles in his BYU career. He's one of the rare players that can be a true playmaker from the linebacker position. The Cougars will need him to step up in a big way if the Longhorns offense is to be slowed.

Final Analysis:

Both teams were hard to judge based on last week's performance. Texas played a low quality squad, while BYU battled the weather and were without their top offensive weapon. In any case, Provo is a dangerous place for opposing teams to play. Texas and BYU will both try to keep a quick tempo on offense, but I think the Longhorns' defense and quarterback play is better than BYU's and should win out.

Prediction:

Texas 35, BYU 27

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