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UConn Huskies vs. BYU Cougars Preview and Prediction

Bronco Mendenhall

Bronco Mendenhall

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UConn and BYU, a pair of 2-2 teams that are on two-game losing streaks, look to get back on the winning path with a Friday night tilt in one of college football’s most scenic venues, Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.

The Huskies and Cougars are set to square off against each other for just the second in the two programs’ respective histories. The previous meeting came in last season’s opener, where BYU rolled to a 35-10 win in Storrs.

This year, the Huskies will make their longest trip in school history by travelling 2,000 miles to Provo, Utah, to try and get revenge on the Cougars.

BYU suffered an embarrassing 31-0 loss last week at Michigan and is a team that is beaten up and doing some soul-searching, chomping at the bit to get back on the field and avenge that loss from a week ago.

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UConn at BYU

Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: BYU -18.5

Three Things to Watch

1. What BYU team will show up?

BYU was “America’s Team” through the first two weeks of this young season, with a pair of Hail Mary victories that had every football fan on the edge of their seat watching the Cougars.

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Now, the Cougars are reeling after two losses and the last game BYU played in against Michigan saw the Cougars get shutout for only the second time since 1975.

Was BYU exposed against the Maize ‘N Blue, or was that performance in Ann Arbor an outlier and a byproduct of the fourth game in a four-game stretch that was the toughest September schedule in the country?

These questions will need to be answered starting with this Friday’s game against UConn.

On paper, BYU should roll on the Huskies, but UConn had success on the road against Missouri in a game the Huskies felt they should have won. UConn won’t be fazed by the large atmosphere and crowd in Provo.

BYU players this week have said they are hungry to get back out on the field, and prove that the Michigan game was not who they are. If they play the way they did in the first three weeks, the Cougars should get back on the winning path.

2. UConn seeking a signature win

Year two of the Bob Diaco era has already shown improvement. The Huskies have matched their win total from a year ago, and have been competitive in every game thus far. Now, the Huskies are looking for that signature win to elevate the status of their program, and position themselves to make a run at a bowl game this season.

This UConn program is desperately looking for excitement, and they’ve been looking since Randy Edsall bolted for Maryland. Diaco is building things the right way, now it’s time to see a big win or two. A win at BYU would fall under the big win category and would give the Huskies a ton of confidence entering the meat of their AAC schedule.

3. BYU offense vs. UConn defense

Through four weeks, the Huskies boast one of the top 25 total defenses in the country. This is an impressive stat for a team that last season gave up 30 points or more on seven different occasions. This unit is led by safety Andrew Adams, who is the Huskies’ all-time leader in interceptions.

BYU’s offense has suffered a lot of injuries in the backfield, headlined by quarterback Taysom Hill, who injured his foot in the first half in the season opener at Nebraska. Then at running back, BYU might be down their top two rushers in Adam Hine and Algie Brown, both of whom will be game-time decisions this week.

BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum will look to attack UConn’s man press coverage on the Cougar wide receivers, in hopes of getting this offense back on track.

Final Analysis

Expect a hangover for BYU (save your honor code jokes) early on in this game as UConn’s defense will keep the Huskies in the ball game, and give them hopes of pulling off a possible upset. But in the second half, BYU’s advantage in the trenches and with the high altitude will prevail as the Cougars will pull away for a two-touchdown victory..

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Prediction: BYU 28, UConn 13

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.