#16 (10-2) (7-5)
Sam Boyd Stadium 5 PM PT; TV:
BYU is making its fourth straight Vegas Bowl appearance while Arizona is going bowling for the first time since 1998. The oddest thing on this game is that Arizona is a three-point favorite despite BYU being ranked and having played a much tougher schedule then Arizona.
BYU must overcome its devastating loss to Utah and again settling for the Las Vegas Bowl. The upside is that the Cougars are looking for their third straight 11-2 season and have firmly brought back their winning tradition of the days of legendary coach LaVell Edwards.
BYU has the offense to move up and down on Arizona, with Austin Collie, who has 15 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards receiving, and quarterback Max Hall, who passed for 3,600 yards. The offense also boasts running back Harvey Unga and tight end Dennis Pita who had 1,000 yards at his position.
BYU will have problems defensively because its defensive backs are slow and not physical enough to cover receivers. Plus the defensive backs all year have been giving at least an eight yard cushion so that they will not be beat deep, so teams counter with crossing routes and short passes to chip away yards.
Arizona has a few good weapons of its own. The Wildcats have an All-American tight end in Rob Gronkowski, who is a touchdown machine with 10 on the year. Then quarterback Willie Tuitama who is capable of making plays and elusive in the backfield if there is pressure.
The Cats also have a 1,000-yard rusher in Nic Grigsby, who has 12 touchdowns. The Wildcat offense is very balanced and puts up nearly 37 points per game. The BYU defense is capable of making stops, but it must put pressure on the quarterback from Jan Jorgensen and David Nixon.
However, the real pressure comes from the defensive backs being able to put coverage pressure and forcing Tuitama to hold on to the ball so the defense can get pressure.
Another main problem for BYU is the lack of adjustments that BYU coaches never seem to make. The word at the school is that if they execute the plays they will be fine and be able to run their plays. However once the other schools figure it out, they make adjustments while BYU does not.
Expect this game to be high-scoring, with each team finishing in the 30s.
Offense - 444.07 ypg, 308.9 ypg passing, 135.17 ypg rushing
Defense - 350.3 ypg, 222 ypg passing, 207.25 ypg rushing
Wins versus Bowl Teams - Colorado State, Air Force
Offense - 401.3 ypg, 237.25 ypg passing, 164 ypg rushing
Defense - 302.1 ypg, 169.75 ypg passing, 132.33 ypg rushing
Wins versus Bowl Teams - California
Prediction: BYU 38, Arizona 34