Kragthorpe: BYU will lose; Utah, USU will win
Utah was under considerable pressure in its opening game, and came through with a tense victory over Utah State. This weekend, BYU and USU now know how the Utes felt. A look at Saturday's games:
• Weber State at Utah, Noon, Pac-12 Network
Weber State lost 45-13 at BYU last September, which provides some gauge of this matchup. That was also the game when former BYU quarterback Riley Nelson absorbed the hit that fractured his back and altered the Cougars' season.
That's not to say anything so unfortunate will happen to the Utes, just that these games rarely play out as routinely as expected.
Utah's obvious goals are to maintain some offensive momentum after gaining 450 yards against USU, while tightening up a defense that gave up 487 yards. Utah 42, Weber State 14.
• Utah State at Air Force, 1:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
In joining the Mountain West, the Aggies are happy to be playing several old rivals. But there's not much history with Air Force, which actually makes USU's conference debut more intriguing. Nobody's sure how USU will handle the Falcons' unconventional offense. BYU seemingly always handled AFA's attack, while Utah usually struggled to beat the Falcons, and we'll see how the Aggies do.
The opener at Utah was pretty much a bonus opportunity for USU, but there's some risk involved in this game. The Aggies need a victory to establish themselves in MW play and to avoid any suggestion of a 1-4 start, with trips to USC and San Jose State following next week's home game with Weber State.
One way or another, quarterback Chuckie Keeton and the USU offense should be able to outscore AFA. Utah State 35, Air Force 27.
• Texas at BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN2
If BYU produces another offensive disaster, it will be a very long two weeks in Provo in advance of Utah's visit Sept. 21. The Cougars really need a respectable showing if they hope to establish any mind of momentum in the tenures of offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterback Taysom Hill. Obviously, they'll both look better if receiver Cody Hoffman can play, after missing the Virginia game with a hamstring injury.
Lost amid the concerns about the offense is the fact this will be a much tougher test for BYU's defense than Virginia presented. The defense will have to produce a phenomenal effort just to keep the Cougars in the game. Texas 28, BYU 17.