GAME PREVIEW: 20 BYU vs. 3 Oklahoma

GAME PREVIEW: 20 BYU vs. 3 Oklahoma

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PROVO -- The 2009 BYU football season kicks-off with a doozy against one of the top teams in college football featuring one of the best quarterbacks in college football.

The #3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners, led by Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, look at 2009 as a year for redemption. The Sooners, #1 at the time, were blown out in the BCS Championship game by Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Bradford returned to the Stillwater campus with one goal in mind, win a national championship.

The #20 ranked Cougars present a formidable foe and tough test with a quick-strike offense and improving defense. Senior quarterback Max Hall may also look at 2009 as a year of reparation. Hall struggled in BYU's three loses (TCU, Utah, Arizona) leaving some fans questioning Hall's stability and pocket presence against top competition.

Both teams have something to prove. And, their opportunity at a second chance begins Saturday, September 5 in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

KSL takes a look back and a look ahead as we prep for game day.

What did we learn about BYU during Fall camp?

- Injuries could play a big role in the BYU's success in 2009 - The Cougars' "Big 3" needs to come up big - McKay Jacobson will be the next Austin Collie - The defense appears to be deeper and improved led by senior DL Jan Jorgensen

What questions do we have about BYU?

- Will the "green" offensive line be able to protect Max Hall? - Is Harvey Unga's hamstring going to be an ongoing issue? - Special teams. Mitch Payne barely won the kicking battle in fall camp. - Can this be a breakout year for O'Neill Chambers ?

What can BYU expect from Oklahoma?

- The Sooners taking to the air. Sam Bradford won the Heisman last year as a sophomore after throwing for 50 touchdowns and 4,720 yards. ([TE Jermaine Gresham is out]( following a midweek knee tweak) - The Sooners pounding it on the ground. Two 1,000-yard backs return to a team that recorded 45 rushing touchdowns. - Lots of speed on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma is fast, deep and athletic. - A home field advantage playing in nearby Dallas.

What can we expect from BYU vs. Oklahoma?

- A balanced attack. If Unga is healthy and with Manase Tonga back BYU needs to complement Hall, Pitta, Jacobson and company with a steady and effective run game to keep Oklahoma's explosive offense off the field. - The Sooners are going to score points (Avg. 51 points/game in 2008). The Cougars need to avoid long drive fatigue and somehow find a way to get takeaways. - A fast-tempo attack on offense as coordinator Robert Anae runs the show from the press box for the first time.


- BYU finished 10-3 in 2008, losing in the Las Vegas Bowl to unranked Arizona. - The Cougars finished 2008 ranked #20 in the AP poll and #25 in the Coaches' poll. - BYU has had three consecutive 10+ wins seasons. - Oklahoma finished 2008 with a 12-2 record having lost to Texas in Texas and to Florida in the BCS Championship game played in Florida. - OU finished 2008 ranked #5 in both the AP and Coaches' polls. - BYU is 1-0 all-time against Oklahoma (1994 Copper Bowl). - BYU is 14-22 all-time against the Big 12. - BYU has struggled against ranked teams; 2-18 in last 20 games versus ranked opponents; 12 consecutive losses to ranked nonconference opponents. - BYU has played 17 road or neutral games against ranked opponents, 10 of which were against nonconference opposition; BYU's record in those games is 0-10. - Only ten of FBS 119 teams made fewer field goals than Oklahoma's eight (8/13) in 2008. BYU saw only 11 field goals go through the uprights last season (11/17). - The combined score of BYU's three home games this season is 144-17 - The Cougars scored 56 offensive touchdowns (three TDs on defense), while Sooners scored 96 offensive touchdowns (two TDs on defense, one on special teams). - In 2008, OU was 1st in scoring offense, and BYU was 26th. - The Cougars' first two games are on the road (Oklahoma, Tulane), followed by three home games (Florida State, Colorado State, Utah State). They then play four of their next five on the road (UNLV, SDSU, Wyoming, New Mexico). BYU's homecoming is against TCU. The last two games are at home (Air Force, Utah).


Win or lose, Bronco Mendenhall says BYU needs to play teams like Oklahoma if the Cougars are to someday compete for a national championship. The Sooners may be more than BYU can handle, but they said the same thing when Boise State battled and beat OU in the BCS. BYU's front-line stars are good enough to put a dent in the Sooners' veneer, and Bronco says most games are decided by only a handful of plays. If enough of those plays go BYU's way, the Cougars can stage the upset.

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