Eyes of Texas will be on BYU when Cougars clash with Longhorns, but what will they see?

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake reacts to a BYU interception against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. It was one of five takeaways for the Cougars on the day. Next up for the Cougars is a Saturday afternoon battle against No. 7 Texas in Austin.

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BYU will take its 5-2 record to Austin, Texas, to play the Longhorns before 100,000 fans on Saturday, and while BYU has a 4-1 record against Texas, this BYU team is a mystery for all who follow the Cougars.

BYU’s identity right now is to win games with field position, fewer penalties and winning the turnover battle. It is not a team that is gaining more yards, first downs and dominating time of possession against foes. That is a strange but effective way of winning and it would be very tough to do in Austin. To beat Texas, BYU needs to pass effectively because the Longhorns rank 75th in pass defense. In every other category, they are elite defensively.


BYU ranks fourth in takeaways with 16, is tied for third in turnover margin with plus-nine, ranks fifth in interceptions with 11 and is 30th in fumbles recovered with five. Ryan Rehkow’s punting has kept opponents deep and he has literally switched fields on opponents. It isn’t pretty, but this is how the Cougars are winning.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: We got a glimpse of Aidan Robbins’ size, speed and physicality in BYU’s win over Texas Tech. If Robbins can deliver the rest of the season, what impact will he make? Predict BYU vs Texas.

Jay Drew: BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said Monday that the Longhorns have the best defensive line he’s seen in 24 years of coaching. That doesn’t bode well for a BYU rushing attack that has struggled to find its footing in 2023, with or without UNLV transfer Aidan Robbins. Expect the 1,000-yard rusher in 2022 to get a lot of early work for the Cougars against Texas, but don’t expect a lot of production. Texas is totally capable of dominating the line of scrimmage, especially against a BYU offensive line that couldn’t overwhelm average D lines, let alone one of the best in the country.

Robbins showed some flashes last Saturday in his first work since Week 2, as did freshman LJ Martin. I just don’t see the Cougars rushing for more than 50 yards this week. That means Kedon Slovis will have to have his best game in a BYU uniform for the Cougars to compete. I don’t see it happening deep in the heart of Texas.

Prediction: Texas 38, BYU 17.

Dick Harmon: BYU will struggle to run the ball against Texas and if you add in losses from some sacks, it will likely be negative. I do think Robbins can effectively make a big difference in some situational plays that could lead to scores or first downs. Having that threat is a big deal.

Just a reminder that although the run is extremely important, and the threat of it is key, BYU has won huge games with negative rush yardage before. In 1980, when Jim McMahon threw that Hail Mary pass to Clay Brown to beat SMU, BYU had minus-2 yards. In 1990, when Ty Detmer led BYU to a win over No. 1 Miami, BYU had minus-68 yards. In the Max Hall-led win over No. 3 Oklahoma in 2009, BYU had minus-28 yards on the ground.

I think Robbins will be a positive going forward, I just don’t see how BYU’s offensive production shown so far this season will be able to upset the Longhorns in Austin.

Prediction: Texas 38, BYU 21.

Cougar tales

BYU got an inspiring bounce-back win against Texas Tech after an embarrassing loss at TCU. Here is some of our coverage of that game:

  • BYU’s defense knocks the spit out of Texas (Dick Harmon)

  • Opportunistic BYU wins game it has no business winning (Jay Drew)

  • Time to face the music: BYU is a night team (Dave McCann)

  • BYU’s success is due to these three areas (Jay Drew)

The Big 12 basketball media days were staged in Kansas City this past week. Jay Drew reports how Mark Pope feels about being picked 15th and other topics. In this piece, Baylor’s coach remembers his experience in Provo.

From the archives


From the X-verse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Here are the other 5-2 teams: SMU, Memphis, Duke, Kansas, K-State, Maryland, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Wyoming, UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Texas State, Troy. There are more 6-2 teams not listed here.

IMO, BYU fits right in the middle of this group, right between Kansas and K-State. I predict the Cougars will get two more wins and be bowl eligible. This is not a great team. But it has been good enough against a weak schedule. The funny thing is that there was so much criticism of their schedule as an independent. Now they’re in a P5 and the criticism remains. At the end of the day, you have to beat whoever you play.

— BrianB

“How in the world are these guys 5-2 and a win away from bowl eligibility with five games remaining on the schedule?”

It’s easy Debbie Downer — they score more points than the opposing team. You seem to think that yards gained is more important than points scored. Get a clue.

— 65TossPowerTrap

Up Next

  • Oct. 26 | All day | Women’s tennis | TCU Hidden Duel | @Fort Worth

  • Oct. 26 | 5:30 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | @Kansas State

  • Oct. 27 | TBA | Men’s soccer | Regional Playoff | @Monmouth, Oregon

  • Oct. 28 | 1:30 p.m. | Football | Texas | @Austin

BYU’s Zac Stout puts pressure on Texas’ quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Austin Texas. BYU won 41-7. Saturday the Cougars will be back in Austin, hoping for a similar result. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
BYU’s Zac Stout puts pressure on Texas’ quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Austin Texas. BYU won 41-7. Saturday the Cougars will be back in Austin, hoping for a similar result. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News