Friday, September 18, 2009

GAME PREVIEW: BYU vs. Florida State

If this game had been played two years ago, I feel BYU would have won—no problem. If this game had been played two weeks ago, it looked like Florida State was going to be favored. Today, an upset of Oklahoma and a squeaker against Jacksonville State has most the pundits lauding BYU as the hands down winner. Not so fast. Florida State lost three fumbles against Jacksonville State in weather conditions that appear to have been less than favorable; that is why the game was so close. College football is still a game where teams can play as different as night and day from one game to the next, and this is still a very talented Florida State football team that has its pride bruised. They will come with their A game. That game includes a lot of speed. Team speed has always been a hallmark of Florida State. My other concern is injuries on the BYU offensive line and defensive secondary. How will those injuries impact each unit’s performance? This week also poses the threat of déjà vu for the Cougars. In week 1, déjà vu was good for BYU as they opened the season against the no. 3 ranked team, just as in 1984, and they pulled out the upset. The déjà vu I am talking about this week goes back to 1996. After upsetting highly ranked Texas A&M in the season opening game, BYU followed up with a 50+ point victory in game 2. Then, BYU played a strong, nationally-recognized program—the Washington Huskies. The 1996 team’s ego was so out of control that they, reportedly, were arguing in the locker room before the Washington game about what socks to wear. After the game, the socks did not matter anymore as the team played poorly and fell to 2-1. Hopefully, BYU has more maturity than that 1996 team, has 2008 still fresh in their minds, and has the home field work its magic. Bronco Mendenhall has emphasized winning at home, and BYU has not lost in Provo for three complete seasons. This is the first chance the 2009 BYU team will have to play for the home crowd, so I anticipate that they will come out with a lot of intensity and adrenaline, if for no other reason but to satisfy those in attendance. I think the home field will be the deciding factor in this game, but not for the reasons already cited. Elevation will play a key role. Yes, I know that Florida State beat Colorado in Boulder just 2 years ago, but that was a sub 0.500 ball club. Plus, I don’t base this on science, but on experience. I have seen how the altitude affected no. 1 Miami in 1990, and Texas A&M in 1996. Anyways, the Seminoles can let the Colorado game make them complacent and give them a false sense of security. I am fine with that. In the end, I believe this will be the difference maker.

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