OU football on Saturday will play in a stadium named for Lavell Edwards. A coach Brent Venables well remembers.
Edwards was a Brigham Young legend, coaching the Cougars from 1972-2000, to a record of 257-101-3. Edwards was known for his pioneering passing. BYU quarterbacks Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen and Robbie Bosco are legends of the fall.
“Coach Edwards, obviously, he’s a legend and a hall of famer,” Venables said. “He won. That’s what I remember. He won a lot. He had great quarterback play and a great culture.”
Venables was an assistant coach at Kansas State when the 1996 Wildcats lost 19-15 to BYU in the Cotton Bowl. That Cougar team was quarterbacked by Steve Sarkisian, now the coach at Texas.
BYU still produces quality quarterbacks. Taysom Hill has become a New Orleans Saints icon as a hybrid QB. Jaren Hall started a game for the Minnesota Vikings this season, after quarterbacking BYU the previous two seasons. The Jets’ Zach Wilson, you know about, as the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft.
And current BYU Kedon Slovis, who might return from injury against OU, is a solid thrower, with 11,689 career yards at Southern Cal, Pittsburgh and BYU.
But the Cougars’ offense is a far cry from LaVell Edwards’ days. BYU’s offensive efficiency rating of .212 is the worst in the 14-team Big 12 and one of the worst non-Kansas offenses in the last 10 years of the league.
Venables put on a good face concerning the Cougars’ offense.
“BYU plays really well at home,” Venables said. “They expect their starting quarterback back this week as well as several other guys who have missed the last few weeks,” Venables said.
“Their turnover margin has been the best in the Big 12 when they’ve played at home. Offensively, again they’ve got good strong running backs and a left tackle who will get drafted early. A quarterback in Slovis that, career-wise, is just south of 12,000 yards passing and threw for 360 yards against Kansas in a really tight game.”
But BYU has scored just 64 points in its last five games (OU scored 59 alone last Saturday against West Virginia). The Cougars have lost three straight — 45-13 to Iowa State, 37-7 at West Virginia and 35-6 at Texas.
And BYU in recent years, despite the quarterbacking, has not been a touchdown factory. The Cougars of recent vintage are known as much for hard-hitting defense as high-powered offense.
The days of LaVell Edwards are long past.
Let’s get to the predictions.
Last week: 37-18. Season: 457-146.
Oklahoma at Brigham Young: Sooners 37-10. OU’s first game ever in Utah. The Sooners also never have played a game in New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho or Montana. The Mountain Time Zone remains largely virgin territory for OU.
Oklahoma State at Houston: Cowboys 28-20. The last time OSU played at Houston, the Cougars won 34-25, in 2006.
Texas at Iowa State: Cyclones 21-20. Big 12 upset special. The Longhorns have won just one of their last four games in Ames and have scored just 45 points in those four games.
Kansas State at Kansas: Wildcats 34-20. With Jason Bean at quarterback, the Jayhawks have a good shot at the upset. But Bean suffered a head injury vs. Texas Tech, and his status is a mystery.
Central Florida at Texas Tech: Red Raiders 23-17. The winner becomes bowl-eligible after both sprang upsets last Saturday.
Baylor at Texas Christian: Horned Frogs 30-17. TCU needs to win this game and next week in Norman to be bowl eligible.
Cincinnati at West Virginia: Mountaineers 28-14. Big East members together from 2005-11, UC and WVU now meet as Big 12 members.
Georgia at Tennessee: Bulldogs 33-14. Top-ranked Georgia is one win away from its 28th straight victory, which would tie Alabama for the longest in Southeastern Conference history.
Florida at Missouri: Tigers 27-26. Give Mizzou credit. The 8-2 Tigers are legit, with victories over Kansas State and Tennessee.
Kentucky at South Carolina: Wildcats 23-21. The Gamecocks need to beat UK and Clemson to become bowl eligible.
New Mexico State at Auburn: Tigers 30-20. This isn’t the automatic victory it was contracted to be. The Aggies have become a little bit competitive under Jerry Kill.
Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State: Bulldogs 19-7. Mississippi State athletic director Zac Selmon made his first big decision, firing Zach Arnett as head coach after just 11 games.
Louisiana-Monroe at Ole Miss: Rebels 48-10. Yep, you guessed it. It’s the SEC’s Dead Week. Rumdums the week before Thanksgiving.
Georgia State at Louisiana State: Tigers 51-21. Maybe this is the week when OU will play Maine next season.
Florida International at Arkansas: Razorbacks 48-7. Will the Hogs fire Sam Pittman just because they don’t know what else to do?
Abilene Christian at Texas A&M: Aggies 56-10. A&M beat Mississippi State 51-10 last week, the Ags fired coach Jimbo Fisher before Mississippi State fired Arnett. It was quite a race.
Chattanooga at Alabama: Crimson Tide 62-7. At least Dead Week this year consists of just two Division I-AA opponents in the SEC.
Illinois at Iowa: Hawkeyes 16-14. Iowa needs to win to avoid needing to win in Lincoln on Thanksgiving Friday to secure the Big Ten West.
Minnesota at Ohio State: Buckeyes 37-10. Only Jim Harbaugh and his loyalists could turn America into Ohio State fans.
Michigan at Maryland: Wolverines 31-10. Yay for Michigan. It finally beat a good team (Penn State). We now return you to regularly-scheduled programming.
Rutgers at Penn State: Nittany Lions 27-7. After losing to Michigan, Penn State’s James Franklin fired his offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich, who was coaching at Shippensburg when Mike Gundy came calling in 2013. Yurcich’s best days were in Stillwater, though he went on to Texas, Ohio State and Penn State.
Nebraska at Wisconsin: Badgers 23-20. If the 5-5 Cornhuskers beat Wisconsin and Iowa, and Iowa loses to Illinois, Nebraska is in the Big Ten title game.
Purdue at Northwestern: Wildcats 25-14. I don’t know if Northwestern interim David Braun can build a program, but I know he can coach a team. His Wildcats are 5-5, and in September, they seemed headed for no better than 2-10.
Michigan State at Indiana: Hoosiers 35-15. IU has come alive of late, with a close loss at Penn State, a win over Wisconsin and an overtime loss at Illinois.
Washington at Oregon State: Huskies 41-38. If the 8-2 Beavers win out (beating UW and Oregon), they will be in the Pac-12 title game, unless Arizona wins out. A four-way tie for first place is possible.
Utah at Arizona: Wildcats 29-21. Stunning season by UofA. A victory over the Utes would make ‘Zona 8-3.
Oregon at Arizona State: Ducks 52-20. ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, whose tenure has been rocked with scandal, resigned this week. He made waves by disparaging West Virginia after the Sun Devils accepted an invitation to the Big 12.
UCLA at Southern Cal: Trojans 41-32. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke called for UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s job, after the Bruins fell to 6-4.
Colorado at Washington State: Buffaloes 30-28. National upset special. Deion Sanders’ team is in free fall, but so is WSU. The Cougars have lost six straight after starting the season 4-0.
California at Stanford: Golden Bears 26-21. Next season, what passes for a rivalry in the Bay Area will be an Atlantic Coast Conference affair.
Louisville at Miami: Hurricanes 27-24. Miami somehow is 2-4 in the ACC. Louisville is 3½ games better.
North Carolina at Clemson: Tigers 31-27. UNC has lost to Virginia and Georgia Tech but somehow still is 1½ games ahead of Clemson.
North Carolina State at Virginia Tech: Hokies 25-21. The winner has a chance to finish third in the ACC.
Duke at Virginia: Blue Devils 21-18. Will Texas A&M come calling for Duke coach Mike Elko?
Wake Forest at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 34-19. Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman vs. the school he quarterbacked for four years.
Syracuse at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets 31-24. Matchup of 5-5 teams; the Ramblin’ Wreck needs this game more, since it plays Georgia next week.
Boston College at Pittsburgh: Eagles 21-17. BC opened the season with 1-3, with a three-point win over Holy Cross, but somehow, the Eagles are 6-4 and on the verge of a seventh win.
North Alabama at Florida State: Seminoles 47-7. Is this what Florida State means when it says it acts like an SEC team?
North Texas at Tulsa: Golden Hurricane 26-17. Give TU coach Kevin Wilson credit; his Hurricane still is playing hard, witness its near-upset of Tulane last week.
Tulane at Florida Atlantic: Green Wave 25-24. Tulane’s last four wins — over North Texas, Rice, East Carolina and Tulsa — have been by a combined 14 points.
Southern Methodist at Memphis: Mustangs 35-31. Stiff test for SMU in trying to keep pace with Texas-San Antonio and Tulane as American Conference unbeatens.
South Florida at Texas-San Antonio: Roadrunners 39-24. UTSA coach Jeff Traylor is mentioned prominently for the A&M job, but the Aggies probably will want a bigger name.
East Carolina at Navy: Midshipmen 24-23. Navy has clawed its way to a 3-3 record in the American.
Rice at Charlotte: Owls 21-20. Rice needs to beat Charlotte and Florida Atlantic to become bowl eligible.
Temple at Alabama-Birmingham: Blazers 23-19. Rough year for UAB coach Trent Dilfer, a coaching novice who is 3-7 in his maiden season.
Nevada-Las Vegas at Air Force: Rebels 33-20. A Mountain West showdown, between teams tied for first place, at 5-1.
New Mexico at Fresno State: Bulldogs 41-17. Fresno State can be tied for second in the Mountain West, come Saturday night.
Boise State at Utah State: Broncos 30-20. The Broncos move on without coach Andy Avalos, fired this week with a 5-5 record. They also could be tied for second place, with a victory.
San Diego State at San Jose State: Spartans 32-7. Aztec coach Brady Hoke announced he would retire after this season, with San Diego State suffering through a 3-7 season
Hawaii at Wyoming: Cowboys 30-20. The road team has won two straight years.
Nevada at Colorado State: Rams 42-16. CSU can become bowl eligible with wins over Nevada and Hawaii.
Appalachian State at James Madison: Dukes 34-24. JMU is running out of time to win its appeal for bowl eligibility (since moving up from Division I-AA) and running out of opponents that can ruin its unbeaten season.
Coastal Carolina at Army: Chanticleers 29-19. Coastal has won five in a row to get to 7-3.
Texas State at Arkansas State: Bobcats 34-24. Can the Red Wolves beat Texas State or Marshall and become bowl eligible, stunning everyone who watched Ark State lose 73-0 at OU on opening day?
Louisiana at Troy: Trojans 23-7. Troy has secured the Sun Belt West title.
Marshall at South Alabama: Jaguars 21-19. South Alabama beat Arkansas State 21-14 last week. The team that beat OSU by 26 in Stillwater beat (by seven points) the team that lost at OU by 73 points. Football is a funny game.
Old Dominion at Georgia Southern: Golden Eagles 28-23. ODU needs to sweep the Georgias (Southern, State) to become bowl eligible.