BATTLE OF THE BEATENS! This game pairs two equally matched teams...wait. Did I really just write that about a BYU v Wyoming game? Really? This is the first time in the Bronco Era that a Wyoming v BYU game is even relevant. The last time you could argue that this game mattered was a 55-7 loss by the Wyoming Cowoys back in 2006. That game was only relevant because on defense we had to listen to all the media and Wyoming players brag that they had the #1 defense in the country and in the conference. A Nate Meikle kickoff return to the 1 on the first play of the game followed by a Curtis Brown TD on the next play started the end of the talk about the Pokes being relevant.
The time before that was a year earlier when we beat Wyoming to guarantee 6 wins and a bowl game. But it's not like anyone was nervous about winning that game. So I guess they have only been relevant to BYU in the fact that they give us a sure win, when we need one. But this year just feels a little different.
The Wyoming offense is ranked 100th in passing yds/game, 119th in rushing and 119th in scoring, averaging 11 points a game. This is news to me because I thought there were only 116 teams in the country. The Wyoming defense is ranked 93rd in the country in points allowed. These numbers would make any opponent giddy for an easy win. But not so fast Cougar fans. The BYU Cougars offense is 97th in passing, 82nd in rushing and 115th in scoring as they average 14 points a game. Good news is that the defense is ranked 78th, but is getting markedly better each week. But the good news ends there. No doubt about it, this game is not a battle of juggernauts, but there is a lot on the line for both teams.
Wyoming comes into the game fighting for its first conference win. They have had probably the toughest schedule in college football so far this year. The Cowboy's five losses have come to #19 Texas Longhorns, #3 Boise St. Broncos, #28 Air Force Falcons, #5 TCU Horned Frogs, and #9 Utah Utes. Playing those 5 teams in your first 7 games is no easy task.
The Cowboy offense has one and a half weapons. #32 Alvester Alexander is a very good running back and can make you pay if you don't wrap up. The good news is that the other half weapon is a RUNNING #5 Austyn Carta-Samuels. So really all the BYU defense need to do on Saturday is stop the run. As a passer, Carta-Samuels leaves a lot to be desired. He has thrown 4 TDs this year and 5 INTs. He does hit on 65% of his passes, which isn't bad, but the targets are very average. Nothing like the talent BYU faced in the Florida St. Seminoles or the TCU Horned Frogs. The Cougar DBs need to watch out for #89 Zach Bolger and #33 David Leonard. Both capable, but nothing flashy.
The BYU self scout report? First off the Cougars have their backs against the wall. They need to win 4 of the next 5 games to be bowl eligible. Could this be the first Bronco team to fall below .500?
Like the Cowboys, our offense isn't much to fear. We basically have the same problem as the Pokes. Our only threat right now is our run game, behind J.J. DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya. Jake Heaps has thrown 1 TD and 6 INTs with a 52% completion percentage. The good news about this is that BYU has shown that they cabn run the ball and run it well against stout defenses. So a swiss cheese defense like the Pokes have, should not present too many issues there.
The deciding factor in this week's game is going to be the BYU defense. They have played outstanding football in the last 2 games under a new defensive regime. If they can keep up the momentum and intensity I see this game being a victory for the Cougars. Probably only due to a defensive score.