On Saturday, the BYU Cougars and Idaho State Bengals will meet for the only the fifth time since the series started in 1932. The first three games were in the 1930's and didn't end any different than the one in 2011 as BYU leads the series 4-0. The Bengals play in the Big Sky Conference and are member of the NCAA FCS division.
Provo, UT 2011 (4-0)
In the only recent meeting between the schools, BYU dominated on both sides of the ball. BYU started off scoring right out of the gate with a 15 yard pass from Riley Nelson to Ross Apo. After an ISU field goal, the Cougars scored the rest of the points. Just before the end of the first quarter, Michael Alisa scored the second Cougar touchdown on a 42 yard run that put the Cougars up 14-3.
JJ Di Luigi started the scoring in the second quarter with a 12 yard rush and with the extra point BYU was up 21-3. BYU scored again on a Nelson 16 yard rush and then again just before the half on 7-yard pass from Nelson to Hoffman. Going into the half the Cougars led 35-3.
Nelson and Hoffman connected again to start the third quarter when they hooked up with a 19 yard pass. The offense became conservative in the second half and the defense came up with points when Daniel Sorensen returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown. The only scoring of the fourth quarter came on an 8-yard Josh Quezada rush putting the final score at 56-3.
After a tough loss at Wisconsin, the positives were harder to come by and the negatives were on full display. Injuries and a loss of confidence hit the team, and a very good Wisconsin team took advantage of them. Many had the game as a loss from the beginning so it wasn't as heartbreaking as it first appeared but they will have things to correct before they travel to Notre Dame, and this week is the perfect week to practice timing and execution.
Cody Hoffman was the bright spot for the Cougars. Even with a few pass interference calls being reversed, Hoffman ended with seven receptions and 113 yards. If the Wisconsin cornerbacks hadn't been holding and tackling him, he could have had much more. He has been steady all year and once again was able to snag a touchdown with someone hanging all over him.
Even with the struggles of the offense, the Cougars won the turnover battle. BYU had only one turnover on a very bad pass. However, the Cougars were able to force a fumble and were gifted a ball that fell into Kyle Van Noys chest. Anytime you can win the turnover battle against a quality opponent, it puts you in a position to be in the game.
A recurring problem in all three loses is the dropped passes. Some drops ended drives, while others ended momentum. Regardless of how they happened, some were devastating. With the loss of JD Falslev earlier in the week and the departure of Mitch Mathews (injured shoulder) and Devin Mahina (groin), the room for error was non-existent. With at least seven drops on the day, the Cougars really hurt themselves.
The injuries overall hurt the Cougars. Ryker Mathews, Spencer Hadley, Mahina and Mathews going down it not only hurt for the game but it will have long term effects on the team. Mathews is out for the year, and the others could be out for one or more games. This week will give the replacements a chance to make plays but the team could really use the injured players in the coming weeks. It will also give the players a chance to partially heal before playing Notre Dame.
This is the type of game that the opponent is over matched in every position on the field. The biggest match up may be how the Cougars come out mentally. Not only is the game sandwiched between a Wisconsin loss and a trip to South Bend, the game is on senior day and so emotions may play a part. If the Cougars can control their emotions and focus on the game, a number of seniors may see playing time early.
The Cougars should dominate in all aspects of the game. With this in mind, a match-up to keep an eye on will be how the second and third string players attack when given a chance to play. If BYU can get these players in early, they can use this time to build depth and experience. It is always a positive when a team can gain experience without the pressure of the game being on the line.
The Keys to Watch
When Idaho State has the ball: Look for the ball to be in the air a lot. ISU has more completed passes (268) then rushing attempts (262). When they do rush the ball, don't look for them to pick up many yards as they are only averaging 2.8 yards per rush and only 84 yards a game on the ground. Look for the Cougar defense to take advantage of the one dimensional offense and to camp in the backfield. As the defense puts pressure on ISU quarterback Justin Arias, don't be surprised to see turnovers as he has 10 interceptions on the year.
When BYU has the ball: Look for BYU to feature the running game on Saturday. While there may be some early passing, the Bengals are giving up over five yards per rush and the Cougars will take advantage of this. Taysom Hill provides a dual threat and if things get ugly quickly, the coaches will want to manage the game on the ground. Look for the offensive line to impose their will upon a much smaller and less physical defense. Keep an eye out for big plays by the play-makers, but prepare for a conservative second half.
Idaho State is proud to count ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hodge has an alumni. He still ranks first in all-purpose yards per game at 192.1, second in rushing touchdowns (31), and third in rushing yards (2,713). For a full article on Hodge, click here.
At this time there are no future meeting scheduled between the schools.
The Broadcasting Details
Time: 1:00 pm MST
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium-Provo, Utah
Radio (BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143
Listen Live via Internet (KSL): Click Here