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What you need to know: BYU vs Missouri preview

For the first time since Steve Young roamed the field, BYU will play the Missouri Tigers.

The Tigers offense looks to improve against the strong Cougars defense.
The Tigers offense looks to improve against the strong Cougars defense.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and the Missouri Tigers have only met once previous to the meeting this Saturday. Many fans only know about this game from the all-time highlights as it took place 32 years ago in the Holiday Bowl. The game was fantastic and if you ever run across a replay of it, don't hesitate to bask in the glory of Steve Young and his teammates.

San Diego, CA 1983 (21-17)

In a game that was marred by turnovers, the Cougars and Tigers couldn't seem to find any semblance of consistency. A number of scoring drives were halted thanks to turnovers and penalties, leading to a low scoring game. In all BYU had five turnovers (3 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles) and Missouri had four (2 Interceptions, 2 Fumbles). Missouri started the scoring with a two-yard run halfway through the first quarter. The teams moved the ball but couldn't get more than a Tigers field goal and a touchdown until late in the half. With just over three minutes left in the half Steve Young kept the ball for an 11 yard touchdown, cutting into the Tigers lead.

BYU recorded the only score in the third quarter, but it took most of the quarter to get it. With less than three minutes remaining in the third, Young found Eddie Stinnett for a 32 yard touchdown pass, and the Cougars first lead of the game at 14-10. Missouri would answer back in the fourth quarter as they gave the ball to their running back once again for a two-yard run and a 17-14 lead. With about five minutes left in the game, the Cougars once again fumbled the ball and things looked bad for the team. However the Cougars defense stuffed the Tigers at the seven yard line to give the Cougars one more shot with four minutes left and 93 yards to go. The ensuing battle on the field went back and forth and at one point they had to decide to try and tie with a field goal from the 25 or go for it on fourth and 10. They went for it and gained the first by inches. And then Young made history. On first down Young shoveled the ball to Stinnett who was heading right, with Young carrying out the fake by rolling to the left. Stinnett suddenly turned around and threw the ball just over the Tiger defenders and Young grabbed it and ran into the endzone for the winning touchdown. After the play Young had finished the game with a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown, and a receiving touchdown. After an interception ended the Tigers drive the Cougars walked out with a 21-17 win, and a path towards the 1984 National Championship.

The Outlook

After an uninspired performance in San Jose the Cougars look to have a number of improvements that need to be made. The Cougars came away with the win but it was still disappointing in how the game played out. Nobody truly believes the Cougars are as bad as they looked on Saturday, but they need to play better than they did against the Spartans if they want to win against an SEC team.

The Positives

The defense did their job and held the Spartans to nine points, even after the special teams gave up bunches of yards before the defense could get on the field. They kept the Spartans top running back to almost half of his normal yardage per game, and kept the passing game in check as they gave up less than 150 yards. The defense did give up some plays, missed some assignments, and lost contain a few times but they were the highlight of the team in the win.

The Negatives

After the first two offensive drives the Cougars offense seemed to take the night off. In the entire game the offense only put together four promising drives. The first two ended in touchdowns, the third ended up having a possible touchdown called incomplete before turning into the pick-six, and the fourth gave the Cougars their field goal but two key holding penalties kept the Cougars out of the endzone. The Cougars will need to find their offense again for the last three games in November if they want to guarantee double digit wins.

The Match-up

The Cougars offensive line will have their hands full with the talented Tigers defensive front. In nine games the Tigers have dropped the quarterback 26 times to rank 15th in the country in defensive sacks. With a couple of Cougar lineman still questionable for the game, the Cougars will need to bring their best game if they want to come out with a win.

The Keys to Watch

When the Tigers have the ball:

Watch for the Tigers to have a balanced attack, but possibly lean a bit more towards the run against the Cougars. The passing game has been in turmoil for the Tigers this year and it hasn't improved with the suspension of Maty Mauk. Although he didn't play much better than current starter Drew Lock, he was a slightly better quarterback overall. Currently Lock is completing less than 50% of his passes, has three touchdowns to five interceptions, and has yet to reach 1000 yards in his 178 pass attempts. The Running game will need to pick up some of the slack but it appears that this has also been run by committee this year as three running backs have over 100 yards. Ish Witter is the leader with 101 carriers but only 423 yards. Watch for Russell Hansbrough to play a big role in the game as he earned more rushes last week than any other player.

Watch for the Cougars to focus on stopping the running game first and forcing the Tigers to pass the ball. If the Cougars can make the Tigers one-dimensional, with that dimension being the passing game, BYU has a great chance in the game. The Cougars defensive line is coming in with 30 sacks on the year and sits at sixth in the nation. Putting pressure on Lock will force bad throws, hopefully causing a few turnovers. The Cougars have seen the Tigers struggle on offense, going over 40 drives without a touchdown, and should be chomping at the bit.

When the Cougars have the ball:

Once again the Cougars will be facing a strong defense that doesn't like to give up points. Watch for the Cougars to try and establish the run in order to relive some of the pressure that is bound to find Tanner Mangum. Watch for Mangum to get passes off quickly, limiting the time Missouri has to rush him, and forcing the defense to adjust on the run. Watch for a healthier, hopefully more than Tejan Koroma and Ryker Mathews, offensive line to block for Mangum and the running backs. It is also possible that the running backs will be at full health with Adam Hine and Riley Burt back in action. If that is the case, the Cougars could mix up the run with a number of possibilities that will keep the Tigers guessing.

Watch for the Tigers to focus on pressuring Mangum. They want to get through an offensive line that may not be at full health and could allow some sacks and loss of yards. The Tigers will still need to focus a little bit on the run but after the Cougars gained 39 yards against the 109th ranked rush defense, the Tigers shouldn't be worrying too much at the start. Watch for the defense to take the team on their back and try to confuse the Cougars offense in the same way that Michigan did. If they can be successful at this, they will hope that their offense can do just enough.

Interesting Tidbit

One of the traditions the BYU Cougars have tried to establish is a sea of fans wearing the same color during the game. The Missouri Tigers have mastered this and could give the Cougar faithful some tips. They call it "A sea of gold" and for all but the last home game they throw on their gold and create a "goldrush". The last home game of the season is always reserved for the black-out game and the fans and team take it seriously and black-out the stadium.

Next Meeting

The next scheduled meeting between the Cougars and Tigers is scheduled for November 7th, 2020 in Provo.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 5:30 pm MT

Where: Arrowhead Stadium-Kansas City, MO


Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

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