Not much can be said about last week's game. The Cougars had a chance to get a big win over a P5 opponent and couldn't get it done. Yes, Missouri is not the team it typically is and its offense is terrible this year, but it's still a road win against an SEC opponent. 3rd down defense was terrible for BYU and one could argue that and a couple of plays were the difference between a win and a loss.
It can be safely said that Saturday afternoon's game against Fresno State will be very different. BYU is not going up against a top-10 defense on the road. It is playing a Fresno State team that is 103rd in the country in yards per game allowed, giving up 449 yards per game. That is more than 150 yards more than Missouri gives up per game. Needless to say, the Cougars should have a much easier time moving the ball against Fresno State than they did against Mizzou. When it comes to passing yards per game the Bulldogs are 46th, giving up 209 yards per game so they have a pretty average passing defense. For comparison's sake, Mizzou gives up 184 passing yards per game. The real difference is in the rushing yards per game statistic as Mizzou gives up less than half of what Fresno State does at 112.7 yards per game. The problem this creates is the Cougars haven't been able to run the ball effectively this season. The silver lining is that Fresno State has not exactly played elite offenses either though. Outside of Ole Miss, the best offense they've played might have been Utah State or Air Force. Missouri has played much better offenses than that, thus its not a straight across comparison. BYU should be able to move the ball far easier and possibly come close to 500 total yards of offense.
So why are we talking about Missouri so much when this is an article about the Fresno State game? The reason is that it seems so many are down on the team after last week's game. The Cougars had a chance to win it but didn't get the job done, that is true. But the point I'm making is that was an elite defense and the offense still had an element of success moving the ball even if Mangum didn't have a great game and had a costly fumble which one could argue was the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. Not all hope is lost. I'm perhaps being overly optimistic here but I really like the Cougars ability to dominate this game. In its seven losses, Fresno State has lost by an average of 28 points per game. In its three wins its won by an average of 17 points, two of those blowouts coming against Hawaii (almost everyone is destroying them by the way) and FCS opponent Abilene Christian, a team the Bulldogs beat 34-13.
That was a big build up to basically tell you BYU is going to roll over Fresno State. That's part of the reason this game is on BYUtv and not one of the ESPN channels. Anyways, here are your bold predictions for the final home game of the season.
Beau Hoge will lead a scoring drive in the fourth quarter
This is a game that I expect to be fully in hand in the fourth quarter. The offensive line is healthier now and though, in my opinion, Mangum has kind of hit the freshman wall I think he'll have an impressive bounce back game. He won't put up numbers the way that he did against Wagner. He won't pick them apart that easily but he'll have his best game against an FBS opponent since the East Carolina game in which he threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. If Mangum can throw the ball efficiently and the run game can get something going against a poor run defense in Fresno State, I expect to see BYU up by at least 3 touchdowns in the fourth. If that happens it wouldn't be surprising to see Hoge get some action and maybe even put some points on the board. If Hoge is going to get another crack at the end zone this is the game to do it.
BYU will have a non-offensive touchdown
In 10 games this season Fresno State has given up six non-offensive touchdowns. One was a punt return against Utah by Britain Covey. The other five were on defense, with three interceptions and 2 fumbles returned for touchdowns. That's only .6 per game but still, considering opponents, is a high number. The BYU defense has not shown the propensity for forcing turnovers like they did at the beginning of the season but that ability is still there. At one point Kai Nacua was leading the country in interceptions when he had four after three games, only two in which he played. He hasn't recorded one since but its time for that to change. Fresno State has trotted out four different quarterbacks this season, Kilton Anderson, Zack Greenlee, Ford Childress and Chason Virgil. Those four have all had their chances to try to take over as the heirs to NFL quarterback Derek Carr. None has been too successful with Greenlee playing arguably the best. The four quarterbacks combine for 20 touchdowns to go with 13 interceptions. I expect to see Greenlee get the start after an impressive showing against Hawaii, he threw for six touchdowns and 285 yards. At this point, that's the most impressive performance of any Fresno State quarterback this season, despite the opponent. The Cougars are going to get there points on offense but it's possible we'll see some other guys get in the end zone.
Devon Blackmon will finally score a touchdown
This has been something we've been waiting to see for nearly two seasons. Blackmon has been touted as a guy with great speed who was really going to stretch the field and unleash this offense but up to now he still hasn't found the end zone. There was the play against Houston last season that he did score but it was called back because he lined up too far off the line. He's had a couple that were very close but just short. The bulk of Blackmon's routes have been short to intermediate. I have not noticed too many deep routes for him. The main thing is, I think everybody really wants him to find the end zone, the team included. With BYU expected to control the game start to finish and be up by multiple touchdowns for a good portion of it, this may be the perfect opportunity to call plays specifically designed to get Blackmon in the end zone. It is senior night, why not get the man a touchdown?
There you have it. The Cougars are facing a defense far worse than Missouri and an offense that may be worse than Missouri, albeit does average 4 yards more than the Tigers. With all that taken into account the Cougars should be able to roll over the Bulldogs. BYU wins 45-13.