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BYU vs. Boise State Q&A: So is this a rivalry, or what?

Utah State v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

We talked with Russ Wood of Boise State’s SB Nation blog One Bronco Nation Under God ahead of Thursday’s matchup between the Cougars and Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. Taysom, Tanner and Brett Rypien ranked. What can we expect from Jamaal Williams and Jeremy McNichols, respectively? Is this a rivalry or not!? Plus much more.

Check out our Q&A with OBNUG here.

VTF: Both Taysom Hill (Highland) and Tanner Mangum (Eagle) are Idaho quarterbacks who chose BYU, yet they each have very different strengths and weaknesses. Which one would you compare Brett Rypien to? Is he more Hill or Mangum? If we ranked all three QBs, what order would you put them in?

Russ Wood: We Idahoans can forgive both Hill and Mangum for going south, but only because we have a quarterback who has filled in nicely and brought us back to believing in our offense. Kinda like how Stanford can forgive Hill for going to BYU since they’re doing so well this seaso… oh, wait. (*Checks Stanford’s record) Disregard.

I would have to compare Rypien more to Mangum, since he has the ability to stand in the pocket and deliver deep balls downfield. Rypien’s about as mobile as a mafia victim, right after getting the cement shoes put on, but he can read defenses well, and the coaches draw up plays that cater to his strengths as a pocket passer. You won’t see many read-options drawn up for him, like you might for Hill.

If I were to rank them, I would have to give the slight edge to Hill at #1, just because he has experience and smarts (which would naturally come as a result of being a 34-year-old, 8-year starter with grandkids). This has nothing to do with him being a former student of mine at Highland (Hi, Taysom!!). Next, I would put Rypien, just because the numbers justify it, and being named Mountain West first team QB and Freshman-of-the-Year last season. Which just leaves Mangum at #3, but not because he isn’t good, just because he was once a BSU fan, and I have photo evidence:

“Not Mr. Potato Head” (Russ’s caption, not ours — we know where your loyalties lie Tanner)

VTF: Jeremy McNichols is an absolute beast, posting a school record 40 carries and a personal record of 217 rushing yards. BYU’s line will probably (hopefully) be better than some of the teams that BSU has faced. Do you anticipate that our line could cause any problems for McNichols? How many carries and yards do you expect from him?

Russ: This season, BYU has allowed 131 rushing yards per game, while BSU has allowed 142. But let’s take into account that one of those BSU games was against New Mexico, which runs Satan’s offense. So if we consider that game an outlier and divide the difference among the remaining games, that leaves us with math, and I’m too tired to do math tonight. Let’s just say I don’t expect McNichols to get 200 rushing yards against your defense and call that good. Maybe 198.

VTF: Sticking with record-setting RBs, BYU’s Jamaal Williams just became the school’s all-time leading rusher. How will BSU try to limit his effectiveness?

Russ: Boise State’s defense has been scheming a run-stopping offense first, and making opposing teams try to beat them throwing. But again, this varies for each game. We saw them run completely different schemes against the Air-Raid attack of Washington State, and then gap-discipline defense against Lucifer’s Cross Country Team. They did end up giving up yards to both, but ultimately, their discipline stopped the scores, which are the numbers that truly count. BYU is such a hard offense to plan for, but I would think they would focus on stopping your beast first, and putting the game in Taysom “Old Man Peanut Brittle” Hill’s hands. (Just kidding, Taysom!! Remember me?!)

In a nutshell, I’m excited to see how Williams fares against our deep corps of linebackers. Should be awesome to watch.

VTF: Both teams have shown they’re capable of shootouts. Both have been involved in some slower games. How do you envision this one going? Are we looking at 55-53?7-6? 9 OTs? A blowout?

Russ: This is so hard to guess. I remember a few years ago when the only TD scored was by a hungry fat man.

Then there was last year’s shootout which looked like a lock for BSU until the last, say…3 seconds. I had to sit in the back at church that Sunday.

A week ago, I would have put this game in the blowout category for BSU, but I watched the BYU/Mississippi State game and the BSU/Colorado State game this weekend, and my confidence might be a little shaken. BYU looks good, and we found out our special teams aren’t so special right now. (Seriously, two missed onside kick recoveries?) I think points will be in the mid 20’s, and I’d give the slight edge to BSU, because homerism. Prediction: BSU 28, BYU 24 (Shudder).

VTF: We’ve heard awesome things about the Boise State gameday atmosphere, etc. Would you recommend tailgating? Any other recommendations for visiting Cougar fans?

Russ: Boise Natives might not agree with me on this one, but I can tell you what I like in Boise. Food: Try the Big Jud’s 1-pound burger challenge, or the La Bomba sushi challenge at Superb Sushi. Drinks: They give free refills at McDonalds? (You may have to ask someone besides me, but I’m guessing most BYU fans won’t.) If you come a little early, be sure to check out the trophy room, or go to the MK Nature Center and take the kids on an awesome nature walk for free. (It’s near downtown and has tons of fish and wildlife in neat displays!) Ultimately, Boise has been named by USA Today as one of the best college football towns in America, and you have to be there to see it if you haven’t already.

VTF: Does BSU consider this series with BYU a rivalry? Or does the competition have more to do with the fact that defeating the Cougars may be the toughest obstacle for the Broncos to overcome on the way to a New Years’ Six bowl?

Russ: Yes, and yes. On a consistent basis, this game is always on the calendar as one that makes us nervous, and could go either way. That, of itself, is a good basis for a rivalry game, and doesn’t factor in any punches to the “upper thigh area.” It’s always exciting playing BYU, and we look forward to continuing through 2023! That being said, if BYU ruins our chances of making it to a NY6 bowl this season, then the rivalry will be set in stone!