Lets go for a time warp. All the way back to 2015.
The Cougars entered the season with what was thought to be the “toughest schedule in program history.” Taysom Hill, following a season ending injury, was named the starting quarterback with Tanner Mangum slotted as the back up. The Cougars opened up the season away from LaVell Edwards Stadium where they won on a last second play by a freshman. The 2nd week saw a brutal and emotional matchup against a local rival team. The third week a game against UCLA — with the Cougars coming up short. It was an emotional and physical stretch for the three opening games. All of the games were very close.
Going into the 4th game, the Cougars who had only played once in Provo, went out on the road for the third time halfway across the country to play a Michigan team that had the look of a team on the rise. BYU lost in Ann Arbor, 31-0. On that day, the Cougars looked sluggish, slow, and tired.
There are clear similarities between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. This season, as the Y heads into week 4 they travel all the way to the east coast to play a West Virginia team that has the look of a team on the rise.
After playing three close, physical and emotional games, how will BYU look on Saturday?
In 2013, Bruce Feldman, a writer for Fox Sports, coined the phrase of “Body Blow Theory.” He initially came up with the theory when he recognized that teams would lose the week after they played against Stanford. Basically, Stanford would play such a physically taxing game that the resulting wear and tear on their opponents led to them collectively going 3-6 the week after playing the Cardinal in 2013.
Could BYU be heading into another week 4, post-UCLA, Michigan-style body blow game this weekend?
At the very least, West Virginia will be the fresher team on FedEx Field. The Mountaineers played their first week against Missouri in Morgantown. WVU won 26-11. In week 2, Dana Holgorsen’s men cakewalked their way past the mighty Penguins of Youngstown State at home, 38-21. In week 3, West Virginia enjoyed a bye week to rest up for their 200 mile road trip to Washington DC to play BYU in week 4.
The overall condition of the Cougars may be one of the biggest factors against the Mountaineers. But, fans won’t be able to see how much attrition will play against the Cougars until midway into the 1st quarter.