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BYU vs. SJSU: A look at the numbers, and what’s actually at stake for both teams

Ever heard of The Loser’s Belt? Yeah. BYU Football’s season CAN get worse.

San Jose State v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

BYU vs. San Jose State. It might not seem like it, but a lot is on the line.

Per a very scientific poll of 10 people on Twitter, I was told to ignore the fact that BYU’s offense was stonewalled by the worst defense in NCAA football. It’s okay -- I get it. I wish I could forget it, too. Just remember that a defense that allowed an average of 50 points and 600 yards per game held the Cougars to 17 points and 421 total yards. By the way, after limiting BYU’s offense, East Carolina still has the worst scoring offense in the FBS. The only nice thing about the game was that BYU was penalized 69 yards. On to the Spartans.

BYU’s relative offensive explosion last week bumped them from the second, to the third worst scoring offense at 12.1 points per game. You may be asking yourself, “How on earth are they two touchdown favorites over SJSU?”

The Spartans are only four spots ahead of BYU in scoring (16.4 points per game). They are also 123rd in red zone success, only scoring on 13/19 trips to the red zone. They’ve scored 53.4 percent of possible points in the red zone.

BYU has had slightly more success, but fewer trips deep into enemy territory, scoring on 12 out of 16 of them, and scoring a total of 53.6 percent of possible points. By the way, Rice, Georgia Southern, and Kent State all have less success than BYU in getting to the red zone and are worse at scoring once there. So BYU isn’t last in at least those offensive categories (but still in the bottom 5).

Looking at SJSU’s defense, Cougar fans should be cautiously optimistic. Extremely cautious because the Spartans’ defense is statistically better than ECU’s, but only marginally. The Spartans allow more than 40 points and almost 500 yards per game. Therefore, expect BYU to get around 350 yards and 10 points (14, if the defense gives the offense a short field).

Looking at some head-to-head comparisons, San Jose State has had a year somewhat similar to BYU’s. Both teams are 1-7 entering this contest. SJSU’s backup quarterback Josh Love has season statistics almost identical to Tanner Mangum’s. That’s right, the Spartans have even had similar injury issues. SJSU leads the NCAA in giveaways (26), BYU is fourth (17). But the highlight of this week’s matchup is a fictional title nobody wants to hold: The Loser’s Belt.

The Loser’s Belt was researched by Reddit users /u/funtubs and /u/rm_a and basically it works like a WWE Championship belt, but passes instead to the loser. San Jose State “won” the belt from Texas earlier this year (Texas got it when they lost to Kansas -- at least BYU hasn’t done that yet. [Side note: I’m very glad we don’t play Kansas this season]). If BYU loses Saturday, the Cougars will hold the belt until they win another FBS game. And it has been 308 days since that last happened.