What: Wyoming Cowboys @ BYU Cougars
When: Saturday, September 24, 8:15 a.m. MT
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah
Line: Yes +21.5; O/U 50
Story: Former rivals BYU and Wyoming will meet for the 79th time this Saturday night and the first time since the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl, where BYU beat the Cowboys 24-21. Aside from Utah and Utah State, BYU has faced the Cowboys more than any other opponent, with their series history dating back to 1922. The Cougars currently hold the series advantage against the Pokes with a 45-30-3 record, which includes a 26-13-1 showing in Provo. The last time the Pokes faced the Cougars in Provo was in 2010, the last time the Cougars were at MWC, where they beat the Cowboys 25-20. BYU has won its last eight games against the Cowboys and 11 of the last 12 meetings since 2010.
What to expect from BYU:
BYU is ranked in the AP Top 25 at numbers 19 and 23 in the coaches poll. They are led by coach Kalani Sitake in his 7th season as the program’s head coach and are 20-6 under Sitake when playing as a ranked team. The Cougars hold victories over South Florida and Baylor with their lone loss at the hands of the Oregon Ducks last week. BYU has a more balanced offense than the Air Force but still considers themselves a run-identified team. Quarterback Jaren Hall has managed to balance his offensive attack and has been more than impressive this season for the Cougars. In three games, Hall threw for 827 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception, with a completion percentage of 69%. On the field, the Cougs look to Christopher Brooks as their primary point guard, with Lopini Katoa also sharing some of the load. Hall has also worked with his legs this season with 62 yards on 23 carries. If there’s one thing that’s certain about this BYU team, it’s that their offense is downright dangerous. The Cougs racked up 573 total offensive yards in Week 1, 366 against highly touted defense Baylor in Week 2, and 366 additional yards against Oregon in Week 3. That equates at about 435 yards per game so far. If the Cowboys want to keep this game close, they’ll have to look to contain BYU better than the teams did in the first three weeks of the season.
What to expect from Wyoming:
Wyoming comes in strong after its upset victory over the Air Force. They also come back as heavy underdogs despite winning their last three games, but so far that’s how they like it. There are a number of things that impress with this team so far this season. On the one hand, they showed determination and leadership despite the youth of the roster. Two, they earned their wins and didn’t shy away from their opponents despite their lack of experience and handling of adverse conditions. Three… they have that ‘dawg’ in them. Wyoming has a fairly similar offense to BYU. Although not quite up to par yet, Wyoming has shown that their offense can feel balanced at times comparable to the Cougars. Both Peasley and Hall are athletic, strong, can throw and run. Peasley, in his last two games, has completed nearly 70% of his passes and thrown for over 300 yards at an effective clip. Meanwhile, Swen carried the majority of the charge on offense, going for 316 yards on 62 attempts and scoring 4 touchdowns. So there you have it – a team that’s been relatively balanced and built on the run. As for the defense, it’s been spectacular lately, holding the Air Force last week to well under three times its rushing average. Easton Gibbs and the Poke defense will have yet another tough task ahead of them to contain this highly volatile BYU offense. The defense will be looking to continue their recent play in hopes of shocking the world again.
This one is hard to predict given how well balanced a BYU team is and how well the Pokes have been playing lately. Historically, however, playing Provo has always caused problems for the Cowboys. I think the Cowboys will find a way to keep the game in their sights until at least the 4th quarter, but BYU’s relentless offense will be too much for the Cowboys in the end.