What: Wyoming Cowboys @ BYU Cougars
When: Saturday, September 24th, 8:15 MT
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
Line: Wyo +21.5; O/U 50
History: The old rivals, BYU and Wyoming, will meet for the 79th time this Saturday night and for the first time since the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl, where BYU beat the Cowboys by a score of 24-21. Aside from Utah and Utah State, BYU has faced off versus the Cowboys more than any other opponent, with their series history dating back all the way to 1922. The Cougars currently hold the series advantage against the Pokes with a record of 45-30-3, which includes a 26-13-1 showing in Provo. The last time the Pokes played the Cougars in Provo was in 2010, the last time the Cougars were in the 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 comes in ranked inside the AP Top 25 at number #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 squad. The Cougars hold wins over South Florida and Baylor with their one loss coming at the hands of the Oregon Ducks just last week. BYU has more of a balanced attack than Air Force but still views themselves as a team identified by the run. Quarterback Jaren Hall has been able to balance out their offensive attack and has been more than impressive this season for the Cougars. In three games, Hall has thrown for 827 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 1 interception, with a 69% completion percentage. On the ground, the Cougs look to Christopher Brooks as their main lead back, with Lopini Katoa also sharing part of the load. Hall has also done some work with his legs this season with 62 yards on 23 carries. If there’s one thing that’s for sure about this BYU squad, it’s that their offense is flat-out dangerous. The Cougs put up 573 yards of total offense in week 1, 366 against Baylor, a highly-touted defense, in week 2, and another 366 yards against Oregon in week 3. That rounds out to 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 teams have done in the first three weeks of the season.
What to expect from Wyoming:
Wyoming is coming in hot following their upset victory over Air Force. They are also coming in as heavy underdogs once again despite winning in their last three games, but so far, that’s just how they like it. There are a number of things to be impressed by with this team so far this season. For one, they’ve shown a sense of determination and leadership despite how young the roster is. Two, they’ve earned their victories and haven’t shied away from their opponents despite lacking experience and handling adverse conditions. Three…they got that ‘dawg’ in ‘em. Wyoming has a pretty similar offense compared to BYU. Though not quite to their level yet, Wyoming has shown that their offense can look balanced at times comparable to the Cougars. Peasley and Hall are both athletic, strong, can throw, and can run. Peasley, over his last two games, has completed close to 70% of his passes and has thrown for over 300 yards at an efficient clip. Meanwhile, Swen has been carrying the majority of the load on offense, running for 316 yards on 62 attempts and scoring 4 touchdowns. So there you have it - a team that has been relatively balanced and relied on the run. As for the defense, they’ve been spectacular as of late, holding Air Force last week to well under three times their average yards on the ground. Easton Gibbs and the Poke defense will have yet another tough task in front of them in containing this highly volatile BYU offense. The defense will look to continue their recent play in hopes of shocking the world once again.
This one is difficult to predict given how well-balanced a team BYU is and how well the Pokes have been playing lately. Historically, however, playing in Provo has always given the Cowboys trouble. I think the Cowboys will find a way to keep the game in their sights up until at least the 4th quarter, but BYU’s relentless attack will be too much for the Cowboys in the end.