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Provo-cation: Boise State vs BYU game preview

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NCAA Football: Brigham Young at South Florida Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, 8:15 PM (MT)
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
  • Weather at kickoff: 46°, cloudy
  • Odds: Boise State by 6.5
  • TV: ESPN 2
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Clay “Vicky” Matvick, Ryan “Turnt over a new” Leaf, and Taylor “Big Mac” McGregor

Other facts

1. Rare Air

If the Broncos are to win on Saturday and Michigan happens to lose to Penn State (highly likely), they’ll move into first place in the all-time win-percentage list. Right now, the Broncos are one-hundredth of a percentage point behind the Wolverines, but if the scenario I outlined plays out, they’ll move ahead by one-thousandth of a percentage point. We already have the winningest QB of all-time...might as well be the winningest program too, right?

2. Holani heroics

Bronco frosh phenom George Holani (henceforth known as “Baby Saquon” thanks to David Moa) is already having himself a pretty good season, as evidenced by Saturday’s 3 TD performance which he capped with a beast mode TD run. Did you know, though that Holani could actually be headed for a record-breaking season for a true freshman (QBs aside, obvs)? Since 2001, the most yards from scrimmage by a Bronco (true) freshman is 705 by Titus Young (2007). That same season, receiver Austin Pettis had 465...currently the #2 mark. Holani currently sits at 442 yards and is sure to pass that mark this weekend and should threaten Young’s mark if all goes according to plan. Keep grindin’, young fella.

3. Bugs biting Cougs

The Cougars already lost QB Zach Wilson for an undisclosed amount of time and also lost transfer Ty’son Williams for the season, but now backup QB Jaren Hall is anything but 100% and reports out of Cougarland are that O-linemen Tristen Hoge, Keanu Saleapaga, Kieffer Longson and Thomas Shoaf all didn’t practice this week. Hoge and Saleapaga are starters at right guard and right tackle and the other two are primary backups. Maybe the Broncos got off a little light with just a Bachmeier hip pointer...

4. Never forget

Don’t you ever, ever forget

Streaks

Boise State - Won 6

BYU - Lost 3

Stalks

Best name(s) on their roster

Some great Poly names on the roster as usual, but I’m going with freshman linebacker Ben Bywater as his name sounds like a really boring travelogue.

Best picture on their roster

I stand all amazed at Tristen Hoge’s Dudley Do-Right jawline.

Players to watch

Jaren Hall, QB

We simply don’t know (and won’t know) who’ll be under center for the Cougars on Saturday night...but we know it won’t be Zach Wilson. Wilson injured his hand in a loss to Toledo and Jaren Hall started against USF...but Baylor Romney had to finish the game after Hall was concussed. He’s been getting most of the snaps this week according to the Salt Lake media, but has not been medically cleared. If he’s not the guy...it’s gonna be this next dude. Hall completed 15 of 23 passes at USF for 148 yards and a TD, but where he excels (possibly moreso than Wilson) is his running ability. He had 83 yards rushing at USF—including a 29 yard TD scamper.

Baylor Romney, QB

Romney, yet another Cougar freshman, may indeed get the start on Saturday and if so, it’d be the first of his career. He was pressed into service at USF and did decent...completing 6 of 10 passes for 73 yards. Both are technically a step down from the one-time Bronco commit Wilson...but both have their upsides. I think the Cougar faithful would rather have Hall in the backfield, FWIW.

Aleva Hifo, WR

BYU usually has success hucking the ball up and hoping a lanky receiver comes down with it, but this year that philosophy has shifted a bit with 5’ 10” Aleva Hifo leading the squad in receiving. The senior wideout has 303 yards on 23 receptions (both lead the team), but has only found the endzone twice. Let’s try to make sure he doesn’t find it thrice.

Matt Bushman, TE

Only 6 yards behind team-leading Hifo...Bushman is more wideout than TE when it comes to receiving. He was a favorite target of Wilson and TBD QB will definitely find him if he has enough time. At 6’5” and 245 lbs., he can be a matchup problem for many a DB.

Kavika Fonua, LB

The junior linebacker leads the team in tackles with 51 and also has a pass-defense and INT under his belt. Overall, the Cougars have a pretty solid LB corps with Payton Wilgar and Isaiah Kaufusi also putting up respectable numbers (Wilgar has 2 picks this year).

Players NOT to watch

Zach Wilson and Ty’son Williams are out (Williams for the year, Wilson for a few more at least).

Keys to victory

  • Harass the QB. Whether it’s Hall or Romney (or Critchlow?)...there’s gonna be a newbie under center for the Cougs. Yeah, he’ll be at home, but we can make that home much less hospitable by getting Curtis Weaver in his face. BYU doesn’t have the burners to torch the secondary UNLESS they have enough time to let them work their way open. Take away that time and completions will be at a premium.
  • Hang on to the ball. BYU can drag the Broncos into a low-scoring affair (and one they can win) if they force turnovers and short fields. Ball security needs to be a major focus.
  • Establish the run. Boise State has done this with mixed results this year, but BYU hasn’t been especially good at stopping the run, so if the Broncos can keep moving the chains and the clock it will help the cause immensely.
  • Don’t lose. A good tactic any week. A GREAT tactic this week.

Score prediction

ON PAPER, this is a huge mismatch for BYU but the game is in Provo...against a team VERY hungry for a win against a rival. They’ve already beaten an SEC and Pac-12 team. Broncos win, IMO...but be wary!

Boise State 27, BYU 13