Game Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. Utah State Aggies

The Brigham Young Cougars face the Utah State Aggies tonight in a game that has gone from a "sure win" for BYU to a no so certain "must win." Utah State may be considered one of the worst teams in America, but BYU cannot take this game lightly. That's not just because BYU is 1-3. First, this game is a rivalry game that has more meaning for the Aggies. Second, the game is in Logan. Utah State has only won twice since 1979, but each time it was in Logan. The last time this game was close was 2002, in Logan. Third, Utah State has shut down two good quarterbacks. Oklahoma's quarterback has a lot more experience than Jake Heaps, but he threw two interceptions, completed less than 50% of his passes, and could only manage a 105 pass efficiency rating. Fresno State's starting quarterback had a 125 pass efficiency rating (compare that to 208 and 185 in his other two games this year). These three ingredients could be the perfect recipe for a Utah State win.

BYU does have some positive signs. BYU has started the year 1-3 five times in the last 20 years (2005, 2004, 2000, 1992, 1991). All five times, BYU has won game five, including a 30-9 win over Utah State in 1992 and a 38-10 win over Utah State in 1991. Another positive is that BYU had 320 yards (229 passing) of total offense last week against Nevada. That came on the heels of 191 yards (115 passing) the week before at Florida State, and only 126 yards (44 passing) in the final 3 quarters of the Air Force game.

Things to watch for:

  1. Will October 1 be DiLuigi Day? January 1 is New Year's Day. April 1 is April Fool's Day. May 1 is May Day. A monster game from BYU's shifty back, and October 1 could be know in BYU history as J.J. Di Luigi Day. Luke Staley ran for 207 yards and scored 5 touchdowns to lead a BYU comeback against Utah State in 2001. Curtis Brown ran for 217 yards and 3 TDs to lead another comeback the next year. With the passing game not on track yet, a win might require 200 yards and 3 TDs from BYU's top offensive player this year.
  2. How will the injuries on defense impact that unit? Defensive tackle Romney Fuga is out for the year with a knee injury, and linebacker Jameson Frazier has been sidelined 3-4 weeks by a broken thumb. Fuga has made 15 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks this season. Frazier has 15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two quarterback hurries.
  3. The BYU Passing game. Will Jake Heaps pick apart the Utah State defense like Ryan Lindley or will he be flustered like Landy Jones and Ryan Colbrun? Will Cody Hoffman continue his emergence and become Heaps' #1 target? Will the tight end finally be part of the passing game?
All-time series: BYU leads 43-33-3
Last: BYU won 35-17 (2009)
Streak: BYU won 10

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