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Friday, November 5, 2010

Game Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. UNLV Rebels

The Brigham Young Cougars resume play this week against the UNLV Rebels. A BCS bowl has been out of the picture for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that style points don’t matter in this game. BYU needs to do more than just win on Saturday.

The Cougar offense has had its share of problems this year. They have never scored more than 24 points in a game. Against UNLV, bad teams are posting better numbers than that. The Idaho Vandals (4-4) scored 30 points, and the Colorado State Rams (3-6) scored 43. Colorado State’s freshman quarterback was 10 of 14 for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns. The BYU offense needs to eclipse 30 points and 400 total yards, preferably balanced 200 passing and 200 rushing.

The BYU defense has looked impressive in recent weeks holding TCU to three points for most of the first half. They forced Wyoming backwards for the entire first half (-18 yards total offense). UNLV hasn’t had much offensive firepower. They are 98th in the nation in passing yards per game, 103rd in rushing yards per game, and 111th in points scored per game. The BYU defense should dominate and flirt with a shutout.

The real signs of progress, especially coming off a bye, will be found not in winning this game, but in the style that it is won.

Things to watch for:

  1. Home Field Disadvantage? BYU has played UNLV much better in Vegas that in Provo over the last decade. The Rebels were 2-3 in Provo during the 2000s (as opposed to 0-5 in Vegas) and two of the three loses were by three points and seven points. Should we be satisfied with a 10 point win?
  2. Will another receiver step up? Although I wouldn’t exactly say Luke Ashworth stepped up last week (just 6 receptions for less than 50 yards), his touchdown catch was a breakthrough of sorts. Will Cody Hoffman or McKay Jacobson provide Jake Heaps a reliable, open target on a regular basis?
  3. How many rushing yards? BYU held TCU to 108 rushing yards, San Diego State to 53 rushing yards, and Wyoming to 63 rushing yards. BYU held UNLV to 45 yards last year. UNLV averages 106.5 yards. Will they even get half that on Saturday?
  4. Cody Hoffman on kick returns. Hoffman looked good in his first action as a kick returner. What will he do to follow up his MWC special team player of the week performance? Will he deliver on O’Neill Chambers’ promise and take one all the way back?
All-Time Series: BYU leads 14-3
Streak: BYU won last 5
Last: BYU won 59-21 in 2009

KICKOFF: 12:00 PM (MDT)
TV: The Mtn.
RADIO: 102.7 FM, 1160 AM, http://www.ksl.com/

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Thursday Trivia: Win-Loss Record in November
Fabulous? Freshman Contributions for the Brigham Young Cougars
Poll Results: Which game will be the hardest to win
Flashback: Steve Sarkisian Has Only 70 Yards Passing (1996)

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