|BYU RB Squally Canada was a bright spot running the ball. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)|
The game between the BYU Cougars and the Fresno State Bulldogs is over. Time to answer our five pre-game questions.
1. Where is the BYU offense at?
There is no denying the Cougar offense has made progress. While the point total was low, BYU had 336 yards total offense and converted 50 percent of third downs (7-14) on a night the offensive rhythm was interrupted twice by quarterback injury. The total offense is 34 yards above BYU's season average and 22 yards above what the Fresno State defense allows. The third down efficiency is way above season averages for both BYU offense and Fresno State defense.
The game plan appeared to be aimed at ball control in an effort to limit Fresno State's chances to score; the same strategy UNLV used to beat the Bulldogs last week. Otherwise, the Cougars probably would have had more yards.
BYU still needs a lot of improvement at finishing drives with touchdowns and pass efficiency.
2. Will Cougar Nation still have bowl hopes after this weekend?
A bowl game is officially out of the question. The best record BYU can have this year is 5-8, and there is no scenario where BYU will get a bowl invite with that record.
3. Will BYU have a run game?
Squally Canada made sure the answer to this question was a resounding, "Yes." He led the way with 84 yards on just 12 carries. His hard running kept BYU in this game much longer than it would have been otherwise. Brayden El Bakri added 23 yards, and Tanner Mangum even had a positive 17 yards rushing.
4. Can the BYU defense limit the number of big plays?
The Cougar defense did a good job of limiting the big plays. Fresno State had just two plays over 15 yards (50 and 35 yard passes). The Bulldogs didn't have a single double-digit yard run. That was good enough to keep BYU in a position to win.
5. Are these teams mirror images of each other?
The similar numbers didn't translate into an "average" game. BYU, actually, over achieved on offense and defense, which would explain why the Cougars beat the Vegas spread. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough over achievement to get a win.
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