BYU vs. Fresno State: 5 Questions

Can Squally Canada provide BYU a ground presence against Fresno State? (Isaac Hale, Daily Herald)

The BYU Cougars will face off with the Fresno State Bulldogs tonight. Here are five questions to keep in mind while cheering on the Cougars.

1. Where is the BYU offense at? 

Through the first seven games of the season, the BYU offense was almost literally the worst offense in the nation. BYU hadn't passed for over 200 yards in a game, or had over 400 yards total offense in a single game. The most points scored in a game was just 24.

Two weeks ago, the offense started coming to life. The Cougars had nearly 200 yards in the fourth quarter at East Carolina. That was followed up by nearly 600 yards against San Jose State. BYU also scored 41 points last week. East Carolina and San Jose State are two of the worst defenses in the nation.

The Fresno State defense is ranked 19th in the nation in scoring and 16th in yards allowed. What kind of showing will Tanner Mangum and Co. have against the Bulldogs?

2. Will Cougar Nation still have bowl hopes after this weekend? 

At 2-7, BYU must win every single game left on the schedule in order to qualify for a bowl. The ESPN football power index gives BYU just an 18.2% chance to beat Fresno State. Can the Cougars win to keep their bowl hopes alive?

3. Will BYU have a run game? 

Three out of BYU's top four running backs are not expected to play in Fresno. Two are out with injury, and one for disciplinary reasons. Squally Canada will carry the burden of giving BYU a ground game. It would help the Cougars immensely if they can get meaningful contributions from Riley Burt and Austin Kafentzis.

4. Can the BYU defense limit the number of big plays? 

Five Fresno State wide receivers have receptions of 45 yards or longer. This game could get out of hand quickly if the BYU defense isn't able to contain the Bulldog wide receivers. Pass defense has been a weakness for BYU this season. It doesn't help that BYU is without cornerback Troy Warner who was lost for the season with an injury sustained at East Carolina.

Interestingly, no Fresno State running back has a run longer than 30 yards this season.

5. Are these teams mirror images of each other? 

In yesterday's game preview, the numbers were strikingly similar in terms of BYU offense vs. Fresno State defense, and vice versa. The season output and averages by the BYU offense closely matched what the Fresno State defense has allowed this season. Amazingly enough, the same could be said about the BYU defense and Fresno State offense.

Does that mean this game will turn out to be a 28-17 win for the Bulldogs, with Fresno State holding a 100 yard advantage in total offense?

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