BYU improved to 7-0 on the season with a 41-10 victory over Western Kentucky at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. Combined with several upsets this past weekend, the Cougars found themselves jumping up to No. 9 in both the AP and Coaches poll. It’s just the fourth time in school history that BYU has started the season at 7-0.
Friday’s Top 25 showdown against No. 21 Boise State (2-0) has a lot on the line for the Cougars. Not only does the game bring plenty of national attention, but it’s also BYU’s first game against a ranked opponent this year.
The Cougars not only have a chance to get their first win on the blue turf, but it also provides a platform for the team to silence the critics who have nitpicked at the soft schedule so far. The game also carries College Football Playoff as well as New Year’s Six Bowl implications for both teams.
BYU heads into Boise as the highest-ranked opponent to ever play on the blue turf. The last time the Broncos played a Top 10 team was back in 2010, when the Broncos took down No. 4 TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. With a Top 10 ranking, many college football analysts across the country have been talking about BYU’s chances of making the College Football Playoff, Heisman talk continues for Zach Wilson as pundits across the country now see him being a Heisman Trophy finalist this season. It also helps that BYU has outscored its opponents by 222 points this year with the average score being 44 to 13.
Here’s a breakdown of what the national media is saying about BYU’s 7-0 start.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit has been an early believer in BYU after calling the Cougars’ season-opening game against Navy on Labor Day. The Cougars won 55-3 and Herbstreit has been impressed with the team ever since.
On Sunday, Herbstreit released his week 9 rankings with BYU checking in at No. 6. It’s the second time in three weeks that Herbstreit has the Cougars ranked in his Top 6. During a show last week on ESPN, Herbstreit said he believes BYU should have its hat in the ring and into the discussion.
“You know they’ve won by an average of 45 to 14. What I loved in doing a lot of research for our game against Navy, they had so many injuries last year. All those guys are healthy and back, and the guys that had to replace them are also back. So it’s a veteran team —a physical team on both sides— a lot better skill than you might realize at running back and receiver. You need a difference-maker at quarterback; this guy [Zach Wilson] is playing as well as anybody in the country. I like them. I like them a lot. I just wish they had more opportunities with their original schedule. But this team is legit.”
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) November 1, 2020
ESPN’s Chris Low has BYU ranked No. 7 in his latest Power Rankings. Here’s what he had to say:
“Another one-sided win for BYU sends the Cougars into their most important game of the season — Friday night at Boise State — with a chance to solidify their case to land in a New Year’s Six bowl. Quarterback Zach Wilson was solid, if unspectacular, against Western Kentucky, and a standout performance against the Broncos on the blue turf could boost his case at getting named a Heisman Trophy finalist.”
Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt released his Top 10 ranking with BYU checking in at No. 7. This is up two spots from his ranking last week and is up two spots from BYU’s No. 9 ranking in both the AP and Coaches poll.
What do you think of his Top 10 this week? pic.twitter.com/LrKboLUbSq
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 1, 2020
After having BYU at No. 10 last week, CBS Sports has the Cougars ranked No. 8 this week. In his weekly re-ranking article, USA TODAY sports reporter Paul Myerberg moved the Cougars up three spots to No 12. Lastly, Jeff Sagarin, an American sports statistician currently has BYU No. 6 in his rankings. Even better news for the Cougars is that Boise State jumped up to No. 9. If BYU can finally win on the blue turf, the Cougars will have a Top 10 road win to put on its resume. With the wacky schedules among conferences on top of fewer games, the Cougars will will have another big road win to put on its resume, something that most teams won’t be able to say.
— Fan Insider (@FanInsider_) November 2, 2020
Matt Leinart, a three-time All-American and Heisman Trophy winner who led USC to a pair of national championships (2003, 2004), had some high praise for BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
Leinart, a studio host on FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff pregame show, along with his teammate Reggie Bush and former Michigan star Charles Woodson, each made player recommendations on who they believe deserves a spot in “Club Heisman.”
Ascots are now part of the dress code at Club Heisman 👔@CharlesWoodson, @ReggieBush and @MattLeinartQB welcome Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, Clemson's Travis Etienne and BYU's Zach Wilson behind the velvet ropes.pic.twitter.com/KZdHEHtnSZ
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) October 31, 2020
Leinart made his invitation out to Wilson who just recently led BYU to its first 7-0 start since the 2001 season. It’s just he fourth time in program history the Cougars have started a season with seven consecutive wins. The Cougars are also both ranked in the Top 10 in both the AP and Coaches poll.
Here’s what Leinart had to say about Wilson:
“I gotta stick with my QBs. This ain’t the chess club, this is not the book club, this isn’t checkers, this is Club Heisman; and my man Zach Wilson from BYU, welcome to the club. … How about this, Zach Wilson has more touchdowns than Trevor Lawrence. He’s got more passing yards than Mac Jones, and most importantly, BYU is undefeated and I think they’ve got a great shot to go undefeated. He’s also moving up draft boards. I love this kid, guys.”
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 2, 2020
There's a new leader in the Heisman Trophy race 👀
Who do you think will win the award?
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 3, 2020
QBs completing more than 50% of their passes of 20+ air yards (min. 10 attempts)
1. Zach Wilson 71.0%
2. Mac Jones 62.5%
3. Spencer Rattler 58.3%
4. Kyle Trask 57.9%
5. Shane Buechele 54.8%
6. Carson Strong 53.3%
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) November 1, 2020
One of the nation's smoothest quarterbacks is @BYUfootball's Zach Wilson. He's had some incredible throws in this unbeaten season for BYU, including this one on third down Saturday. As pretty as you'll see. Makes it look effortless. pic.twitter.com/bcyUuX3lAG
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) November 2, 2020
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 1, 2020
College Football Playoff Talk
With Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State looking like a lock for the College Football Playoff once again, fans and writers across the country seem to be tired of the favoritism shown to the brand-name programs who continue to get a seat at the College Football Playoff table.
While the new four-team playoff has been an improvement from the old BCS ways, no team from outside the “Power Conferences” has made the four-team playoff. With teams like UCF still getting shutout despite going undefeated and beating SEC teams in New Year’s Six Bowl games, fans and college football analysts are hopeful that a team from outside the “Power Conferences” can crash the party.
As of right now, BYU currently has a 14% chance of making the College Football Playoff according to ESPN.
Just days away from two top-10 showdowns, here's where the CFP stands according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor 👀
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 1, 2020
I mean if we're just going to toss out a sacrificial lamb for the 1 seed, like last year, make it BYU, who might have the third-best QB in the country, or Cincinnati, who might win a conference that's about as good as the Big 12 and non-Clemson ACC.
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) November 1, 2020
Damn, this dashes my hope of a BYU-Cincinnati Playoff play-in game. https://t.co/IWqm1zgsLN
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 2, 2020
The Playoff door just opened a bit more for an Undefeated Pac-12 Champion and/or BYU
— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) November 1, 2020
Right now, the list of teams I would pick to beat BYU head to head on a neutral field is:
And that might be it. Oklahoma, Florida, and Cincinnati would be in the "maybe" camp
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) November 1, 2020
Give Them A Shot
Fox Sports college football analyst Tim Brando had high praise for both BYU and Cincinnati. In his weekly segment, Brando goes on to say why BYU and Cincinnati should have a seat at the table if they go undefeated. Below is what he had to say:
“How about BYU. You talk about the ultimate fly that gets no respect. Zach Wilson is probably the best quarterback at BYU since Taysom Hill. Wilson has more upside throwing the ball than Taysom Hill who gets a few snaps when Drew Brees doesn’t for the New Orleans Saints. Wilson has been outstanding and BYU appears to be unstoppable. They [BYU] play Boise State in the Mountain West this week. And think about this. Mountain West teams have a seat at the table. A New Year’s Six bowl opportunity exists for teams like Boise and Cincinnati. BYU doesn’t fit any of the criteria. They left the Mountain West to become Independent, but unlike Notre Dame, got no seat at the table. They [BYU] are going to run the table and win every game they got left, as will Cincinnati, with no shot [at a national championship]. Absolutely no shot. College Football has got to address this problem. Yes, I believe some teams with one loss or multiple losses could still be a factor [College Football Playoff]. But those teams, BYU and Cincinnati, wake up every day knowing they have to win every game or else they will be completely discounted. Wake up. College football expand! These teams deserve a spot at the table.”
"This week, the brand names went one way great or one way not so great, and it had a dramatic impact on Week 9 of the college football season."@TimBrando recaps Michigan's loss to Michigan State, looks at the current state of the Big 12 and gives praise to BYU and Cincinnati ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/mcoiBAwP5w
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 2, 2020