Playing at home for the third consecutive week, No. 15 BYU (3-0) looks to make another statement as the Cougars take on UTSA (3-1) Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
With last week’s win, the Cougars improved to 3-0 on the season and are off to their best start since 2014 (4-0). In fact, the Cougars have been the most dominant team in the country so far this season as the team has outscored its opponents 148-24. The Cougars have done so against decent competition with BYU’s strength of schedule currently sitting at 47.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 6, 2020
BYU and UTSA are meeting for the first time as the Cougars face their second consecutive team from Conference USA. BYU comes into Saturday’s contest ranked No. 15 in both the AP and Coaches Polls. It’s BYU’s highest ranking since the 2009 season when the Cougars climbed as high as No. 7 (AP poll) before finishing the season ranked No. 12.
UTSA comes in after dropping its first game of the season. Despite running back Sincere McCormick rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown, and a defense which forced four turnovers, the Roadrunners still fell 21-13 at UAB (3-1).
BYU comes in highly favored as the betting line opened with the Cougars as a 30-point favorite over UTSA. It quickly jumped to -35 and has stayed between -34 and -35 since. The over/under for the game opened at 67.5 and continues to fall. The over/under currently sits at 63.
Date: Saturday, October 10
Time: 1:30 p.m MDT
Announcers: Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Taylor McGregor
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,725) — Provo, Utah
– UTSA is 7-3 against the spread in its last 10 games.
– The total has hit the over in seven of UTSA’s last 10 games.
– BYU is 8-2 straight up in its last 10 games.
– BYU is 5-1 straight up in its last six home games.
Zach Wilson had nearly a perfect game. The junior threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns — along with three rushing touchdowns to lead the Cougars to a dominating 45-14 victory over Louisiana Tech (2-1).
It was the second consecutive game that Wilson has thrown for more than 300 yards after going off for 392 yards last week in the win over Troy. It also marked the first time since 2015 (Tanner Mangum) that a quarterback had consecutive 300+ yard games. Wilson also made history by becoming the first BYU quarterback to record three straight games in a single season with a pass efficiency rating of 200+.
The dual-threat quarterback has garnered national attention for his performance so far this season as the Cougars lead the nation in total offense. Several national outlets have Wilson in the running for the Heisman Trophy now with others saying he’s on track to be a first-round draft pick.
The 2020 Heisman Trophy race? pic.twitter.com/lQt0hAbgr4
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 6, 2020
With a veteran offensive line combined with running backs Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa averaging nearly seven yards per carry, Wilson has the time in the pocket to pick defenses apart. From deep throws down the sideline to fades and back-shoulder throws, Wilson put on an absolute clinic last week and looks to keep it going.
Switching over to the defense, the Cougars also lead the nation in total defense, holding opponents to just 214.3 yards of total offense per game. With stars Troy Warner, Max Tooley, Payton Wilgar, Isaiah Kaufusi and Khyiris Tonga continuing to make big plays, Cougar fans were even more excited about the future after seeing freshman Tyler Batty recorded three sacks last week. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound freshman leads the team with four sacks and looks to be the Cougars’ next big playmaker on defense.
“I think we really need to just stay humble as we keep finding that success. The mindset has to be let’s get better this week and find the things that we struggled with the last game,” said BYU linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi. “The target on our backs is definitely going to get bigger, but we can’t really focus on those things and what people are saying.”
After using multiple quarterbacks in the UAB game last week due to injuries, UTSA hopes to have junior quarterback Frank Harris back under center on Saturday. Harris left in the first half of the Roadrunners’ win over Middle Tennessee on Sept. 25 with an injury. Reports have Harris as a game-time decision for Saturday’s game.
The dual-threat quarterback leads the team in passing yards (508), completes 66% of his passes and is also second in rushing yards (162). Whether Harris plays or not, the Cougars will be preparing for any of the three quarterbacks they could face.
“They all have their own unique skill set, but I think as an offense, they want to establish the run game,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “They have a really good, big O-line, [and] big tight ends that can block. Really, for us, I think trying to get them to not be as balanced as they are will be the challenge. Try to minimize the run game and try to establish our presence up front is going to be the key.”
Of BYU’s opponents so far this year, UTSA is the most balanced. The Roadrunners have racked up 837 rushing yards and 831 passing yards.
With BYU currently a 35 point favorite, UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor knows his team is a big underdog.
“We are going to look at this as an opportunity,” he said. “We are going to go up there and find a way to scrap and see if we can hang in there with them and pull off a shocker.”
Prediction BYU 47, UTSA 13
There’s no question that BYU should dominate on Saturday and should put up a lot of points too. A great sign for Cougar fans is that this team has shown that it is different than teams of previous years which played down to competition and lost several games they had no business losing.
The fact that the team is dominating in every facet of the game shows the Cougars have finally turned the corner and should continue putting up big numbers on both sides of the ball. Cougar fans can expect another blowout victory with BYU leading from start to finish and cruising its way to victory.
If Harris ends up playing, UTSA could put up 17 points or so, the highest the Cougars will have allowed so far this season. However, if Harris can’t go, the Cougars should be able to hold the Roadrunners to 10 points or less. Based on current betting lines and with BYU showing sportsmanship and taking a knee at the end of games near the goal lines, the point spread and over/under seem a bit high at the moment.
The only other question that remains is, can Wilson top last week’s performance? The nation will certainly be watching.
Number One — BYU is ranked No. 1 in total offense and No. 1 in total defense. The Cougars are averaging 585.7 yards per game on offense, and are allowing just 214.3 yards on defense. The Cougars rank in the top 10 in more than 30 offensive categories and more than 20 defensive categories.
Homecoming — Saturday’s game against UTSA will be BYU’s Homecoming game. Kalani Sitake is 3-1 in Homecoming games.
Honors — Following last week’s big win, Zach Wilson was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the CFPA Performer of the Week. He was also named to the Davey O’Brien Great 8 list for the second consecutive week and a Manning Award Star of the Week for the third week in a row. His completion percentage of 92.3 set the school record for a single game (minimum 20 attempts). He already owned the record for 15 attempts with his 18-for-18 game in 2018 against Western Michigan. On the year, Wilson has as many total touchdowns as he does incompletions (11).