Ryan Amick | Two conversations have dominated the news cycle in Provo, Utah this fall; the upcoming presidential election, and more importantly, BYU’s historic start to their season. The Cougars, 5-0 for the first time since 2008, are playing some of their best football in over a decade. Currently ranked 12th in the AP polls, BYU faces (1-5) Texas State for the first time ever tomorrow, entering the game as overwhelming favorites.
Tomorrow night’s matchup is the first time BYU will open up LaVell Edwards Stadium to its fans, but with a COVID-19 restriction of only 6,000 seats. Having any number of fans in attendance is a welcoming sign during the unforeseen disaster that has been 2020. Nonetheless, the 6,000 in attendance might not be in store for much of a show. BYU enters the game as 28.5 point favorites, and are looking downright unstoppable at the moment.
The defense has more than held its own, hosting a top 10 pass rush unit that’s gotten to opposing quarterbacks 16 times (which is twice as many as Texas State’s 8 sacks). Nonetheless, the offense has established itself as not only the best unit in Utah, but one of the best offensive groups in CFB. Ranking 6th in both points per game (43.6) and yards per game (541), this offense is constantly finding ways to run up the score.
It surely helps when your offense is run by a legit Heisman candidate, and that’s exactly what junior quarterback Zach Wilson has been. So far this season, Wilson ranks first in completion percentage, second in passer rating, third in passing yards and seventh in touchdowns amongst FBS signal-callers. Not too shabby to say the least, especially when you compare his numbers to tomorrow’s opponent Brady McBride.
Astonishingly, both Wilson and McBride have the exact same number of passing attempts, 136. Comparatively though, Wilson has twice as many passing yards (1641-809) and touchdowns (12-6) than McBride, while also throwing half as many interceptions (1-2). It’s hard not to give McBride some slack in this comparison though. While Wilson has been excelling in his third season under this BYU offense, McBride has just four starts in his career, and is one of 23 new starters for this 2020 Bobcat team.
With most of the team lacking any type of experience, the Bobcats have struggled mightily all-season long. It doesn’t help that this inexperienced roster is in the midst of a five game road trip, and are losers of three straight.
Since joining the FBS in 2012, Texas State has never been ranked, and only finished above .500 once (in 2014). Considering it took BYU over 50 years before they were first ranked, Texas State might have a long way to go in that regard. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Bobcats first have to worry about trying to upset the Cougars tomorrow night.
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I think BYU will cruise to an easy victory playing in front of their home fans for the first time this year. That was to be expected, so for entertainment sake, let’s look instead at the more pressing issue here: will BYU cover -28.5?
To answer this question, let’s first look at BYU’s points averages this season. The Cougars rank top ten in points scored per game (43.6) and points allowed per game (14.0). This equates to an average margin of victory of 29.6 points. What this means is BYU usually beats teams by at least 29 points, and if that statement holds true Saturday, expect the Cougars to narrowly cover. If you need more convincing, consider the fact that BYU has only scored fewer than 42 points once this season. Meanwhile, Texas State has only scored more than 24 points once. All the signs are pointing towards another dominant BYU victory Saturday, as the Cougars are on pace to have one of the most dominant seasons in program history.
Image courtesy Daily Herald