GAME PREVIEW: (20) BYU vs. Utah State

GAME PREVIEW: (20) BYU vs. Utah State

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PROVO -- In 2008 a dominant BYU team went on the road to face a one-win Utah State team and while the Cougars left Logan with a 20 point win, no one felt they performed as well as they should have.

Wednesday night on the KSL Newsradio's "Bronco Mendenhall Show" the coach admitted his team did not "play a full football game" and had the "mental edge come off" in the 34-14 win.

The next week the Cougars struggled against a mediocre New Mexico team and then lost badly the following week to TCU.

Mendenhall and the 2009 Cougars (3-1) are hoping to avoid a similar fate.

They rebounded from a humiliating loss at home to Florida State and ran the Colorado State Rams out of Provo in a 42-23 win. They hope to build on that victory Friday night when a one-win Utah State team rolls in to Provo.

The Aggies (1-2) are a more settled team than in 2008 now that Head Coach Gary Andersen has taken over. Andersen says while his team has a ways to go to reach the level of BYU and Utah, his team is making steady progress; something he hopes, if not expects to see Friday night.

While Andersen and the Aggies are looking for improvement... and wins, BYU needs another dominating victory to get itself moving in the right direction in the polls.

KSL takes a look back and a look ahead as we prep for game day.

What did we learn about BYU versus Colorado State?

  • The Cougars are unbeatable when they force turnovers and turn them into points
  • Harvey Unga looks dominant after season highs against CSU (113 yards on 22 carries)
  • Kickoffs are less of a question mark since Riley Stephenson took over
  • BYU excels when it is able to manage the game; getting an early lead and maintaining it

What questions do we have about BYU?

  • Despite putting up impressive numbers is the Cougar offense in sync?
  • Can the defense return to pre-Florida State form?
  • Can the Cougars avoid the turnover bug that has plagued them in 2009 (12 turnovers in 4 games)?
  • Can the Cougars get more from their return game?
  • Can they play a full focused 60 minutes against the Aggies?

What can BYU expect from Utah State?

  • A better Aggies team than the Cougars played in 2008 led by first year coach Gary Andersen
  • A high-scoring offense led by QB Diondre Borel and RB Robert Turbin (avg. 33 points a game)
  • Turnovers. The Aggies have fumbled the ball 13 times in three games, losing five of them
  • A defense that gives up a lot of yards, points and big plays (opponents avg. 36 points a game)

What can we expect from BYU versus Utah State?

  • Another concerted focus on execution and consistency
  • For the Cougars to get off to a quick start and to put up a lot of points (BYU led last year 24-0 after one quarter)
  • A steady ground game with Harvey Unga, Brian Kariya, Manase Tonga and JJ DiLuigi sharing the carries
  • Max Hall to be more efficient than he was against the Rams (18-29, 241 yards, 2 Ints, 2 TDs)


  • Since a win in Provo in 1974, the Aggies are 3-26 against the Cougars; 1-15 at BYU, with 14 consecutive losses at Lavell Edwards Stadium. The average score of those 14 games: 40-16 in favor of BYU.
  • BYU has never lost to Utah State on a Friday night, going 12-0.
  • The Aggies have faced BYU 11 times when the Cougars have been ranked in the AP Top 20/25. USU is 0-11 in those games, and 1-49 all-time against teams ranked in the AP poll (0-39 on the road).
  • The Utah State Aggies rank 9th in total offense and 117th in total defense heading into Friday night's game in Provo.
  • the Aggies are tied for the national lead with 100% red zone efficiency, but have only been in the red zone seven times. Only two teams have fewer red zone possessions than Utah State
  • The Aggies have eight touchdowns on plays of 20 yards or longer
  • BYU is 4th nationally in third down conversion percentage (58%); Utah State is 115th (22%).
  • One of Mendenhall's weekly goals is for the offense to score 24 points or more, and for the defense to allow 24 or fewer.
    • Since Mendenhall became head coach in 2005, BYU is 35-3 when allowing 24 points or fewer
    • The Cougars have won 29 consecutive games when allowing 24 points or fewer
    • They are 36-6 when scoring 24 points or more

BYU won last year's meeting on cruise control; Bronco would prefer to keep the ‘pedal to the metal' this time around. The Cougars have 14 straight wins over the Aggies in Provo averaging 40 points in those 14 wins. The Cougars will undoubtedly put up points, but will the improved Aggies be able to answer from start to finish to make this one-sided rivalry a shootout?

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