COMMENTARY — Last weekend was great if you are a BYU Cougar football fan, and maybe not so much for all Utah fans as the Utes were brought back to reality, getting manhandled by USC.
As Utah dropped big in the polls from No. 3 to No. 14, BYU is looking to continue climbing back in the polls as they are now sitting at 6-2, becoming bowl eligible for the 11th consecutive time during Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure as head coach.
What we know at this point is that, worst-case scenario, BYU will go to either the Las Vegas or Honolulu Bowl at the conclusion of the 2015 season and hopefully remain in the Top 25.
The Cougars finally have a nice home-game win streak going with their fifth straight win at LaVell Edwards Stadium after beating up Wagner 70-6 on Saturday.
It was a truly lopsided game, where many starters were pulled out and resting on the sidelines in the second quarter. But it was a great opportunity for all those backups and players deeper on the depth chart to get on the field and show what they’re made of. Not only was the win BYU’s biggest margin of victory in Mendenhall’s time as head coach, but it is getting BYU back into a better position nationally.
The Cougars now have the second most votes in the AP poll outside the Top 25. With BYU on a bye week, this should be an opportunity for the Cougars tpo edge back into that Top 25 as some ranked teams will surely lose this week.
With only a couple of teams with two losses in the Top 25 polls, including UCLA (who squeaked out a win at home versus BYU), I would look for BYU to jump back in within the next week or two.
BYU now has now hit its well-deserved bye week with an opportune time for the Cougars to regroup, get healthy and return ready for the home stretch.
Looking ahead, BYU really does have a shot to win out and position itself back into college football’s Top 25. After this week’s bye, the Cougars have a road game against San Jose State, which is 4-4 on the year. After that is another road trip to play an SEC team, the Missouri Tigers, who are also 4-4.
Senior night, BYU’s last home game, is against 2-6 Fresno State. The Cougars conclude the regular season with a trip up to Logan for a battle with the 4-3 Utah State Aggies.
Winning out would be huge for the Cougars, but I see a couple of games in the remaining schedule that are especially big. BYU will have to prove it can compete against the SEC and play Missouri tough — national respect is on the line.
And the Cougars have a score to settle with Utah State. Going into Logan and getting even with the Aggies is important after the loss at home last season to them. Beating the in-state schools can also help immensely in the Utah recruiting wars.
And speaking of in-state games, BYU just announced it will play Southern Utah University next season (Nov. 12, 2016).
“We needed a home game to finalize our 2016 schedule and SUU had an opening. It turned out to be a good fit for both schools,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “We look forward to hosting the Thunderbirds next year in Provo.”
While SUU is not an ideal opponent as far as national reputation is concerned, they have a much better program than Wagner and the Thunderbirds provide a little bit of intrigue and excitement as a school from the Beehive State. In other words, if BYU has to schedule an FCS (I-AA) school, at least make it someone we’ve heard of.
As for this season, if the Cougars can win out they will finish 10-2 and settle into the Top 25 nicely with a bowl game on the horizon. And no one can complain about that.
Blue Blood is a sports column written by Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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