COMMENTARY — Bye weeks: fans hate them, players love them.
Bye weeks can have many effects on a football team. For the BYU Cougars, taking last weekend off was good, considering they had gone hard for eight straight weeks. It was a chance to rest some weary bodies, heal up a little from nicks and bruises and maybe even reconnect with family and friends. There’s not much time for anything but football and school work during the season.
But that rest comes with a caveat. First of all, BYU has been on a roll. Winners of four straight, the Cougars had some momentum going. Much of that is lost in a bye week.
Shaking off a little rust can be an issue as well. The Cougars play San Jose State Friday night (9:30 p.m. kickoff). The 70-6 Wagner blowout was BYU’s last competition and the starters didn’t play much past halftime in that one, so we are left to wonder if the Cougars will be trying to clear some cobwebs in Friday night’s game.
Look at it this way: BYU played Cincinnati Oct. 16, with the only game action since then that Oct. 24 glorified scrimmage against a bad Wagner team. That means that by the time the game kicks off Friday night, the BYU starters will have not played any significant minutes for 21 days. That’s a long time in football.
So it’s up to Bronco Mendenhall and his staff to have his players back into full stride for the remaining schedule. Remember, the Missouri Tigers from the SEC sit in wait for a Nov. 14 home game against the Cougars.
First up though, Bronco’s team must take on the challenge of another California team that actually leads the all-time series between the two programs 10-6. I don’t believe that the Spartans will be a big challenge for BYU on either side of the ball, but with most college teams these days, you have to bring your “A” game to excel.
The Spartans are in the Mountain West Conference and have been holding their own against some good competition this season. San Jose lost to both Auburn and Oregon State by two touchdowns. The Spartans are currently 3-2 in conference and in second place in the MWC West division.
Last time BYU played the Spartans was in 2012 on the road, where the Cougars lost 20-14. I’m sure that loss is a factor in the team’s preparation this week. The Cougars cannot look past anyone this season and need to get back on track with a solid win this week.
The Cougars are a 12.5 favorite this week as they set themselves up for a chance to potentially win out with their remaining four regular season games in 2015. They have a decent chance to climb back into the Top 25 national polls with a convincing win against the Spartans.
In fact, with wins over Missouri, Fresno State and Utah State to close out the year, BYU could get close to the top 10. Utah State is currently 5-3 with some easy games yet to be played, so the season is setting up for a really exciting in state rivalry game up in Logan on Nov. 28.
I guess you could say that BYU has the opportunity for payback on the horizon!
One note on basketball: BYU officially begins its 2015-16 college basketball season Saturday at home against Alaska-Anchorage at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Center.
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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