COMMENTARY — A bad win is still a win these days in college football.
Yes, BYU is now sitting at 7-2 after narrowly beating San Jose State 17-16, but that game is what I would call an UGLY game. In all reality, I just kept waiting for BYU to turn it on against the Spartans and they never did. In fact, at certain points in the game, it seemed they almost tried to turn it off intentionally.
Last week’s contest easily could have gone either direction at the end and that alone should not sit well with a program that wants to be viewed as great. With all the injuries, suspensions, bad play-calling, among other issues, BYU should just feel fortunate to come away with the winning streak intact. The Cougars have plenty to work on with this week’s game preparation and last week’s bad film breakdown. Let’s move on and hope they get better — frankly, last Saturday isn’t worth any further recap with the Cougars playing bad across the board and shooting themselves in the foot.
Now, with an opportunity to play an SEC squad at Arrowhead Stadium, the Cougars must take full advantage of this game against Missouri and win to progress as a program. Still not in the Top 25, the Cougars should be completely focused on the opportunity at hand to show that they can compete against a team they were lucky to schedule this deep in the year.
BYU is actually favored to beat Missouri, which I find as a shock after last week’s near disaster against lowly San Jose state. This matchup is what Cougar football fans have dreamed of, but it’s probably not in the best light seeing’s how this season has had so many ups and downs along the way.
To finally break past the third straight 8-win season, and do so in style against the remaining schedule would be so sweet. It’s been four years since BYU had its last 10-win season and clear back to 2009 since the Cougars won 11 games in a single season.
BYU was predicted by most to be lucky to escape the first 4 games of the year with maybe one win. The Cougars are well ahead of the game with the opportunity to get their eighth win of the 2015 season against a solid SEC program.
There are no major bowl game implications for either team this week, but this is a first time matchup between these two programs. These two won’t play again until 2020, so the loser will feel the sting of a loss for a few years and it could make for some hard decisions to be made on the losing end here.
Although the Tigers are sitting at 4-5 on the season, this is a must win for them as well after losing several really close games to great opponents like Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt. To even become bowl eligible, Missouri will need a win over BYU because they have powerhouse programs Tennessee and Arkansas still awaiting them in November.
Just how good is Missouri this year? After watching them last Thursday against Mississippi State, I saw some things that BYU will have to be prepared for. The Tigers are very physical, something BYU hasn’t had to deal with since the Michigan game. We all know how that game turned out, so the Cougars will have to be prepared for a team that tries to impose its physical dominance first.
Even though Missouri’s offense has struggled this season, the Tigers defense really makes up for some of what they lack on the other side of the ball. They have the capability to stop the run up front with a solid front seven and a secondary that will be able to stick with BYU’s extremely tall receivers. BYU will not be able to come out and shock Missouri this weekend, but does have an advantage if both BYU’s offensive and defensive line shows up with the mentality that they will dominate the line of scrimmage.
The game plan will be huge this week as Bronco Mendenhall puts a plan together that must take away the Tigers ability for big plays while making them earn every yard. Aggressive play calling, mixing it up on defense and aggressively blitzing, BYU can give Missouri’s offense a fits.
The Cougars need a “must win” type of attitude by all players to keep momentum against a team that plays big programs week in and week out. I believe BYU has the capability to beat Missouri, but the Cougs must put a complete game together here and bring the underdog attitude with them.
If Cougars can pull off this victory at Arrowhead Stadium Saturday (5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network), it will propel them into the Fresno State and Utah State games with a full confidence and the ability to win out the remaining 2015 schedule.
Bronco has the chance to win four more games this season (with a bowl win), which would put the Cougars at 11-2 and that would truly be something special to build on moving forward.
Mendenhall and his staff would surely be able to use a win over an SEC team to his recruiting advantage moving forward and it will open opportunities for other programs to schedule this independent BYU football team in the future.
The Cougars could be in the process of building something special while taking the program to the next level. After reviewing next year’s newly released schedule (which will be arguably the toughest schedule BYU football has ever played), the need for wins like a potential win over the Tigers is critical.
If the future for BYU football is big-time football with big-time wins over big-time opponents, a victory Saturday — and the rest of the season — is a must. It’s time to step up.
BYU basketball: The Cougars officially begins their 2015-16 college basketball season Friday at home against Utah Valley University at 7 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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