COMMENTARY – A win is a win, but BYU’s 55-53 win over Toledo could be summed up by the Cougars escaping with a victory out of this high-powered offensive slugfest.
That Toledo team is even better than I anticipated, with a really great coaching staff and some extremely talented playmakers like QB Logan Woodside and running back Kareem Hunt.
BYU, having several of its key defensive players (including leading tackler Butch Pau’u) absent from the game proved to really hurt the C0ugars’ depth and run-stopping abilities, which kept the Cougars defense on the field way too long.
The drives by Toledo couldn’t be stopped, just like the Rockets could not stop Jamaal Williams on his record-setting rushing day (286 yards and five TDs). Williams and the BYU offensive line singlehandedly won the game last week.
The now 2-3 BYU football program got the win last Saturday that it so badly needed and just in time for probably the biggest test of the entire 2016 season.
The Cougars face Michigan State on the road this today on ABC (1:30 MST) and are four-point underdogs. The Spartan’s may not be the same team they were the last couple years when they sat atop the NCAA football Top 25, but they are really powerful and extremely talented from top to bottom.
The Spartans are currently sitting 2-2 after losing back to back games to both No. 11 Wisconsin and a really good Indiana team in overtime.
You could easily say this is a must-win game for both teams as they continue to try to dig out of the holes they find themselves in. The Spartans were ranked 17th in the nation until they lost last week on the road to Indiana.
This program is always solid and this year they have beaten Notre Dame on the road and Furman at home.
Think about this for one moment: BYU has lost three games by the combine’d total of seven points, and they have won 2 games by the combined total of 4 points. BYU has obviously played one of the toughest first half schedules in all of college football this year. The Cougars have not had a single “warm-up” game like so many programs face each season and for that reason alone I still see improvements in where things are at.
With one single field goal, one turnover or made two-point conversion, BYU could easily be plus or minus a couple wins or losses. BYU is the best program in the country that currently has a losing record. When you play the best programs and not only compete but win games, you move that much closer to being a team that is moving up in the eyes of college football.
A road win this week could ultimately be one of the biggest in program history and definitely help BYU’s case of legitimacy on the prime time national stage of ABC. Many big things like recruiting, potential conference inclusion, and trying to get back to a winning record for a bowl game all depend on Saturday.
The Cougars win and they will be the talk of ESPN. They lose and they will be just that program that almost beat some of college football’s best this season.
Both teams will be without a starting defensive player this week for the first half because of targeting penalties. The Spartans preseason All-American defensive tackle Malik McDowell will be sitting out for the first half as well as BYU linebacker Sae Tautu.
BYU will need everyone to play their best game and Taysom Hill to finally find consistency with the pass game to win Saturday. I am sure that Michigan State will try to stop the Cougar run game and make BYU beat them through the air and Hill has not proven this season that he can do that against the competition they have played.
If BYU can step up on defense and Hill can finally break out of his shell to help BYU’s solid running attack, we could see an upset. To beat Michigan State, it will take everything BYU has and then the ball bouncing the right direction to come away with a road victory this week.
Blue Blood is a sports column written by former BYU lineman and captain Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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