COMMENTARY – BYU is coming off what may be considered one of the most dominating and meaningful wins in modern day school history, beating Michigan State on the road in East Lansing 31-14.
No, this is not the exact same Michigan State team from last year’s National Championship semifinals, but the fact that MSU is one of the most well-respected Big Ten teams out there makes the Cougars’ one-sided win over this powerhouse program all the more impressive.
Consider this: If BYU loses last week in Michigan, the hole the program would have had to climb out of this season may have been too deep. With the win, the Cougars now have something to build upon for the remainder of 2016.
Again, BYU’s offensive line enabled Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill to put up some major rushing yards – 260 on the day. On defense, BYU was the best they have looked all season, stuffing the Spartans run game (holding them to 85 rushing yards). The Cougars won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and this victory did not go unnoticed. Nationally. This was one of the most impressive and well-rounded BYU games I can remember. It seems like the play calling from Ty Detmer and Ilaisa Tuiaki is starting to take hold with the players and fans alike.
So, the Cougars are now 3-3 and are coming off the feel-good hit of the fall with the second-half blowout of Michigan State. A bowl game and a winning season seem like pretty good bets at this point.
Yes, fans are happier, players are feeling good and the sun is shining a little brighter in Provo this week. So what could possibly ruin that?
Well, quite frankly, a flop this week against Mississippi State (Friday night, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN).
BYU is set and primed for a great second half of the season with the softer end of the schedule still remaining. But there are two big hurdles the next two weeks, with the Bulldogs coming to town tomorrow night and a trip to No. 15-ranked Boise next Thursday night.
All those feel-good emotions will run away like a kindergartner from a clown if the Cougars lay an egg against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs, from the mighty SEC, are 2-3, on the year, having lost to Auburn (38-14) and LSU (23-20), plus a puzzling season-opening defeat at the hands of South Alabama (MSU led 20-7 going into the fourth quarter, then missed a field goal at the end to fall 21-20).
It helps that this one will be played at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but having already played at LSU’s Tiger Stadium (affectionately know by many as Death Valley), don’t expect the Bulldogs to be intimidated.
With a short week to prepare for the matchup, BYU will have to bring the same power tempo as last Saturday. The Cougars are seven-point favorites against Mississippi State.
The last time the Bulldogs and Cougars played was in Provo back in 2000, where Mississippi State beat BYU 44-28. BYU is 1-1 all time vs. the Bulldogs.
A cynic would say the Cougars are ripe for a letdown. An optimist would say BYU is hot and should roll this week. We’ll land somewhere in the middle, with the Cougars having an excellent chance to win in a closely contested ball game.
Don’t expect a ton of points tomorrow night. Look for a game like the BYU-Arizona or BYU-Utah affairs, with touchdowns hard to come by.
It feels so good after a win against a quality opponent. The Cougars feel it now. Can they feel it again?
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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