COMMENTARY – Can the 1-3 BYU Cougars start digging out of a deep early-season hole and possibly salvage what’s left of their much softer side of the 2017 schedule?
One thing is for sure when looking at that question: They have the opportunity this week to beat an in-state rival (Utah State, 2-2) this Friday and start their recovery from what has looked like the start to the worst season in over 12 years in Provo.
So many people, including myself, have not handled this year’s blowout losses all that well and it comes down to a couple key things: first, losing the seventh straight game to Utah, and second, not even competing against LSU or Wisconsin.
Sure, BYU has started out several past seasons with a losing record at some point, but the Cougars were always competitive and fought to the last whistle. That hasn’t been the case so far this year against the better competition they have faced.
This week again will not be an easy feat for BYU, because Utah State (up in Logan, especially) always plays BYU extremely tough, regardless of records and the year. Following the bye week and the time BYU has had to prepare, a win this week and the Cougars could still be on track for another bowl game and winning season.
Vegas odds makers have BYU as a three-point favorite this week and that’s about all you could pray for as a BYU fan at this point. Utah State is a really talented program with solid coaching and they are very knowledgeable when it comes to BYU football. The Aggies are really hard to beat in Maverik Stadium with coach Matt Wells, who is currently 15-3 in his last 18 non-conference home games. The series between BYU vs Utah State is 35-48-3 overall.
This year, I am sure their program sees the Cougars as easy prey and why wouldn’t they this season? In the end, I expect a hard-nosed game and an evenly-matched competitive level on the field. For BYU to squeak out a victory this week, it will be earned – every point will be, for that matter.
If the Cougars lose to both Utah and Utah State this year, that will be even harder to take Monday morning around the water cooler.
I get asked almost daily this time of year questions about BYU football and for the first time, I don’t have many of the answers for the program. I have stated that I think the Cougars are in trouble with the direction they are heading. Whether it’s coaching, recruiting, time to adjust for the new staff and a rebuilding year (or whatever you want to call it), something needs to change and this game could do just that.
A win this week would put BYU at 2-3 with a much softer side of the season schedule ahead. Utah State hasn’t played all that well this year and neither has the remainder of the teams left on BYU’s 2017 schedule (except Mississippi State, which is currently 3-1).
The rest of the season for the Cougars gives some hope and peace of mind that BYU can get itself back to winning ways. After USU, the Cougars face Boise State (2-2), Mississippi State (3-1), East Carolina (1-3), San Jose State (1-4), Fresno State (1-2), UNLV (1-2), UMass (0-5), and Hawaii (2-2).
If BYU can’t pull off wins against most of those programs (again, excepting Mississippi State), maybe it’s best for the program to miss a bowl game in 2017 and start making some drastic changes sooner, rather than later, to save things for a better 2018-19 season.
Blue Blood is a sports column written by former BYU team captain Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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