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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/Troy Game

BYU running back Lopini Katoa runs for a big play against the Navy Midshipmen on September 7th, 2020. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – No. 18 BYU hosts Troy Saturday night in Provo. The game will be played in front of an empty LaVell Edwards Stadium but will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Both BYU and Troy are 1-0 and had a pair of dominating performances in their season-openers. Who will come away victorious with a 2-0 record to open 2020?

Here are three storylines going into Saturday’s BYU-Troy game that will could determine the victor.

#1 Who maintains the momentum?

Saturday at 8:15 p.m. will mark 19 days since BYU was last in action. The longest gap between two games for BYU since 2001. Was the 55-3 win over Navy just a one-time thing against a squad who didn’t tackle, or is this who BYU is in 2020?

Momentum can carry college football teams to new heights, and both BYU and Troy feel confident coming into Saturday’s first-ever matchup between the two programs. Whichever team can build off their stellar season-opener should be in the right spot this weekend.

#2 Passing game 

Both teams are confident they can go to the air to make big plays. BYU’s Zach Wilson made a little bit of news this week by revealing he had a case of COVID-19 earlier this summer. He’s coming off a performance where he completed 72 percent of his passes and threw for 232 yards.

Troy’s Gunnar Watson passed for 248 yards in his first career start and completed 70 percent of his passes against Middle Tennessee.

Which team will have more success through the air? BYU’s cornerback unit is banged up with Chris Wilcox and D’Angelo Mandell’s statuses to be determined. Troy Warner played at cornerback in the win over Navy. Will he switch back to Safety, allowing for Hayden Livingston or true freshman Micah Harper to get the start at cornerback?

Troy’s secondary was ranked 119th out of 130 teams last year in pass efficiency defense. This BYU-Troy matchup has the making of being a high scoring matchup with a lot of fireworks through the air.

#3 Ground attacks with something to prove

BYU has suffered a handful of personnel hits to the running back room this season. Still, it didn’t matter against Navy as Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa ran wild over an ill-prepared Midshipmen defense. Allgeier and Katoa combined for 212 yards and were making big plays behind an offensive line that was creating huge lanes to work in space.

Troy’s B.J. Smith returned this year after suffering a season-ending injury last year. Smith was the preseason Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year pick in 2019. In his debut back last week against Middle Tennessee, he ran for 81 yards and had one catch for 19 yards. Smith is a leader on and off the field for Chip Lindsey’s program; there’s a good chance the Trojans try to establish him early in the game.

BYU’s defense kept Navy’s high-powered triple-option attack to only 119 rushing yards. The lowest for a Navy team since 2002.

No. 18 BYU vs. Troy

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. (MDT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (No fans will be in attendance)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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