Three Storylines That Could Deteremine Winner Of BYU/Boise State Game

Nov 5, 2020, 9:32 PM | Updated: 9:32 pm

Zach Wilson - BYU - Boise State...

Quarterback Zach Wilson #11 of the BYU Cougars scrambles away from pressure during first half action against the Boise State Broncos on November 3, 2018 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

BOISE, Idaho – No. 9 BYU travels north this weekend to take on the No. 21 Boise State Broncos in the 11th meeting between the two programs. Kickoff between BYU and Boise State is set for Friday, November 6th, at 7:45 p.m. (MT). The game will be played at Albertsons Stadium in Boise in front of an expected crowd of 975 Boise State students.

BYU comes into the game with an undefeated 7-0 record. One of only two college football teams right now has started the wild and crazy 2020 season with seven consecutive wins. The other is No. 1 Clemson.

Boise State enters the game with a 2-0 record after starting its season on October 24th. The Broncos have been one of the top programs in the Group of 5/Non-BCS, dating back to 1999.

BYU/Boise State Storylines

BYU and Boise State is an annual matchup that has been played yearly since 2012. This year’s game was in jeopardy of not being played due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic led to the Mountain West Conference postponing its season before announcing its return in September, allowing BYU and Boise to be played for the ninth consecutive season.

Here are three storylines going into Friday’s Top 25 matchup between BYU/Boise State that could determine the winner.

#1 Is BYU legit?

The last time a Top-10 BYU team faced a nationally-ranked opponent was in the 1997 Cotton Bowl. That is a long time. It’s not often BYU gets opportunities to play in a game where they are ranked, and their opponent is also in the national polls. With a schedule that was ravaged by COVID-19, BYU’s strength of schedule took a massive hit. But Boise State on the blue poses an opportunity for the undefeated Cougars to show the nation that their undefeated record isn’t just a byproduct of playing bad teams.

BYU is the highest-ranked opponent to ever play at Boise State. The Cougars come into the game as a slight favorite over the Broncos.

With a win, the path is set for BYU to earn a potential at-large bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game. But why stop there? BYU would have an outside shot at being in the College Football Playoff. National analysts such as ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit are sold on BYU to this point. Can Kalani Sitake’s squad continue to stamp the legitimacy of this season with their first win ever in Boise against BSU? It would go a long way from a program that has been craving this moment.

#2 All eyes on the quarterbacks

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has been one of the popular names in college football this season. Wilson is in the thick of the Heisman conversation, and he’s led BYU to their first 7-0 start since 2001. The swagger from Wilson has lifted BYU to being one of the top offenses nationally.

If Wilson has any chance of winning the Heisman, he will need to deliver a big performance against Boise State. Three weeks ago against Houston, Wilson put up a career-high 400 yards in a come-from-behind victory. He might not need 400, but he needs a win and at least 300 yards through the air to keep his Heisman momentum rolling.

To possibly have his Heisman moment against the team he was once committed to in Boise State is a unique stage for the talented junior signal-caller.

For Boise State, it’s still not clear who the starter will actually be Friday night. The week one starter in Hank Bachmeier didn’t travel to the Broncos game against Air Force last week. Creating an opportunity for USC grad transfer Jack Sears to start. Sears made the most of his opportunity passing for 280 yards on 17-of-20 passing.

Sears might be the better quarterback than Bachmeier, but was his performance a byproduct of facing a weak Air Force defense? Bachmeier’s status hasn’t been announced by Boise coaches this week. They are keeping it close to the vest.

#3 Turnovers define big games

The turnover margin is critical in any game, but it takes on greater precedence in games that carry a lot of significance. Last week, in the win over Western Kentucky, Zach Wilson tossed only his second interception of the season.

Wilson set the BYU record for most consecutive passes without an interception before the INT against WKU with 184 consecutive passes without a pick. This is a great opportunity for Wilson to prove he can take care of the football against quality competition.

On the other hand, Boise has yet to turn the ball over through two games this season. The Broncos have only had one takeaway so far.

Which defense or special teams unit can force a turnover? In a game with the makings of being a tightly contested matchup, any takeaway could be a huge momentum swing. Watch out for the turnover margin in this game.

No. 9 BYU vs. No. 21 Boise State

Date: November 6th, 2020


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM, KSL NewsRadio app)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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 and the KSL Sports app.

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Three Storylines That Could Deteremine Winner Of BYU/Boise State Game