Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner of BYU vs. Arizona State

Sep 16, 2021, 3:24 PM
Jaren Hall - BYU Cougars - Arizona Wildcats...
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Riding high after a Big 12 invite and a win over rival Utah, BYU looks to go 3-0 against the Pac-12 South this season when it faces the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, September 18.

LaVell Edwards Stadium should be packed once again for a ranked matchup of #23 BYU vs. #19 Arizona State.

Arizona State vs. BYU

Arizona State enters the game 2-0 on the season with wins over Southern Utah and UNLV. Apart from a close first half last week, the Sun Devils have yet to be challenged this college football season. That will change on Saturday night as these teams meet for the first time since 1998, when BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was the Cougars’ fullback.

Here are three storylines that could determine the winner of Arizona State vs. BYU:

Three Storylines for BYU vs. Arizona State

1) Both Teams Need An Early Lead

Much like last week’s matchup against Utah, both teams want to establish the run game early. Two Top-50 teams in rushing offense, BYU and ASU rely on the run game to move the ball and keep the opposing offense off the field.

Neither quarterback has reached 200 passing yards in a game this season, but both Jaren Hall and Jayden Daniels have been contributors in the run game. Daniels leads the Sun Devils in rushing yards through two games and Hall is second on BYU behind running back Tyler Allgeier. Arizona State has three players with over 100 rushing yards on the season and both teams are averaging over 4.8 yards per attempt.

Both quarterbacks are big playmakers and threats through the air, but BYU and ASU want to be able to run the ball early and often. Playing from behind and being forced to throw the ball could expose either team to the strong secondary on the other side of the ball. Whoever can get out to an early lead in this game will have a big advantage.

2) Third Down Conversions

Sustaining drives and keeping the opposing offense off the field will be key for both BYU and Arizona State. Both offenses are over 50 percent on third down conversions this season. On the other side of the ball, the respective defenses are holding well on third down. BYU’s third down conversion rate is top 20 in the country (27 percent) while ASU comes in at 32 percent.

Both offenses are capable of eating clock with long drives. Which defense will step up and get stops when it’s needed? Last week, Utah was 2-9 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down. If the BYU defense can put up a similar performance against the Sun Devils, the Cougars will be well positioned for a win.

3) Which Quarterback Will Shine In The Spotlight?

Saturday night’s showdown is a big early test for both BYU and Arizona State. The Sun Devils were ranked #19 before the season began, but their two wins haven’t propelled them forward in the polls. BYU is out to prove that 2020 was not a fluke and that Kalani Sitake has led this program to new heights. This week provides a chance for both teams to make their case as one of college football’s best teams out west.

At the center of that spotlight are the two quarterbacks — Hall and Daniels. Similar in their skillsets and style of play, both Hall and Daniels can lead their team to a ranked win and simultaneously put their name in the national conversation.

Daniels received a lot of hype after a successful freshman year in 2019, but COVID-19 wrecked the Pac-12 season in 2020 and a big game in Provo will remind the masses just how good he is.

Hall has just four career starts, but after a stellar performance against Utah, he is primed for a breakout on the national stage.

Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, Hall and Daniels will be the key for both offenses to get a win on Saturday night. The stage is set for an epic showdown between two exciting quarterbacks.

BYU vs. Arizona State takes place at LaVell Edwards Stadium on September 18th. Pre-game coverage begins at 6 p.m. (MDT) on KSL NewsRadio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. (MDT).

Dallen Graff is a KSL Sports Contributor. He is the Producer of Cougar Sports Saturday (SUBSCRIBE) on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Twitter.

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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner of BYU vs. Arizona State