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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner of BYU vs USF

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Keanu Hill (1) celebrates a long catch setting up a Cougar score as BYU and Utah play an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Scott G. Winterton)

PROVO, Utah – The Cougars are again off to a hot start, 3-0 in back-to-back seasons. BYU has two wins over ranked opponents and have set themselves up to have an all-time season. It continues this week with BYU vs USF.

BYU Cougars & USF Bulls

The Bulls come into Provo for another late night Saturday matchup, as the Cougars look to avenge a disappointing loss in Tampa Bay in 2019. USF is 1-2 with a win over Florida A&M and losses to NC State and Florida. Here are three storylines that could determine the winner of BYU vs USF.

Three Storylines For BYU vs USF

1) Stay Healthy

The Cougars got a big win last week, but left LaVell Edwards Stadium banged up at some key positions. Arguably BYU’s best defensive player, linebacker Keenan Pili, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL last week.

Quarterback Jaren Hall was injured on BYU’s final scoring drive, ultimately capped off by a Baylor Romney touchdown pass. He spoke with media after the game, indicating he just had the wind knocked out of him. We may or may not see Hall on Saturday, as BYU will not need QB1 to beat the Bulls.

Cornerback Isaiah Herron and defensive lineman Atunaisa Mahe both suffered injuries last week against ASU, but are still listed as a starters on the depth chart. You never want to see injuries pile up this early in the season. The hope this week is that BYU can stay healthy and get away with a win.

2) Time For an Offensive Explosion

Despite the fact that BYU has started the season 3-0, there is room to improve. The offense through three weeks has been good, but not great. The Cougs have the 89th ranked scoring offense in college football, averaging 25.7 ppg. Jaren Hall has reached 200 passing yards in a game just once this season and the team hasn’t reached 30 points in a game yet.

That should change on Saturday. The USF defense has allowed 34.7 ppg this season, ranked 112th in the country, and 43.5 points per game against Power 5 opponents.

Jaren Hall mentioned this week on KSL’s Unrivaled that there is another level to reach on offense. Against a porous Bull’s defense, let’s see if it’s time for an offensive explosion for the Cougars.

3) Don’t Overlook an “Easy” Game (see: USF 2019)

The circumstances are very different in 2021 than they were two years ago, the last time these two teams met. Jaren Hall was making his first career start, BYU was coming off a disappointing loss to Toledo, and on the road at Raymond James Stadium the Cougars fell short 27-23. This time around BYU is riding high off a Big 12 invite, a broken losing streak against their rival Utah and a Top 15 ranking.

The Cougars have had three tough matchups to start their season, they cannot overlook an “easy” game. BYU has the potential for a special season, but they must stay focused one week at a time. Kalani Sitake has kept his team focused so far this season; this is just another week.

BYU vs USF takes place at LaVell Edwards Stadium on September 25th. 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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