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BYU/Washington State Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Oct 23, 2021, 1:19 AM
Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...
PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 25 : Head coach Kalani Sitake of the BYU Cougars waves to fans as he leaves the stadium after their game against the South Florida Bulls at LaVell Edwards Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PULLMAN, Washington – The fifth meeting all-time for BYU vs Washington State has taken on a bigger spotlight nationally. It has the potential to be a sneaky good game on the week eight slate of the college football weekend.

This matchup features two teams going in different directions on the field. BYU has lost their last two games and has tumbled out of the top 25 rankings. On the other hand, Washington State has won their previous three games but just dismissed Nick Rolovich and four assistants for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

This is the second game of a two-game series between the two schools. The first meeting took place in 2012 in Provo.

BYU is 5-2 overall and Washington State boasts a 4-3 record heading into this All-Cougar matchup.

BYU vs Washington State

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: FS1

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Pregame starts at 9 a.m.)

Now it’s time for the 3-2-1 Game Day Preview for today’s game here on the Palouse.

Three Gameday Thoughts

1. Today is going to be surreal

The dismissal of Nick Rolovich as Washington State’s head coach plus four assistants for not getting a COVID-19 vaccine has created an unprecedented situation.

In-season firings are not uncommon in college football. But it is rare to be centered around something away from football, especially with it leaving Wazzu understaffed.

The Cougs from the Palouse hired a pair of assistants coaches this week who have a background with the Run-N-Shoot offense to help the student-athletes get additional coaching. But this whole ordeal is surreal.

The setting here in Pullman should be a good crowd. BYU will have a solid turnout of fans show up, as they always do. However, it will be interesting to see what type of turnout Washington State provides at the turnstiles. Rolovich’s controversy created a split with the Washington State fan base. Do they come together to support a team that is currently playing some good football? Or do they let BYU fans do what they know and take over a road venue?

2. This is a great QB matchup

BYU’s Jaren Hall and Washington State’s Jayden de Laura should give everyone quite the show today at Martin Stadium. Both QBs have been passing the football well in recent weeks.

In the past two weeks, Hall has set career-highs in passing yards. Against the Baylor Bears, Hall passed for 342 yards and threw no interceptions. As he continues to get closer to 100% health after dealing with a ribs injury, Hall also becomes a more significant threat on the ground as well with his dual-threat playmaking ability.

Jayden de Laura is no stranger to BYU coaches. Coming out of St. Louis High School in Hawaii, BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick and passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake offered the dual-threat playmaker.

Two weeks ago, de Laura passed for 399 yards in an upset win over Oregon State. It’s no coincidence that Washington State’s current three-game winning streak has coincided with his emergence as the starting QB after replacing Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano.

Two BYU vs Washington State questions

#1 Will BYU get back to playing physical football?

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake called out his team for their lack of physicality last week in a loss to Baylor.

It’s a surprising development that no one saw coming, especially after Utah and Arizona State wins. But BYU was getting beat in the trenches last week against their future Big 12 foe.

Washington State is not as talented as Baylor at the line of scrimmage. As a result, there’s an opportunity for BYU to reestablish its physical presence against the Cougars on the Palouse.

Getting starter Joe Tukuafu back along the offensive line is a big boost. Right tackle Harris LaChance has practiced throughout the week but is a game time decision for today.

Tyler Batty is viewed as one of the top leaders on defense since Keenan Pili went down with a season-ending injury. He and Pepe Tanuvasa will be two players for BYU that could create some havoc for Wazzu QB Jayden de Laura.

#2 Can BYU avoid the three-game losing streak?

This is a big game for BYU. Lose this one and the Cougars could see this one promising season start to go completely off the tracks. BYU comes into this game against Washington State as the projected favorite.

Whenever going on the road against a Power 5 opponent, it’s an accomplishment for BYU to come out of the game with a victory. Washington State is expected to play with a lot of emotion in this game. If BYU matches the energy and plays disciplined, mistake-free football, they should win this game.

But if they don’t, it will give Cougar fans flash backs to when BYU lost to Missouri in 2015. Remember that game? Missouri only had two days of practice after threatening to boycott the game against BYU in Arrowhead Stadium. The Tigers rolled in with one of the nation’s worst offenses but still found a way to come away with a win. That was an ugly loss for BYU, today’s game from an optics standpoint could feel similar with how much turmoil the Cougs clad in red have gone through this week.

One score prediction

I’m calling for Jaren Hall to have a big game today. For BYU to win this game, they need a memorable performance from Jaren Hall. Not just a good game, but a showing that could go down in BYU lore for years to come.

This will be a close football game. But I expect BYU’s defense to make some adjustments this week and regain that physicality that has been sorely lacking the past two weeks. Washington State’s line of scrimmage is not as daunting as the group BYU faced against Baylor.

BYU gets back in the win column in their first trip to Pullman.

BYU 27, Washington State 26

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 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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