COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Vs. Utah State: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Sep 29, 2022, 9:52 AM | Updated: 9:53 am
BYU vs Utah State, Wagon Wheel...
BYU vs Utah State renews on the football field for the 91st meeting all-time. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – No. 19 BYU vs Utah State tonight marks the 91st all-time meeting between the two in-state rivals.

BYU comes into this matchup on a two-game winning streak against the Aggies. Both of the wins were in Logan. The last time Utah State traveled to Provo was in 2018, the 2020 meeting was canceled due to the Mountain West going to a conference-only schedule.

BYU comes into the game 3-1 overall on the year after defeating Wyoming last week. Utah State is looking for answers as they enter Provo on a three-game skid after suffering losses to Weber State and UNLV in Logan. Do they get right and “circle the wagons” against BYU? Hard to imagine that scenario playing out considering how much the Aggies have struggled this season, but this matchup has produced some strange outcomes over the past decade.

No. 19 BYU vs. Utah State

Kickoff: 6 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Now it’s time for the 3-2-1 game day preview for tonight’s matchup between BYU and Utah State.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. It’s hard to picture this game returning anytime soon

One of the big storylines entering tonight’s matchup is that this is the last scheduled game between BYU and Utah State. Next to Utah, there is no school that BYU has more history with than against the Aggies.

But in the era of realignment, history continues to go by the wayside. So with BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference and the Cougars showing that they will be lining an annual FCS game, where does Utah State fit in the non-conference scheduling?

BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he would like to see the game rescheduled in the future. Honestly, I agree with him. I’d rather watch/cover BYU/Utah State than BYU vs Sam Houston State or against Southern Illinois.

But if everyone else in the Power Five continues to schedule FCS teams in the 12-team Playoff era, there’s no incentive for BYU to play the game.

2. Fast start is needed for BYU

BYU is a sizable favorite in this matchup. No one is questioning whether BYU wins this game or not; they should cruise. But, can they play at their best? The team that rolled through USF four weeks hasn’t been on display since.

BYU QB Jaren Hall told the KSL Sports Zone getting out to a fast start is something the team is working on heading into this matchup.

3. Thursday nights need to be a thing again in college football

Growing up in the 90s, I loved Thursday night college football. While many schools from the Big Ten and other major leagues scoffed at the idea of playing a game on a weeknight, programs like BYU, San Diego State, and Virginia Tech embraced it. ESPN put those teams in spotlight windows that captured big audiences.

Who doesn’t remember the annual BYU/San Diego State or Colorado State tilts in the WAC and Mountain West? Or even the season openers against Syracuse or Georgia Tech? Those were marquee games, with top-notch broadcasters rolling through Provo.

Tonight’s matchup isn’t a head turner nationally, but the broadcast should be good, and it’s an opportunity to capture more eyeballs than in a typical late Saturday night spot.

When you think of BYU’s run in Independence, having a television partner in ESPN, a big reason is a willingness that BYU has always had to play anytime except Sunday. They’ve always had a desire to get the most exposure possible.

With the NFL now on a streaming-only service, Amazon Prime, Thursday night college football has the potential to be a thing again over linear networks. The opening week matchup between West Virginia and Pitt was a great game.

BYU football and Thursday nights have a strong history together. So it’s good to see it rekindled.

Two BYU vs Utah State Questions

1. Who earns the “hot hand” at BYU’s running spot tonight?

Last week, third-year freshman Miles Davis had a breakout performance against Wyoming, rushing for 131 yards on 13 carries. Two days after the game, he was listed as a co-starter on the depth chart at running back with Chris Brooks and Lopini Katoa.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake has been asked directly if the lack of Chris Brooks was injury or performance-related; he didn’t specifically comment. But continues to point to a “running back by committee” approach.

Last week, Katoa got the first series, Davis the second, and Brooks had the third series.

2. Will we see Jacob Conover?

BYU/Utah State games have a weird history over the past decade with quarterbacks. This Wagon Wheel game always has a quarterback storyline, from numerous injuries to starters losing their jobs.

The storyline for BYU at quarterback tonight should be building a big enough lead that allows Jaren Hall to rest the remainder of the night. It would open the door for backup QB Jacob Conover to play tonight if that happens.

Last year, Conover was thrown into the BYU/Utah State game after Baylor Romney suffered a concussion. Conover finished 5-of-9 for 45 yards. Coming out of that game, people questioned Conover’s abilities, leading to a position battle for the backup QB spot this year.

The former four-star quarterback won the battle decisively and earned high praise from offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick for his play. However, it would be a nice luxury for BYU to get additional intel on Conover against an FBS opponent.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Utah State

BYU takes care of business tonight to get their third consecutive win against the Aggies. The question is whether they regain that rhythm Kalani Sitake felt was missing a week ago. I believe they do, and the Wagon Wheel stays in Provo for an extended period of time.

BYU 51, Utah State 22

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

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