No. 11 BYU rolls into meeting with Western Kentucky
Off to a 6-0 start for just the fifth time in school history and with a showdown with defending Mountain West champion Boise State on the horizon, No. 11 BYU is more than a four-touchdown favorite to make it 7-0 Saturday night when it hosts Western Kentucky in Provo, Utah.
Behind the passing of junior quarterback Zach Wilson, the Cougars have scored 40 or more points in five of their first six games, including last week when they scored 49 unanswered points in a 52-14 drubbing of Texas State. They rolled up 579 total yards in the process.
Among teams that have played multiple games, BYU ranks fifth nationally in scoring offense (45.0 points per game), total offense (547.3) and passing offense (353.3) with the 6-foot-3 Wilson leading the way. He has completed 126 of 161 passes for 1,928 yards, 16 touchdowns and one interception. He also has rushed for 115 yards and six touchdowns.
Wilson finished 19 of 25 for 287 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Texas State and also added 15 rushing yards and a 16-yard pass reception. BYU also set a school-record with 14 players catching at least one pass.
But Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake says there are still plenty of things for his team to work on, especially with a Nov. 6 matchup at regional rival and 25th-ranked Boise State coming up. On paper, it appears to be BYU’s biggest obstacle to an undefeated regular season.
The Broncos (1-0), who walloped Utah State, 42-13, in their season-opener and travel to Air Force on Saturday afternoon, no doubt have that contest circled on the schedule after dropping a 28-25 decision to the Cougars last season in Provo.
“I love the way our guys responded all night, and I look forward to fixing some of the things we can improve on from this week and play better next week against Western Kentucky,” Sitake said. “That is my mindset, is just thinking about things we can get better at.”
BYU, which opened the season with an eye-popping 55-3 rout of Navy, and owns wins over Louisiana Tech (45-14) and Houston (43-26), also ranks No. 8 nationally in scoring defense (14.0) and No. 7 in total defense (284.5) among teams that have played multiple games.
“I really don’t care about how all the stats line up, or where we line up with awards and all the accolades and all that stuff,” Sitake said. “Winning is all that matters, and keeping our team as deep as possible by letting reserves play as much as possible when the outcome is no longer in doubt.”
Those reserves could get their share of playing time again on Saturday night against a 2-4 Western Kentucky squad that needed a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome to wide receiver Craig Burt Jr. with 1:21 remaining to pull out a 13-10 over FCS member Chattanooga last week.
Pigrome, a 5-10 graduate transfer from Maryland, has completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 632 yards and seven touchdowns in five appearances, but has also rushed for 227 yards. He has split time with sophomore Kevaris Thomas who left the Chattanooga game with a hip pointer.
“Big game this week, get to play an undefeated BYU,” said Hilltoppers head coach Tyson Helton. “It will be a very unique trip but an exciting one. A great opportunity to play an undefeated team, and I know our guys will be excited about that. We’re definitely looking forward to going out there. It should be a pretty good deal to be on national television.”
–Field Level Media