No. 18 BYU (9-1) aims to rebound vs. San Diego State
BYU’s bid for an undefeated season has ended, but the No. 18 Cougars look to rebound from that disappointment when they host San Diego State on Saturday night in Provo, Utah.
BYU (9-1) dropped a 22-17 road decision at Coastal Carolina last Saturday and now turns its focus to securing its first 10-win season since 2011.
Putting aside the setback isn’t easy for Cougars receiver Dax Milne, as he was tackled a yard short of the end zone on the game’s final play.
“It hurts,” Milne said. “I think that happening honestly just put a chip on our shoulder, that we’re not done yet. We’ve got a lot more to say, and we’d like any opportunity we can to just go prove ourselves.”
The loss caused BYU to drop five spots in the College Football Playoff rankings.
“We just want to play football. I let everyone else do the talking on rankings and that stuff,” Cougars coach Kalani Sitake said before the latest rankings were announced Tuesday night. “I love coaching these guys, and they love to play football.”
BYU traditionally has fared well against the Aztecs (4-3), holding a 28-8-1 series edge. San Diego State is just 2-16 all-time at LaVell Edwards Stadium, with the first victory occurring in 1992, when legendary Marshall Faulk ran for 299 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-38 win.
The two schools were in the same conference for 33 consecutive seasons — the Western Athletic Conference from 1978-1998 and the Mountain West from 1999-2010 — but are playing for just the third time since BYU became an independent in 2011. One of those meetings — won by the Cougars — came in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl.
“When they left the league, that was obviously tough on everybody,” Aztecs coach Brady Hoke said. “I think our guys are competitive and this program is based on competition. So they’re excited about it. They know the history. We try to remind them of the history the two schools have.”
Last season, San Diego State shut down BYU’s offense in posting a 13-3 home win under then-head coach Rocky Long.
Cougars star Zach Wilson passed for 316 yards but was intercepted twice and failed to throw a touchdown pass.
This season, he has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game and has been picked off just three times. Wilson has thrown for 2,964 yards and 27 touchdowns and has eight rushing scores.
“He is unbelievable,” Hoke said of Wilson. “His ability to get the ball off and his ability to extend plays, he does a great job. He will be a real test for our defense.”
BYU topped 40 points in five straight games and eight of nine before scoring only 17 in the loss to the Chanticleers. The Cougars rank seventh in the nation in scoring offense (44.5 points per game) and total offense (522.7 yards per game).
Milne has caught 55 passes for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns, and Tyler Allgeier has rushed for 957 yards and 12 scores.
San Diego State will look to mirror last year’s effort and seek to make it a low-scoring affair. The Aztecs rank third in the country in total defense (269.1 ypg) and eighth in scoring defense (16.3 ppg).
However, San Diego State is just 104th in total offense (343.9 ypg) as it goes against a BYU defense that rates fourth in scoring defense (14.7 ppg) and seventh in total defense (299.9 ypg).
Hoke said quarterback Jordon Brookshire will make his second straight start. Brookshire completed 14 of 24 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown, with one interception, in last Saturday’s 29-17 win over Colorado State.
Running back Greg Bell (team-high 569 rushing yards) is getting closer to full health after suffering an ankle injury Nov. 21.
–Field Level Media