Photo courtesy of BYU athletics
Perhaps the biggest game on the schedule for both BYU and Boise State is just days away.
The teams will meeting this Friday at 7:45 p.m. MDT. BYU is 7-0 and ranked ninth in the nation. Boise State is ranked 21st after topping Utah State and Air Force to open the 2020 season.
The Cougars are the highest ranked visiting team to ever play at Albertson’s Stadium. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the mystique of the “Smurf Turf” will be lessened with the absence of fans.
However, that does not take away from the meaning of this game for both teams. BYU is ranked the highest it has been since 2009 and is vying for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
This is something the Cougars have yet to do in the history of their program. Even the undefeated 1984 national championship team was relegated to face Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. At the time, that’s where the champions of the WAC played each year.
Being in a New Year’s Six game would have a monumental impact on the BYU program — both in prestige and financially. The Cougars could keep the revenue money all to themselves and use it to keep high-quality staff members, upgrade facilities, and increase resources for recruiting.
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For the Broncos, it could be another notch on the belt for a program that has dominated the last decade and a half. Getting revenge on the Cougars for ruining their perfect record last year at LaVell Edwards Stadium is something that has to be on the minds of all Bronco players and fans. Boise State had won the previous three match-ups.
There are an unlimited amount of storylines heading into this game. Many on the BYU side are calling this the biggest game since the 1984 Holiday Bowl. The team with the most to lose is BYU, but the Cougars also have the most to gain.
If the Cougars win, the “BYU Hype Train” led by Cam Mellor of SB Nation and Joe Wheat of BYU Sports Illustrated, will catapult to epic proportions. The Cougars would only have currently undefeated San Diego State standing in the way of a perfect season.
If the Broncos win, they catapult to the top of the New Year’s Six conversation. The clear frontrunner among non-Power 5 teams is the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats.
With so much on the line, you can bet that both of these teams will be on their A-game for this Friday night match-up. It will air nationally on Fox Sports 1.
Both teams have seen a fair amount of injuries throughout the season thus far.
For BYU, it has been without star tight end Matt Bushman. Bushman tore his Achilles at the beginning of the season. Some other notable players that should be available for this game that have been held out are wide receiver Gunner Romney, center James Empey, guard Tristen Hoge, and running back Sione Finau.
For Boise State, it is unknown what exactly prevented star quarterback Hank Bachmeier from playing last week vs. Air Force. Many however, have speculated that it was from COVID-19 protocol.
Backup and USC transfer Jack Sears proved he was more than capable of leading the Broncos to victory with his performance vs. the Falcons, winning 49-30. Sears was an outstanding 17-for-20 passing with 280 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Running back George Holani suffered an ankle sprain vs. Air Force and his status is in doubt for this coming week. Holani rushed for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdown as a freshman last season.
The Broncos struggled to stop the run vs. Air Force and cannot afford to do so if they hope to pull off the upset against BYU. Ranked fifth nationally in passer rating, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has been a nightmare for opposing teams off play action. If the running game gets going for the Cougars, this game could get ugly fast.
Expect Boise State to play tough vs. BYU on Friday, but the Cougars will pull away late to get their first ever win over Boise State on the blue turf.
Prediction: BYU 44, Boise State 31