BYU’s path to an undefeated regular season is pretty clear. Though it might have been better for the Cougars if Boise State was able to put up more of a fight.
No. 9 BYU had no problem beating No. 21 Boise State 51-17 on Friday night. The Cougars’ 13-point halftime lead of 16-3 was the biggest deficit Boise State had faced at halftime since the Broncos trailed 24-0 in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl.
BYU (8-0) easily added to that margin too. The Cougars got the ball to start the second half and made it 23-3 in less than 150 seconds. The lead quickly grew two more touchdowns in the third quarter as Boise State was incapable of mounting any sort of comeback.
Cougars QB Zach Wilson threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another while RB Tyler Allgeier went over 100 yards thanks to an 86-yard TD run on BYU’s first possession of the game.
Boise State played three QBs
Boise State was forced to start backup QB Jack Sears in place of Hank Bachmeier for the second consecutive game. Sears then had to leave the game in the first half after a QB sneak.
Sears was hit in the head on the sneak and was noticeably unsteady enough that officials asked him to head to the sideline. He then went to the locker room and never returned to the game.
That forced Cade Fennegan — Boise State’s third-string QB — into action. And the offense struggled with him at QB. Coach Bryan Harsin inserted No. 4 QB Andy Peters into the game in the second half after BYU went up 31-3, though Fennegan later came back into the game.
The loss is the Broncos’ first defeat by 20 or more points at home since 2001 and the worst home loss since Boise State lost to Cal State Northridge to open the 1997 season. Boise State was an FCS school in the Big West Conference back then.
BYU’s weak schedule
BYU had a schedule lined up that included six games against Power Five opponents and Boise State. But as top conferences went to conference-only schedules because of the coronavirus pandemic, BYU was forced to cobble together a schedule that was considerably weaker than it was expecting to have.
That could be detrimental later in the season. Boise State was BYU’s best opponent remaining and, well, the Broncos didn’t put up much of a fight. Yeah, Boise was shorthanded at QB, but the Cougar offense didn’t have much trouble with the Boise State defense either.
You can look at it the other way too, of course. If BYU was that much better than a ranked opponent — no matter the conference — then BYU is a legitimate top-10 team, right?
Well, the rankings are a little discombobulated this year with the Big Ten starting its third week of play and the Pac-12 getting underway this weekend. While BYU is clearly one of the better teams in the country, it’s hard to get a true sense of how great the Cougars are.
That’s important when it comes to the New Year’s Six race. Since it’s an independent, BYU is only eligible for an at-large selection to a New Year’s Six bowl and not the top spot awarded to teams outside the Power Five conferences. How does BYU stack up against teams from the SEC and Big Ten?
On record, it’s not that close. BYU only has games against North Alabama and San Diego State remaining. Anything worse than 9-1 will be a disaster. Will 10-0 be good enough for a New Year’s Six bowl? It should be. But given the Cougars’ schedule, it’s not a guarantee just yet.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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