Remember when we were talking about Boise State being BYUs biggest game in 40 years? Well that lasted about one month. Today, ESPN's College Gameday visits Conway, South Carolina for a game that didn’t exist 72 hours ago. This game epitomizes the 2020 college football season. Coastal was originally slated to face 9-1 Liberty, but when Liberty was unable to go due to COVID issues, the Chanticleers called BYU who was only too happy to oblige. After all, any team, any time, any place.
This is a matchup of two excellent football teams with something to prove. Despite the CFP committee’s “tremendous amount of respect” for both programs, they are on the outside looking in on the NY6 bowl games. That could change for one of these teams on Saturday. No. 13 BYU and No. 18 Coastal Carolina actually have a lot in common. Both come in at 9-0, have prolific offenses, and have been repeatedly hit over the head with a mallet with the inscription “but they haven’t played anyone” on a daily basis for months.
These teams, though, have captured the imagination of the college football world, and this game comes as a Christmas miracle to a college football season that was in desperate need of some good news. Both Coastal and BYU have been dominant, but needed an opportunity to prove themselves. That moment has finally arrived. Game on.
Why Coastal Carolina Could Win
If you aren’t sold on the Chanticleers, you probably haven’t watched them very much. Coastal Carolina’s offense would be a nightmare to prepare for under any circumstances, let alone on two days’ notice. Running that offense is redshirt freshman Grayson McCall, who has been sensational. His 188.4 pass efficiency rating is the 15th best in college football history. Yes, you read that right. His supporting cast features an excellent stable of running backs led by Torrance Marable, whose running style resembles a bowling ball moving at 4.4 speed.
Defensively, the Chanticleers specialize in making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. Their secondary gives up just 181 yards per game through the air and are led by D’Jordan Strong who leads the nation with 5 interceptions on the year. Not to be outdone, defensive linemen CJ Brewer and Tarron Jackson live in opposing backfields, combining for 15 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this season
The Chanticleers can win this game if they do two things: keep BYU QB Zach Wilson off the field, and force him to make mistakes when he is on the field. Jamey Chadwell’s squad has proven capable of doing just that. Coastal Carolina is methodical in the way they move the football. They are 14th in time of possession and run the ball about 65% of the time. If they can score points on long, sustained drives, and force turnovers as they did against App State a week ago, the Chants could pick up their biggest win in program history.
Why BYU Could Win
No one has been able to stop BYUs offense. BYU’s lowest offensive output of the season (470 yards against UTSA) is still 20 yards better than Coastal Carolina’s average (448.3 yards). That starts, of course, with Heisman contender Zach Wilson. Remember what I said about Grayson McCall having the 15th most efficient season in college football history? Well Wilson is third. But what if I told you that the key to this game for BYU would not be Wilson, but running back Tyler Allgeier?
The Chanticleers were gashed on the ground against in their biggest games in conference play, specifically giving up 7.9 yards per carry to No. 25 Louisiana. As good as Ragin' Cajuns’ are, though, the don’t quite measure up to BYU’s offensive front. BYU has the second best offensive line in the country according to Pro Football Focus, and they will be on full display against an undersized Chanticleer front 7.
Coastal Carolina is a fantastic football team, but they seem overmatched on paper. They are certainly good enough to win this football game, but they don’t have the size to compete with BYU in the trenches on either side of the ball. This game will come down to whether or not BYUs defense can get Coastal off the field on third down. That might be a tall task, as Coastal ranks third nationally in converting third downs, but if BYU is up for it, it could be a long day for the Chants.
The Chanticleers will put up some points, but in the end it will not be enough to keep up.
The Cougars will come with a heavy dose of Allgeier interspersed by dazzling deep balls from Zach Wilson. The Cougars will put up 250+ in the air and 200 on the ground as Khyiris Tonga overwhelms the Coastal Carolina offensive line with a sack and multiple hurries. In the end, the cock will crow on the Chanticleers undefeated season (which has been nothing short of magical already), and the Cougars send a message to the CFP committee that they demand to be taken seriously.
BYU 45- 27 Coastal Carolina