BYU Football: Texas State Preview
BYU’s pursuit of the Texas state championship continues Saturday night as they take on their third straight Lone Star squad in the Texas State Bobcats (1-5). The story surrounding these two teams has been a tale of two seasons. The 12th ranked Cougars have steamrolled through their first 5 games, and last week’s 43-26 win over Houston has BYU fans daydreaming about Top 10 rankings and New Year’s Day bowl games. Texas State, on the other hand, roll into Provo coming off their 5th loss in 6 tries. Still, the Bobcats have shown promise with four of their five losses coming by 10 points or less, including a 31-24 loss to No. 16 SMU and dropping a 24-21 heartbreaker to Power 5 foe Boston College.
Reasons for BYU to be Concerned
As has been the case with the last four BYU opponents, Texas State really likes to throw the football. The Bobcat’s have gone through a bit of a quarterback carousel, but have finally settled in on quarterback Brady McBride, who has thrown for 809 yards, 6 touchdowns, and a 122.6 passer rating in his four starts on the year. While those may seem like modest numbers, BYUs secondary has struggled to consistently contain pass happy offenses so far this season. Texas State likes to spread the ball around, with 6 different receivers having over 10 catches on the season. If they are able to find gaps in the zone like the Houston or UTSA offenses, this could be a big day in the passing game for McBride.
On the defensive side, the Bobcats are led by a couple of velociraptors in DL Nico Ezidore and LB Gavin Graham who rank 8th and 14th respectively in tackles for loss nationally. As a whole, the defensive unit seems to get better the deeper opposing offenses drive into Bobcat territory. They are top 30 nationally in red zone defense and forced 4 turnovers inside the 40 yard line in the second half against a high powered SMU offense. If the Bobcats can hold the Zach Wilson and co. to field goals and force turnovers, this game could get hairy late. That being said…
Reasons for BYU to be Confident
BYU isn’t going to have any problems moving the ball against Texas State. The Bobcats give up 442.8 yards of offense per game, including 285.7 yards through the air. To make matters worse, Texas State head coach Jake Spavital announced earlier this week that he may only have 6-7 DBs at his disposal due to injuries and other reasons. Add all that together, and I expect Zach Wilson to have an absolute field day. In the trenches the offensive line appears poised to feast on the Bobcat front, who ranks a measly 62nd in sacks and 43rd in rush defense. If BYU can dominate up front like they have been, this could be a day where BYU can do whatever it wants on offense.
Defensively, we can expect the big boys up front to put plenty of pressure on McBride. Texas State is in the bottom 4 nationally in sacks allowed and I don’t see that improving against NT and armored truck Khyiris Tonga. On the back half of the defense, the secondary seemed to turn a corner in the second half against Houston, and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t continue against a similar, but less talented model in Texas State.
Takeaway I’d Like to See
They say the true measure of a man is what he does when no one is watching, and the same is true of football teams. The Big 10 returning to play this weekend means the national spotlight will largely turn to other games, as many have already written this off as a BYU win. Still, BYU has historically struggled to keep focus in those kinds of games in the Kalani Sitake era. Dominant wins over Troy and La Tech have me thinking this BYU team is different, but their narrow victory against UTSA gave me flashbacks to the 2019 disasters against Toledo and USF. We have enough data to know that BYU is a very good football team, especially under the lights in prime time. The question now becomes, can they take care of business when they think no one is watching?
With the return of fans to LaVell Edwards Stadium and the memory of the near miss against UTSA fresh in their minds, I don’t foresee a BYU letdown coming against Texas State. BYU will dominate in the trenches and should be able to do whatever they want on both sides of the ball against a talented, but overmatched Texas State team. This could be a game where BYU puts up 500+ yards of offense and rides the Houston momentum toward another strong defensive showing. Expect BYU to dominate early and often, allowing them to take their foot off the gas in the second half. A late Texas State score will send BYU into another appearance on SVP’s Bad Beats segment, but look for the Cougars to win big and for the hype train to keep on rolling for another week.
BYU 45-17 Texas State.