No. 14 BYU makes rare trek to Georgia Southern

Rising in the one poll that matters could be setting BYU up for an at-large spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. But only if the No. 14 Cougars take care of business the rest of the way.

At 8-2, the Cougars make a rare trek on Saturday to Statesboro, Ga., where they will face Georgia Southern for the first time.

BYU has beaten five Power 5 opponents this season to build the resume of a NY6 bowl candidate if they finish in the Top 10.

BYU can only go one step at a time. This week, that means not tripping up against the Eagles (3-7) who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 38-30 victory over Texas State.

The Cougars are coming off a bye week following a 59-14 victory over Idaho State in their home finale. BYU enters Saturday’s game carrying a three-game winning streak.

“The approach last week was to stay on top of everything,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We didn’t take a complete week off. We didn’t take total rest, but we are rested.”

BYU is seemingly hitting its stride on offense at the right time.

The Cougars are averaging 647.0 yards and 62.5 points per game over their last two games. They are generated 8.1 yards per play during that stretch.

Related: Top 10 college football quarterbacks – Bryce Young sets the stage

Tyler Allgeier and Jaren Hall have been the catalysts behind that offensive surge. Hall has thrown for 1,995 yards and 16 touchdowns in eight games. Allgeier has rushed for 1,167 yards in 10 games and leads the nation with 17 rushing touchdowns.

Sitake credits mentally tough players enduring a two-game losing streak and finding ways to elevate their performance on both sides of the ball.

“Our players are always looking to get better,” Sitake said. “They can be hard on themselves. I try to help them focus on improvement rather being embarrassed about the loss. We want to improve and get better.”

Georgia Southern got back into the win column behind strong special teams play. The Eagles returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and then blocked a field goal to set up another touchdown – a 25-yard strike from Justin Tomlin to Beau Johnson that put Georgia Southern ahead for good at 31-24.

Tomlin threw for 108 yards and a touchdown in relief of Cam Ransom after Ransom injured his shoulder early in the second half. Ransom totaled 121 passing yards and one touchdown before going down with an AC sprain.

“I thought Cam came in and did exactly what we thought he would do,” Interim coach Kevin Whitley told the Statesboro Herald. “He had a lot of energy and threw the ball extremely well. When he went down, I was holding my breath because I could see on his face he was in pain. I thought Justin came in and did a great job.”

Georgia Southern is the fourth Sun Belt opponent BYU has played in the last two seasons. The Cougars went 2-1 against Sun Belt teams in 2020, beating Texas State and Troy at home and losing to Coastal Carolina on the road.

–Field Level Media