Keeping pace with BYU has been a difficult task for Idaho State. And this version of the Cougars might be the most explosive to date.
This is the reality ahead for Idaho State in Provo, Utah on Saturday.
BYU (7-2) is hosting the Bengals for the fourth time since leaving the Mountain West Conference in 2011. Idaho State lost all three previous games by an average margin of 43.6 points and is 0-6 all-time against the Cougars.
BYU posted a record-setting 66-49 victory over Virginia last week. The Cougars and the Cavaliers combined for 1,322 total yards and 115 points — setting a LaVell Edwards Stadium record. BYU totaled 734 yards and finished with at least 300 passing yards and 300 rushing yards in the same game for the first time since 2005 and only the fourth time in school history.
“Defensive coaches don’t really like this game, but it felt like an old-school BYU type of game,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
Tyler Allgeier and Jaren Hall have taken turns providing fuel for the Cougars’ roaring offense. Both players had career bests against Virginia — Allgeier rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns while Hall threw for 349 yards and three TDs.
Allgeier currently leads the nation with 16 rushing touchdowns, ranks third in total rushing yards (1,127) and is fifth in total all-purpose yards (1,231).
Hall’s evolution as a quarterback has been a difference maker in recent weeks. Since coming back from a rib injury, he has had three 300-yard passing games in his last four games. Coupled with his natural mobility, Hall is making it tough for other teams to game plan against him.
“He seems to know where to go with the ball no matter what the defense does,” Sitake said.
Stopping a resurgent BYU offense keyed by Hall and Allgeier offers a major hurdle to a beleaguered Idaho State team taking a pause from Big Sky Conference play this week. The Bengals (1-7) are tied for 99th in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing 33.75 points per game. They are 112th among FCS teams in total defense, yielding 448.9 yards per contest.
Idaho State has had issues on both sides of the ball. The Bengals have mustered more than 21 points in a game just once this season.
Stepping out of league play this late in the season to face a Top 25 opponent isn’t ideal, but it offers Idaho State a rare spotlight and chance to build positive momentum for next season.
“You just got to switch your mind frame,” Bengals coach Rob Phenicie said. “You go in to compete, you go in to win. But you have something more to play for in conference play.”
BYU has not lost to an FCS opponent since the NCAA created Division 1-AA in 1978. The Cougars have not suffered a defeat to a current member of the Big Sky Conference since falling 12-0 to Montana in 1959.
–Field Level Media