BYU football: 3 things to know for Cougars vs Mississippi State

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

BYU football is coming off a big win against Michigan State last week. Now the Cougars set their sights on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

It’s Homecoming week in Provo. Head coach Kalani Sitake has navigated the BYU football team to a 3-3 record through six weeks, and is coming off the biggest win of his head coaching career.

The Cougars have played five Power 5 opponents through their first six games, and have lost their three games by a combined seven points. But, things don’t get easier for the Cougars this week.

Now they play host to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 2-3 on the season, and are coming off a 38-14 shellacking at the hands of Auburn. The last time these two schools played was in 2001, when BYU won 41-38, but lost Luke Staley to an ankle injury. It was the last time Staley suited up for the Cougars.

15 years later, we have the third meeting all time between BYU and MSU, Here are three things to know for BYU football vs Mississippi State.

A BYU win might cost Dan Mullen his job

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems like Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen is on the hot seat.

MSU is below .500 and lost to South Alabama in Week One. The Bulldogs barely got by UMass and fell to LSU.

Some are speculating that Mullen wants out as the MSU head coach, but his performance might force MSU to take care of the problem. He had two weeks to prepare for Auburn, and his team came out and got decimated.

Plus, things don’t get easier for the Bulldogs. After coming to Provo, they play Kentucky and Samford (two likely wins), but then finish with Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss. If MSU falls to BYU, Mullen is staring at a 4-8 season.

Add in the fact that Mullen is making over $3 million this season, and it seems like the writing would be on the wall for a coaching change.

Jamaal Williams can run on the Bulldogs

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

By this point, it’s no secret what makes BYU football go.

It’s Jamaal Williams.

He’s currently the second-leading rusher in the nation, and needs just 64 yards to become BYU’s all-time leading rusher. His 10 rushing touchdowns trails only Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson.

He’s the real deal. And he’ll get his against a SEC defense on Friday.

In many ways, the Michigan State game was Williams’ coming out party on a national level. Now there are articles popping up left and right like “The Best NFL Prospect You Haven’t Heard Of” and “Meet BYU Running Back Jamaal Williams.”

There will be plenty more of these articles next week, after Williams carves up some SEC talent.

Typically, I wouldn’t be so confident. But, Mississippi State is allowing 132 rushing yards per contest. MSU let South Alabama’s lead back to gain 83 yards and allowed 293 rushing yards to UMass.

So the J-Swag Daddy will be able to find yards.

He’s rushed for at least 160 yards in each of BYU’s victories, and I see no reason why he won’t hit that mark on Friday night.

Taysom Hill just needs to manage the game

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

Taysom Hill isn’t a dark horse Heisman candidate. He’s not quite the superstar he once was.

But he’s still a good quarterback. And he’s looking better by the week.

Looking at his final stat line against Michigan State, it doesn’t look like he played particularly well. But when watching the game, it was obvious how well he was playing.

He picked up crucial first downs with his arm and with his legs, and did just enough to get BYU a win. All he needs to do is make four or five big throws a game.

And that doesn’t mean deep balls. That means important throws. Throws that keep a drive going.

Mississippi State is allowing opponents to complete 62 percent of their passes. The Bulldogs are also giving up 237 passing yards per game.

So Hill should be able to move the ball. But at the same time, I would expect just 20-23 pass attempts in the game from Ty Detmer‘s offense. The bell cow, the work horse, the central cog in the offense in Williams. Expect a steady diet of run game with some play action and short passes thrown in.

The Cougars and Bulldogs kickoff at 8:15 p.m. MDT on Friday night in Provo. The game can be viewed on ESPN.