BYU football: Three things to know for Boise State

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

BYU football is coming off a big, double-overtime victory against Mississippi State in week seven. Now, on short rest, the Cougars travel north to take on the Boise State Broncos. Here are three things you need to know.

BYU football now sits at 4-3 on the season and the Cougars are staring at a road matchup with undefeated Mountain West foe Boise State.

Last season, BYU football defeated Boise State in Provo 35-20 behind Tanner Mangum‘s late touchdown to Mitchell Juergens. The Broncos decimated the Cougars in 2014, 55-30, marking the final game of the Nick Howell defensive play-calling era.

This game is the first against a ranked opponent for the Cougars, with the Broncos being No. 14 in the AP Poll.

So let’s get into it. Here are three things you need to know for Cougars v Broncos, 2016 edition.

The Broncos don’t have a tough schedule

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports /

I know, you can only play the teams on your schedule.

I know, Boise State’s made a name for itself by breaking the whole ‘they haven’t played anyone’ argument.

But, those things being said, the Broncos don’t have a real tough schedule. In fact, it looks more like a cupcake.

Their toughest game yet was a Week Two matchup with Washington State. But at the time, Wazzu was coming off a loss to Eastern Washington. They’ve since gone on to defeat Stanford and UCLA, but early in the season they were a bit of a mess.

Outside of that game, the Broncos have played Oregon State Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah State, New Mexico and Colorado State. Not exactly a murderer’s row of a schedule.

The BYU matchup is easily their toughest game this year.

On the flipside, BYU’s tough schedule has been well documented. I still think the Broncos are a really strong football team, but maybe the Cougars’ tough schedule can give them an upper hand on Thursday night.

No rest  for the weary

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

This game marks the third in 12 days for the Cougars. For the Broncos, it’s the third game in 13 days.

That might level the playing field some, but it’s hard to imagine that the two teams won’t be effected by fatigue.

The Cougars have been relatively healthy this season, so it’s obvious that strength and conditioning coach Nu’u Tafisi is doing something right. I would imagine that practice this week won’t be too strenuous, because Thursday night will provide more than enough physicality for the week.

The Broncos are allowing just 19 points per game, but they’re allowing a fair amount of yardage.

BSU’s opponents are averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 229 passing yards per game. The Broncos bend, but get stops when they need to, holding opponents to just a 34 percent conversion rate on third down. BSU plays physically and likes to attack. A potentially worn down BYU offensive line will have a tough task on Thursday night.

With a win, BYU football might get ranked

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

I don’t want to jump the gun here. I’m not sure if BYU goes to Boise and comes away with a victory.

But, if the Cougars pull it off, they should find themselves at the tail end of the AP Top 25.

Three losses to Power 5 schools (including undefeated West Virginia and one loss Utah) by a combined seven points is nothing to shake a stick at.

Voters are getting smarter. You can have three losses and still find yourself ranked (just ask Ole Miss).

I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, but it certainly looks like the path is there for BYU.

Not to mention, a win in Boise also means a likely 9-3 finish entering bowl season. Kalani Sitake might have a 10 win season in his first year at the helm.

Again, it’s tough to play ‘what if?’ but it’s certainly an exciting time for fans of BYU football.

The Cougars and Broncos kick off at 8:15 p.m. MDT on ESPN.