Did you know that San Jose State leads the all-time series 9-5? As usual, that nugget is courtesy of CougarStats.com. Of course, they’ve only met once since I was born, and that was a 1998 shoot-out in Provo. A ton has changed since then for both programs. So, as usual, I’ve got some questions and answers about the
1. Just how badly will BYU beat SJSU?
I know that a lukewarm 3-2 start and Big 12 expansion talk have Cougar fans at DEFCON 1, but this team isn’t horrible, and SJSU is. I know the sportswriter cliché is “Look out, the Spartans have won two in a row!”, but they beat two other bad teams in Colorado State and New Mexico State.
Football Outsiders has SJSU ranked at No. 87 and BYU at No. 55. That’s like the difference between LSU and TCU, so let’s not oversell the Spartans. Anything can happen, but the Cougars are likely to cruise in this one by several TDs.
2. Who will start at QB? Will both Heaps and Nelson play?
The BYU coaching staff is silent on this issue, but I would be shocked if Riley Nelson doesn’t get the start and most (if not all) of the snaps. He proved it on the field. And as Greg Wrubell said on this week’s podcast, this is a results business, and Heaps has stunk in 2011.
3. Is the BYU defense good or not?
This unit can look very good and then very bad. After giving up a ton of yards to Utah State in the first three quarters, the Cougar D slammed the door on the last two Aggie drives. They have also looked dominant in stretches against Ole Miss, Texas and UCF, while looking terrible against Utah and in stretches against Texas and UCF.
I think the answer is that the BYU defense is good, but has some weaknesses against mobile QBs and big RBs. They will look really good against the Spartans.
4. Will the BYU rushing game find it’s groove against the Spartans?
Coming into the season, I thought the BYU rushing game would be very good, better than last year. OC Brandon Doman talked about a play-action based passing scheme, and I believed that three experienced and talented RBs would help open up the BYU pass offense.
SJSU is 95th in the country against the run, and their defense is 87th overall. This could be what the doctor ordered to get JJ DiLuigi, Quezada and Kariya going. But let’s not sugar coat this; the team is only averaging 3.1 YPC, and Quezada is under 3.
5. Will anyone still be awake when this game ends?
As someone who lives in the Central Time Zone, I’m not thrilled about the 9:15 CDT start. If it’s 41-10 in the middle of the third quarter, I make no promises about staying awake. I can guarantee my wife will be out before halftime.
And I think this one is a snoozer. And boy does my blood pressure need a snoozer in BYU’s favor.
Prediction: 41-17, BYU.