Off to their best start in six years and slowly rising up the national rankings, the No. 18, undefeated BYU Cougars look to repeat last year’s dominating performance against the Utah State Aggies Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Favored by three touchdowns at home, quarterback Taysom Hill has the chance to pad his Heisman Trophy resume against a Utah State defense giving up 25.8 points and 334.8 yards per game. The junior has thrown six touchdowns and rushed for another seven, gaining 5.4 yards per carry.
In 2013 in Logan, Hill completed three touchdown passes to receiver Mitch Williams and the Cougars defense forced three turnovers en route to a 31-14 victory. Hill would rush for only 14 yards, which wound up as a season-low, but BYU would total 159 yards on the ground anyway.
However, the Aggies top quarterback Chuckie Keeton tore an ACL during that loss, severely limiting their chances of upending their in-state rival. Though Keeton hasn’t been ruled out after resting up the last two weeks, this year Utah State could send out sophomore Darrell Garretson.
But the Cougars are evidently ready for either quarterback.
“Yeah, we’ve got to be ready for both (quarterbacks),” BYU defensive coordinator Nick Howell said to Deseret News. “Definitely Chuckie’s different than the guy they’re playing now. We’ve got film on both of them. We’re super, super familiar and comfortable with their scheme against our scheme, but there’s a different element there of a different kind of playmaker.”
Garretson’s thrown for 389 yards and three touchdowns in two games this season, and nearly led the Aggie past Arkansas State two weeks ago. Showing the range of his arm, Garretson unleashed an 81-yard bomb to team-leading receiver Hunter Sharp and a 41-yard completion to Ronald Butler for a 14-7 lead before the fourth quarter.
However, despite forcing four Red Wolves turnovers, the Aggies punted on their next four possessions and missed a field goal that would have avoided overtime, falling 21-14.
If the Aggies find some way to keep Hill in the pocket, BYU junior running back Jamaal Williams could bust out his second 100-yard game of the season. Williams lit up Houston for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Start Time: Friday, 10:15 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPN
Prediction: BYU 34, Utah State 10