Idaho (1-8) at BYU (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 10:15 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,725) -- Provo, Utah. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Idaho 1-3, BYU 4-1. Away Record: Idaho 0-5, BYU 1-3. Neutral Record: Idaho 0-0, BYU 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho 1-3, BYU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: Heading back to the football field after a break in the schedule, the BYU Cougars entertain the Idaho Vandals at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah on Saturday night.
The Cougars have been somewhat enigmatic this season, unable to string together three straight games of consistent play. The team most recently faced off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the road on Oct. 27 and managed to deliver a 41-17 victory. The triumph served to snap a two-game slide by the team in which it fell to nationally-ranked Oregon State (42-24) but actually kept pace with Notre Dame (17-14).
With this outing being the 100th in the career of BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall at the school, the Cougars can celebrate with a victory that would make them bowl eligible for the eighth straight season.
As for the Vandals, members of the Western Athletic Conference, they've won just a single game in nine tries thus far and have already fired head coach Robb Akey because of the disappointing effort. Last weekend, Idaho was again on the losing end of a 42-13 final versus San Jose State at home as offensive coordinator Jason Gesser has assumed the head coaching role for the time being.
In a series that dates back to 1953, these two teams are tied at two games apiece after BYU delivered a convincing 42-7 win over Idaho in Provo last season.
Not only did the Vandals dismiss their former head coach, they also kicked starting quarterback Dominique Blackman off the team for disciplinary reasons which left Logan Bushnell as the starter against San Jose State last week. Bushnell managed to throw a 12-yard TD pass to Najee Lovett to kick off the contest, but the remaining points for Idaho came from kicker Trey Farquhar who knocked through field goals of 41 and 33 yards in the third quarter.
Bushnell finished the outing 14-of-29 for 196 yards and a score, but was sacked five times and had a pass picked off.
Slated as the starter for this week, Bushnell takes over an offense that is dead last among all 120 teams ranked in the Football Bowl Subdivision, producing a mere 15.7 ppg. Three times this season the Vandals have been held to a touchdown or less as the rushing attack generated only 80.6 ypg to rank 117th in the nation this week.
From a defensive standpoint, the news isn't much better for Idaho as the team gives up close to 300 ypg through the air and nearly 500 ypg in total offense, ranking the group tied for 116th in the country. All of those yards have led to a hefty 42.0 ppg and that leaves the Vandals ahead of only two other programs in the FBS (Hawaii and Colorado).
The opposite is true for coach Mendenhall and his bunch as they rank seventh in the country with only 14.3 ppg allowed. Take away Oregon State's scoring burst against BYU and the stats would be even more impressive for the unit. Opponents have gained only 95.8 ypg on the ground and 167.8 ypg through the air which means few teams have had any real success against the Cougars.
Riley Nelson, who was coincidentally knocked out of the game last season versus Idaho with a rib and lung injury, is back under center for the Cougars as they try to move to 9-1 following bye weeks under coach Mendenhall. Named to the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award Watch Lists for 2012, Nelson has completed just under 60 percent of his pass attempts for nine touchdowns this season, but he has also tossed 11 interceptions which have proven costly. In the last three games Nelson, who has two outings this season with three picks, has thrown six INTs but just four TDs.
Trying to give Nelson a solid outlet is Cody Hoffman who has registered at least one catch in 28 straight games in order to set the school record. Hoffman, who has 56 grabs for 689 yards and three scores, has the 10th-longest streak in the country.
Moving the ball on the ground is Jamaal Williams who has eight touchdowns on 107 carries and is averaging close to five yards per attempt, not to mention stepping up with 20 receptions for 226 yards and a TD as well.
It doesn't take much analysis to see that Idaho is a team that has almost given up on the season and has lost key components in recent weeks which should make BYU's job that much easier.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 35, Idaho 6
11/07 11:29:43 ET