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Can the Cowboys get their first victory in Provo since 1987?

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WEEK 4:Wyoming Cowboys (3-1, 1-0 MW) vs. Brigham Young Cougars (2-1)

WHEN: Saturday, September 24—8:15 pm MDT/7:15 pm PDT

WHERE: LaVell Edwards Stadium; Provo, Utah

TV: ESPN2

STREAM: FuboTV: get a seven-day free trial

RADIO: The Wyoming broadcast can be found statewide at affiliates of the cowboy sports netincluding flagship 1240 AM (KFBC) in Cheyenne.

HISTORY OF THE SERIES: Wyoming and BYU have met 78 times previously with the Cougars holding a 45-30-3 lead over the Cowboys.

WEBSITES: BYUCougars.com the official website of BYU Athletics| GoWyo.com the official website for Wyoming Athletics

GAME NOTES (PDF): BYU | Wyoming

SP+ PROJECTION: BYU by 22.4

FEI PROJECTION: BYU by 24.1

PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: BYU 95.46% chance to win (32.68-9.35)

After an upset victory over the Air Force last Friday, Wyoming travels to Provo for the first time since 2010 to take on longtime rival BYU. The Cowboys and Cougars have a long history dating back to 1922 and have played many exciting games including the 1996 WAC title game. The Cougars lead the All-Time Series 45-30 with 3 ties and have won 8 straight games against the Cowboys. The two rivals have only met once since BYU left the Mountain West Conference in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl when BYU beat the Josh Allen-led Cowboys on a rare rainy day in San Diego.

BYU is coming off a frustrating loss to Oregon in Eugene last week and is looking to right the ship against the Cowboys. BYU is led by head coach Kalani Sitake, who has a 50-30 career record as the Cougars’ head coach. Wyoming is coming off a thrilling victory against the Air Force and is looking to earn its first win at Provo since 1987.

Three keys to a cowboy’s victory

1. Make the BYU offense one-dimensional.

BYU is traditionally a high-passing team, however, since Coach Sitake took over, the Cougars have become a much more balanced team on offense. BYU Rushing’s offense has struggled the last two weeks averaging just 72 rushing yards per game the past two weeks, which is considerably less than they had in their Week 1 matchup against USF when the Cougars ran for 312 yards. Christopher Brooks is the Cougars’ leading rusher with 36 carries for 194 yards. Brooks is averaging 12 carries per game for 64 yards. Brooks gets praise from Lopini Katoa, who is averaging 31 yards per game, as well as from quarterback Jaren Hall, who has about 20 yards per game on the ground. BYU’s offense tends to go like the running game goes. The Cougars can beat you through the air, but their offense is better when they can play without running.

The Cowboys largely shut down the nation’s leading running game last week in the Air Force. The Falcons came into the game averaging over 500 rushing yards, and the Cowboys Defense held the Falcons to 171 rushing yards and were able to keep the Falcons off the field. The Cowboys will need a similar performance on defense this week to keep up with BYU.

2. Keep the offense on the field.

As with the keys to victory last week, the Cowboys will need to continue to extend their seasons to be successful. Against the Air Force, the Cowboys came out the door and immediately marched down the field on a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that shaved 7:32 off the clock. The Cowboys will need to start the game similarly and keep BYU’s offense off the field as long as possible. Additionally, BYU’s defense has allowed 17 drives longer than a 3-and-out, and 12 of those have been for touchdowns, with 10 of those 12 for touchdowns. If the Cowboys can continue to capitalize on extended series and shorten the game as much as possible, it will be their best weapon against the Cougars.

3. Open up the passing game.

The biggest X factor in this game is the Cowboys’ passing game. In the game against the Air Force, the Cowboys came out the door throwing the rock and threw 8 passes during the opening drive. The Cowboys got into a rhythm early on, and the passing threat opened up the running game as the game wore on. The Cowboys have been at their best this season when the passing game has been clicking, and Tim Polasek has shown his willingness to call down passing plays that put the Cowboys in situations to succeed. After a poor start to the season against Illinois, Andrew Peasley looks like a completely different quarterback, completing 68.7 percent of his passes for 562 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Cowboys’ signal caller should have a solid game against the Cougars this Saturday and show that he can be as efficient against a bigger team as he has been the last 3 weeks. His leadership has been a big factor in the Cowboys’ comeback after losing to Illinois.

final thoughts

This game means a lot to both teams, but it also means a lot to the state of Wyoming. Of all the original Mountain West members, Wyoming by far has the greatest animosity towards BYU. If you were to ask Wyoming fans in the early 2000s who they considered the Cowboys’ biggest rival, you’d get a 50-50 answer, for fans on the eastern side of the state, the answer would be the state of Colorado, but for most of the western half of the state that answer would be BYU. Speaking as someone who has ties to both schools, I can say that there is no love lost between the two shows.

On Saturday, I expect the Cowboys to have a solid game plan to stop BYU’s running game, but the Cowboys’ secondary will have a harder time keeping up with BYU’s wide receivers. The Cowboys offense will have to be the defense and keep the Cougars off the field, if they can do that, Wyoming will win a thriller.

Prediction

Wyoming 23, BYU 20


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