Whether or not Boise State and Brigham Young ever play in the same conference. There are thousands of Cougar fans in the Boise Metro area, and despite the early, midweek TV game, there will be a fair number of Boise State fans at the game in Provo.
It may be high time for a little indoctrination of Bronco fans who have not been steeped in the culture surrounding Brigham Young University, so here's a short list of things to know.
The "WYE" isn't a freeway interchange in Boise, it's a nickname for BYU.
LES is short for LaVell Edwards Stadium, not the place you get your tires changed.
Ease up on the "True Blue fan" nickname and all things blue, BYU uses similar phrases in their own program.
In case you aren't a rabid college football fan, give BYU credit for making the most anti-BCS noise of any midmajor team… in some ways, the "Y" started this battle.
Fans who go to the game in Provo need to be aware that the "Popcorn Popping" song that the BYU band plays (and some fans just jump up at random all over the place) is an LDS children's song and shouldn't be taken too seriously.
This year's BYU team is not your typical BYU football squad, with an offense on steroids and nearly no defense-- it's quite the opposite. BYU has struggled offensively in many games this season, and the Cougar defense has been far superior to what has been fielded in past years. Since last season, a new defensive coordinator, Bronco Mendenhall, was brought over from the University of New Mexico. The schemes are different, and confusing for opponents' offenses to deal with. So what we have in this week's game is the high-powered Bronco offensive unit matched up with a defensive-oriented team. The BYU defensive line is adequate, but the BYU secondary is one of the best in the MWC. That brings a matchup of a highly accurate Bronco QB against a BYU secondary who is hungry for the interception. It is really impossible to predict what will happen when the Bronco receivers match up with the Cougar DBs in different schemes; anything could happen.
BYU special teams are good, the kick and punt return teams are not as explosive as Boise State's but the Cougar kicking game is one of the best in the nation, with kicker Matt Payne having another stellar year. Advantage on returns goes to the Broncos, but Payne's kicking will make the returns deeper and far more difficult than in prior games this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cougars have been inconsistent. Head coach Gary Crowton has experimented with the offense in some games by benching QB Matt Berry, but the game stats clearly show that Berry is the best QB on the BYU roster. In the UNLV game last week (a close comeback victory in OT for the "Y",) Crowton handed over offensive play calling to co-offensive coordinator (and former BYU QB) Robbie Bosco. The Bosco scheme was to use primarily a no-huddle offense with 3 or 4 formations in an effort to keep the UNLV defense guessing. The Cougar offense didn't light it up in this game, but it stayed close and came back to win, so the change was successful enough. We may see this kind of offense Thursday, or we may see one of several other schemes used by BYU in the past 2 years. In any event the Bronco coaching staff is going to have its hands full in the film room, analyzing what is possible and likely and must do so in the compressed time frame available before Thursday.
So what say the pundits? The early line in the game is BSU by 6 or 7. Coupled with the Home field advantage in the Y's column, that would be a prediction of the Broncos winning, but not by a landslide. It is difficult to make good predictions, because of these factors:
- The short week… does it favor the home team?
The Broncos are on the road, but it's such a short trip, maybe as easy than playing at Nevada as far as is concerned.
- National TV coverage: will QB Ryan Dinwiddie go on a tear, as he has in past ESPN games?
- Will the BYU offense show up for this game?
- Will the BYU defense be able to control the Bronco offense?
- Will the Broncos' first visit to LES in Provo be a factor?
- Other than in the Oregon State game, what other really good defensive
teams have the Broncos faced?
And most important of all:
- Will Ryan Dinwiddie be in his "zone" for this game, and will the Bronco receiving corps and running backs be up to the task when paired up against the BYU defense? This matchup is clearly the key to the game.
This should be a really good game. Bronco fans shouldn't miss this one, whether they have tickets or will be watching on ESPN.