BYU vs. Wyoming: The Breakdown

BYU sits atop the conference standings at 5-0, and Wyoming is nipping at their heels at 4-2. BYU would grab a share of the conference title with a win tonight. A Wyoming upset would keep the Pokes' championship hopes alive and make things interesting in the Mountain West. The G-man looks at which team has the edge at each position and predicts how he thinks the game will play out.

Quarterback:

Wyoming: The Cowboys are going into the game with redshirt freshman Karsten Sween under center. Sween took over for Jacob Doss during Wyoming's game against Syracuse and has started every game since. Sween has unspectacular numbers. His Wyoming team averages less than 150 yards passing per game.

BYU: John Beck comes in completing over 70% of his passes with a 5 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. He has been named as a semifinalist in just about all national quarterbacks awards and is at the top of his game.

Conclusion: Wyoming is not throwing it around as much as fans have become accustomed to. Beck averages twice as many yards passing as Sween.

Edge: BYU

Running backs:

Wyoming: Sophomore Wynel Seldon will be the primary ball-carrier for the Cowboys. Seldon had what would have been a very productive game last year against BYU were it not for several fumbles given up in key situations. Seldon will share carries with Devin Moore and Joseph Harris.

BYU: BYU will again go with the trio of Curtis Brown, Fui Vakapuna and Matangi Tonga. All have proven effective and serviceable, although all three are awaiting a true breakout game.

Conclusion: Wyoming has been effective running the ball this season, averaging 135.5 yards per game. Wyoming has seemingly eschewed their pass-happy offensive attack for a ball-control game. Meanwhile, BYU is averaging a similar 143.1 yards per game on the ground. The Cougar RBs have been much more effective catching the ball out of the backfield, however.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receivers:

Wyoming: The Poke's main receiver has been Michael Ford who comes in with 52 catches for 571 yards and 4 touchdowns. He will be joined by Tyler Holden and Hoost Marsh who all start in Wyoming's one-back offensive system. Ford is a tall receiver at 6-2 who could cause problems downfield.

BYU: The Cougars will rotate McKay Jacobson, Matt Allen, Zac Collie and Michael Reed. All have very similar numbers having grabbed 18, 21, 18, and 18 respectively.

Conclusion: While the Cougar wideouts often fall lower on the passinf food chain than the tight ends and running backs, the Cowboy wideouts are pretty much the only options Sween looks to. The Cowboy wideouts have 20 more catches between them as a unit with 3 more touchdown grabs than the Cougar wideouts.

Edge: Wyoming

Tight Ends:

Wyoming: The Cowboys will go to their tight end/H-back on occasion. Wade Betschart is their only tight end with a catch so far this season coming in with 14 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.

BYU: Jonny Harline has made more noise as of late and has quietly become the Cougars second-leading receiver with 34 catches and six touchdowns. Daniel Coats has 12 catches and a touchdown to go with Harline's numbers.

Conclusion: BYU's tight ends are featured players in their offense while Wyoming does not use their tight end nearly as much and primarily for blocking.

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line:

Wyoming: The Cowboys start three seniors and two sophomores on their offensive line. It is a unit that has helped mount a solid yet unspectacular running attack. Wyoming gives up a lot of sacks in every game. They have allowed their quarterback to be taken down in the backfield 37 times this season.

BYU: The Cougars have been very good in pass protection but not quite as dominant in run-blocking as many hoped entering the season.

Conclusion: The Cougar offensive front has only allowed Beck to be sacked 10 times so far this year while putting up better running numbers than the Wyoming offensive front.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Line:

Wyoming: The Pokes will start three seniors along their defensive line. It's a group that has helped mount a successful pass rush to the tune of a conference-leading 26 sacks so far this season. They have also held opponents to just 107 yards per game on average.

BYU: The Cougar defensive front has shown steady progress throughout the season as they are getting further and further upfield with their pass rush with each game.

Conclusion: The Wyoming defensive line is more experience and has better numbers albeit against weaker offensive opponents so far this season.

Edge: Wyoming

Linebackers:

Wyoming: The Cowboys start four linebackers in their new 3-4 system which closely mirrors BYU's own defensive system. They will start two juniors, a senior, and a sophomore. Ward Dobbs has been the Cowboy's leading tackler so far this year, playing one of the inside linebacker positions.

BYU: The Cougars have the best linebacker corps in the conference.

Conclusion: Wyoming's group of linebackers are solid while BYU's are the best in the conference.

Edge: BYU

Secondary:

Wyoming: The Pokes start two seniors at safety with two juniors at cornerback. John Wendling, a strong safety, comes in as their leading tackler coming. The group only gives up 184.9 yards per game through the air.

BYU: The Cougar secondary is coming off two consecutive dominant outings, which are proof of their steady improvement throughout the season. They are giving up just under 200 yards per game on average.

Conclusion: The Cowboy secondary started out strong, but teams have been able to find some holes in their coverages as of late. Meanwhile the Cougar coverages have tightened up in recent games.

Edge: BYU

4 predictions

1. The Cougar offense will double what the Wyoming defense gives up on average

While the Cowboy defense has been impressive, they have not played an offense as prolific as BYU with the exception of Boise State. As mentioned, offenses have begun to find holes in the Cowboy defense. MWC cellar-dweller San Diego State putting up 24 points against them just last week. After two relatively conservative performances on the road, the Cougar offense will explode back in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

2. BYU will rush for over 200 yards

Wyoming has a good, quick, but not very physical defense. The Cougar offense has the horses up front to dominate and they will do just that as they look to be the healthiest they've been between offensive linemen and running backs since the bye week.

3. BYU will account for at least 5 sacks

Wyoming's offense gives up a lot of sacks and BYU has begun to show a better pass rush. That is a bad combination for Wyoming. Look for Sween to be on his back a lot tonight.

4. The game won't be as close as a lot of people expect

Wyoming is not as good on the road as they are at home historically. They're overmatched in most key positions and the Cougar offense wants to reestablish itself after two underachieving performances. Furthermore, Wyoming will not have a lot of punch on offense against what has proven to be the best defense in the conference. While many regard the Wyoming defense as tops in the conference, they will not feel the same way following tonight's game.

Top Three

The top three Cougar performers on offense other than John Beck will again be McKay Jacobson, Curtis Brown, and Fui Vakapuna.

Final Score: BYU 45 Wyoming 13

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