While this description of Idaho is very similar to where BYU was following its October 8 game against San Jose State, the Vandals also fit the description of BYU's opponent one week later, Oregon State.
As the Vandals come to LaVell Edwards Stadium, they are a team with some momentum building a new identity. In the win over San Jose State one week ago, Idaho came back from a 20-0 first half deficit to win 32-29. The Vandals now have two running backs who have gone over 100 yards in a game (Bailey, 163 vs. San Jose State; Princeton McCarty, 116 vs. New Mexico State). Idaho is now led by a young quarterback, as opposed to senior Brian Reader who was the starter in game one.
Earlier in the week, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he thought this game could be close given the way each team performed against their only common opponent, San Jose State. However, when BYU went to Corvallis and played Oregon State, BYU came away with a comfortable 38-28 win.
The key to this game for BYU will be to control the momentum. If BYU can get the momentum early and then avoid any huge momentum shifts (costly turnovers, dumb mistakes, give up big plays on defense), then BYU should cruise to victory.
Things to watch for:
- Bouncing Back. The last time BYU had a bye week following a loss to TCU was in 2009. The next game was against Wyoming. As you might recall, BYU won 52-0. Max Hall played one of the best games ever by a BYU quarterback. Will BYU bounce back in similar fashion this time?
- "Not like Texas A&M." During the summer, Idaho head coach Robb Akey made headlines with comments to the effect that BYU was not a game he was too concerned about because BYU was not a high caliber opponent like Texas A&M. The Aggies beat Idaho 37-7 on September 17. Idaho only managed 187 yards total offense, while surrendering 517. If BYU is in need of any motivation for this game, trying to better these marks is a good place to start.
- Record Tracker. Cody Hoffman is less than 186 yards away from setting a new BYU single season record for most kickoff return yards (Mike Rigell, 865). With four games to go, Hoffman only needs to average 46.5 yards per game. Hoffman currently averages 24.3 yards per return. At this rate, Hoffman would break the record if he gets two returns in each remaining game.
- Special or Ordinary? The BYU special teams have been exactly that--special--at times during the 2011 season. The punting and kickoffs have been ordinary, if not worse, lately. Which will it be against Idaho?
- Honoring Jordan Pendleton. It was announced this week that senior linebacker Jordan Pendleton suffered a season ending knee injury. Pendleton was a leader on defense. It will be interesting to see if the team does anything to honor him, like the 1996 team did for Itula Mili by placing the number 88 on their helmets after he suffered a knee injury in the WAC Championship game.
All-time Series: Idaho leads 2-1
Last: Idaho won 49-6 (1955)
Streak: Idaho won 2
TIME: 8:15 PM (Mountain Time)
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3.com
RADIO: KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, www.ksl.com