Welcome to November Cougar fans. It’s been a month since BYU had a road trip and wouldn’t we all like to forget that last one? That undefeated October sure helped.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s Cougars are 6-2 coming off a blowout of FCS opponent Wagner, followed by a bye week, ready to hit the road to the Bay Area.
For this Spartans and Cougars match up, Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News is our featured travel guide member of the hosting teams media. The first thing Jimmy and I talked about was the last game between these schools that took place in San Jose and the Spartans ended up victorious, holding on after a late BYU surge in 2012:
Q: BYU and San Jose State aren’t strangers of opponents with the Spartans winning a close one in 2012. Is this a match up the team and fans are anticipating?
The win in that 2012 season was validation for that team that it wasn’t just having a nice season, it was having a great season (and went on to have arguably its best season as a major college football program). The situation’s a little different now, but this game might even be more important because a win would significantly increase the bowl chances. BYU brought a big and energetic crowd to Spartan Stadium last time, so I think that adds to the anticipation for this one.
Q: How does the San Jose State program feel with a match up like this being so late in the season?
It’s not ideal, because you’d always prefer to not break away from conference play at this point, especially to face a tough team like BYU. But for a program like SJSU that struggles to draw crowds, it’s essentially the price of doing business to get attractive opponents like BYU at home. IT’s the fourth time in five years San Jose State has had a game like this on the schedule — it was Navy in 2011 and 2013 and BYU in 2012 and again this year. Both are pretty similar programs that bring a nice following, so it’s worth it.
Q: Tyler Ervin has been on of the best backs in the country this year. What effect will he have on this stout Cougar run defense?
BYU will have to deal with his speed. He’s fast no matter who you are (Auburn had issues with him the past two years). IN the past, he served as a decent deep option in the passing game too, and it would probably be nice to integrate him there considering last week’s injury to top receiver Tyler WInston, but the deep ball isn’t necessarily QB Kenny Potter’s strong suit. But BYU will see him get the ball a ton and he’s slippery and if given a crease, he can take it the distance.”
Q: Do you feel BYU belongs in a power-five conference?
That’s rough because I think geography works against them. The Pac-12 would work from that vantage point, but I’m not sure I see that conference expanding any time soon.
Q: What are your thoughts on the BYU program as a whole?
They’re a team that’s almost always worth watching, is always going to be competitive and one of the better brands in college football.
Q: Cougar fans may not necessarily be strangers to the Bay Area but what are some activities on or around gameday that you would suggest and recommend to them?
Depending on how far they want to drive, there’s plenty to do, especially if they stick around for the weekend after the game. Of course, San Francisco is about an hour north and that has plenty to offer. THe Monterey area is an hour south and has some great dining and beaches. Santa Cruz is another great beach town about 40 minutes away. Traffic coming back to San Jose from any of those could be challenging on game night, so save those for the weekend an give yourself plenty of time.
Q: Are there any tailgating traditions at San Jose State?
Not particularly, it’s your fairly standard tailgate. The band will filter through the area to play and they do ban alcohol in the parking lot after kickoff to mitigate the issue of those that tend to stay in the parking lot instead of coming inside.
Q: What are some local food spots that you would suggest the traveling BYU fans not miss out on?
For something a littler nicer, Santana Row isn’t far away and has tons of good options with a nice atmosphere. La Victoria’s is a phenomenal burrito shop that has a location on Santa Clara St. and right near campus (which is about a mile north of the stadium) on San Carlos Street. Use the orange sauce and bring a bottle home with you. Ike’s Place is a tremendous Bay Area sandwich chain that has a downtown San Jose location, right by the aforementioned La Vic’s (as it’s almost always called).
Q: Is there anything else you would suggest or recommend for the traveling Cougar fans?
If you’re driving to the game, make sure you give yourselves plenty of time to get in and get parked. This will likely be the biggest crowd thus far this season for San Jose State and traffic can get backed up into the lots for the higher attendance games. Showing up just an hour before the game could create some trouble. If you’re staying downtown and close to the campus, there’s a shuttle that runs back and forth to the stadium that can be easily utilized at 10th and San Salvador streets near the dorm buildings.
Cougar fans sure are familiar with awful traffic getting to and from games. Sounds like this one won’t be any different than what we’re all used to.
Thanks again to Jimmy Durkin for being featured for this edition of the 2015 BYU Fan Travel Guide. Be sure to check him out on twitter @Jimmy_Durkin, and definitely grab one of those burritos. From his endorsement it sounds like they may be worth the trip alone.
Only one left after this week’s late match up between the Spartans and Cougars, which takes place on Friday night at 9:30 Mountain Time.
follow Jimmie on twitter @CheshSports