Fresh off a huge road win at Michigan State, BYU welcomes Mississippi State for homecoming in only the second game in Provo versus an SEC opponent. Will BYU overlook the 2-3 Bulldogs as they await Boise State next week, or will the Cougars be hungry for more under the Friday night lights? Here are the Sports Bros’ predictions for tonight’s matchup.
Big Bro: At first glance, Mississippi State looks like a decent, balanced offense. The Bulldogs average a respectable 404 yards per game and have racked up 1043 passing yards and 981 rushing yards. But on closer examination, those numbers are a bit misleading. First, most of those yards came against UMass and South Carolina. Second, MSU’s quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, is also their leading rusher, meaning pretty much the entire offense runs through him. Stopping one guy shouldn’t be too hard for this BYU defense.
As I stated on this week’s podcast recapping the huge win at Michigan State, I’m finally convinced that the Cougars’ offense is for real. While MSU’s defense is giving up only 371 yards (ranked 48th nationally) and 134 rushing yards (ranked 37th nationally) per game, I think Jamaal Williams will be too much for the Bulldogs to handle. I expect MSU to hang with BYU in the first half with some explosive and/or trick plays, but between the late game and the elevation, the BYU rushing attack will eventually take it’s toll.
BYU 31 MSU 14
Little Bro: Everyone knows what BYU is gonna try and do, yet very few have been able to stop it. Jamaal Williams is going to get the touches he needs to be a factor in this game. I fully expect the rushing record to be his before halftime (he’ll have 70+ yards before halftime).
Given that Mississippi State is likely going to key on Jamaal, Taysom Hill needs to have another masterful game. That doesn’t mean he needs to have impressive numbers, but he needs to take control like last week, having full command of the offense and making the plays when the team needs him to. If he can have the leadership on display like last week, I think BYU can win this one easily.
On defense, BYU needs to be disciplined. This Bulldog offense is still searching for a playmaker somewhere. Mobile quarterbacks are always the Cougars Achilles’ heel, however, so the outside edges need to remain sealed. If BYU can get through a porous Bulldog offensive line early and often and get to MSU’s sophomore signal caller, I think that bodes well for BYU.
Overall, I think BYU will come out fast, and wear down the Bulldogs quickly, leaving them out of gas in the fourth quarter. Jamaal gets another 100 yard game and maybe gets over 1000 yards on the season (he needs 136 yards).
BYU 34 MSU 17