NCAA Friday Night Football: BYU/Louisiana Tech Preview

by Alec McMordie

Two unbeaten teams face off on Friday night to kick off the fifth week of the College Football with Louisiana Tech traveling to Provo to play Brigham Young.

Louisiana Tech has been one of the football programs most impacted by COVID-19. They did not get any spring practices to help settle the quarterback competition with four quarterbacks competing to replace the last year's Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in J’Mar Smith. They were also breaking in nine new starters on defense for a new defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs then had to delay the start of their season in the fall when 38 players tested positive for COVID. Louisiana Tech had rearranged their schedule to move up their September 26th date with Baylor to September 12th, but that game was canceled, with their COVID outbreak.

The Bulldogs were able to get their season started the next Saturday, where they defeated Southern Mississippi on the road by a 31-30 score. Skip Holtz’s team followed that victory up last week with a 66-38 victory at home over Houston Baptist. Senior quarterback Luke Anthony, a graduate transfer from Abilene Christian, has played after winning the starting quarterback job. He has accumulated 463 passing yards with eight touchdown passes in two games while completing 59% of his passes. He leads a Louisiana Tech offense that is scoring 48.5 PPG while averaging 461.5 total YPG.

However, the Bulldogs rebuilt defense remains a work in progress after they allowed an FCS program to gain over 500 yards against them last week. Louisiana Tech is allowing 34.0 PPG along with 447.0 Yards-Per-Game.

BYU opened its season with a 55-3 victory at Navy on September 7th. When the Midshipmen’s head coach Ken Niumatalolo later admitted that his fall practices had limited contact given COVID concerns, the quality of that victory was put into question. BYU had to wait three weeks to prove themselves, but they made a statement last Saturday night with a 48-7 blowout victory at home over Troy.

The Cougars may have their most potent offensive attack in head coach Kalani Sitake’s five seasons with the program. They have scored in each of their eight quarters so far this season to put up 103 total points. Their 51.5 PPG scoring average is 2nd in the nation, and they are averaging 622.0 total YPG. Junior QB Zach Wilson is completing 78% of his passes while averaging 312.0 passing YPG. This offense faced a significant challenge before the season started when their lone returning starter, tight end Matt Bushman who bypassed the NFL to return for his senior season, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Wide receivers Gunner Romney and Dax Milne have emerged with 19 combined receptions accounting for 447 yards in their first two games to give this offense downfield weapons they have not had in years.

The BYU defense has also looked good by allowing only ten combined points along with just 330 total yards in their first two games. The Cougars are allowing 96.0 passing YPG while holding opposing quarterbacks to complete just 56.8% of their passes. But be careful about reading too much into the pass defense numbers after two games. Navy only threw the ball eight times in their opening game with their spread triple-option offensive. The Trojans are primarily a passing offense, but they only gained 162 passing yards on 36 attempts last week.

BYU is a 24-point favorite at BookMaker with the total set at 59. The game will be on ESPN2 with the kickoff slated for 9 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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