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Pre-snap read: Cougars and Cowboys renew rivalry in a place where ghosts of BYU's past glory reside

Tanner Mangum_W1_8405

BYU Quarterback Tanner Magnum completes a pass during practice on Monday morning. The BYU Football Team will take on the University of Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday December 21st. 

December 19, 2016

Photo by Jaren Wi
Tanner Mangum_W1_8405 BYU Quarterback Tanner Magnum completes a pass during practice on Monday morning. The BYU Football Team will take on the University of Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday December 21st. December 19, 2016 Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU © BYU PHOTO 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322
Jaren Wilkey/BYU, Jaren Wilkey/BYU

Pre-snap read: Cougars and Cowboys renew rivalry in a place where ghosts of BYU's past glory reside

This will be the first time BYU and Wyoming have played each other in football since 2010. The two teams have had some entertaining battles over the years and it is fitting that this old WAC/MWC rivalry should be renewed in San Diego in a stadium where BYU legends have been made. Here's a look at the 2016 BYU football team's chances of making its own mark there.

When BYU has the ball

Despite having Tanner Mangum at quarterback, do not expect BYU to air it out any more than usual. The coaching staff has hinted that BYU's offensive game plan will remain the same as it has been all season, with a heavy emphasis on the run. That is not necessarily a bad thing considering Wyoming has a thin defensive line and is weak against the run.

Wyoming is only marginally better in pass defense. While BYU may not pass the ball more often, having Mangum at quarterback could mean more explosive pass plays, especially considering Wyoming has been particularly vulnerable to the big pass play.

With a healthy Jamaal Williams and a large offensive line, BYU should be able to impose its will in the run game against an outmanned Wyoming defense. That should also open up the play-action pass game for more opportunities downfield.

When Wyoming has the ball

Wyoming boasts one of the top running backs in the nation in Brian Hill who averages 135.9 yards rushing per game (6th nationally) along with 21 touchdowns and 1,767 yards rushing (both 4th nationally). But if Hill struggles, Wyoming struggles. Four of Wyoming's five losses have come when Hill rushes for less than 100 yards. Fortunately, BYU has a near-elite run defense.

Wyoming has a gunslinger at quarterback in sophomore Josh Allen. The tall, lanky Allen has a cannon for an arm as he can definitely get the ball downfield. BYU's pass defense has been less than stellar this year and could be exposed again in this game. However, BYU has an opportunistic defense that creates a lot of turnovers while Allen has shown a penchant for making big mistakes in critical moments.

Expect Wyoming to put some points on the board, but also look for BYU to cause some turnovers that will give its offense some short fields.

When the ball is kicked

Wyoming is solid in the punt game and very good on kickoff returns. But the rest of the special teams units are below average. Wyoming struggles on punt returns and kickoff coverage. If the game comes down to a game-winning field goal attempt for Wyoming, its fans will have to sweat it out as kicker Cooper Rothe has made just 65 percent of his field goal attempts.

Prediction

On paper, BYU is the better team. BYU should not be overlooking Wyoming since it has known it will be playing in this bowl game against a MWC opponent for most of the year. There could be a lot of scoring in this one, but look for BYU to pull away in the fourth quarter as they wear down Wyoming physically.

BYU 34 Wyoming 24