clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Big 12 dress rehearsal? First stop ... Waco

Still stinging from a disappointing loss to Boise State, BYU travels to play an upstart Baylor team

A nearly empty McLane Stadium is seen minutes before kickoff between Iowa State and Baylor in on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Waco, Texas.
A nearly empty McLane Stadium is seen minutes before kickoff between Iowa State and Baylor in on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Waco, Texas. The Cougars be joining the Bears’ Big 12 league beginning in 2023.
Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press
This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

BYU’s task after losing to Boise State is to make its first true road trip out of the state to Big 12 country to take on a 5-1 Baylor team. This is what Cougar football life will be like in two years when the Cougars join a Power Five conference.

The 5-1 Cougars are smarting after the home-field upset to the Broncos, but players and coaches say the determination is there to get back on the winning track, starting with this road trip.

It won’t be an easy task. Baylor blew out West Virginia last week and is a well-disciplined, explosive team that features a stingy defense and an offense coached by former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and Eric Mateos. The Cougars will see a lot of run-pass-option plays and the same blocking scheme deployed in Provo the past few years. It will be like playing a mirror image of BYU’s own offense.

Cougar Insider’s predictions

Question of the week: Should BYU’s game at Baylor in Waco, Texas, be a dress rehearsal for Big 12 membership?

Jay Drew: BYU’s football game at Baylor on Saturday won’t necessarily be an audition for the Big 12, considering that the Cougars have already been invited to join that Power Five conference in 2023. However, it is still ultra-important for BYU to make a good impression, because already that is developing into one of the many storylines for this nonconference matchup at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Several Texas-based reporters have already asked BYU coach Kalani Sitake and a couple of Cougars about the game’s importance in that regard. Perception is reality in many cases, and the Cougars cannot afford to go to Waco and lay another egg, like they did last week in that turnover-filled loss to unranked Boise State.

This one is big. It will be talked about plenty the next year and a half, assuming it is the only Big 12 opponent the Cougars play until they are officially members. For their part, Big 12 coaches such as Baylor’s Dave Aranda and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy are already praising the addition of BYU.

Now’s the time for the Cougars to prove them right.

Prediction: Baylor 34, BYU 21.

Dick Harmon: This will be an interesting matchup because it is against a ranked Baylor team with BYU connections. But it will also be a test of a theory I have about this team. When the Cougars have a hard challenge or something to prove, like in the opener in Las Vegas and the games against ASU and Utah, it seems they play with an edge. In the games against South Florida and Utah State, it appeared they played just enough to win and get the job done because they were simply superior. Against Boise State, the very worst thing about the Cougar approach to that game — even if players say they worked hard all week — was the numbers 79 and 42. Those represent the 51-17 Cougar beatdown of Boise State in the previous two years; last year in Boise and the 2019 BYU win in Provo 38-25 with third-string quarterback Baylor Romney. Those back-to-back wins gave the team a false sense of security, whether they want to admit it or not. Boise State was just the opposite. They were the aggressors, hungry, eager and motivated.

BYU must get its aggressiveness back, especially in the trenches against Baylor, or it will be a very long Saturday afternoon in Texas. BYU has to play motivated and hungry again. That it is in Texas, against a ranked Baylor team, on national television and after an embarrassing loss at home might just do that. But will it be enough? We will know in the first quarter when the trench warfare begins as to who is the most physical.

Prediction: Baylor 31, BYU 27.

Cougar tales

BYU lost to Boise State because of four turnovers. That tally is actually six if you count two fourth-down tries that failed and gave the Broncos the ball. Here is a list of our coverage and commentary of that game:

  • Blame BYU aplenty but Boise State was inspired (Dick Harmon)
  • Who is to blame for the BYU loss to Boise State (Jay Drew)
  • Jaren Hall laments BYU turnovers (Jay Drew)
  • Three takeaways from BYU loss to BSU (Brandon Judd)
  • BYU emphasis this week is ball security (Jay Drew)

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers:

A “D” grade is fair. BYU lacked the intensity they had against Utah and Arizona State, plus, they shot themselves in the foot with careless turnovers.

BYU needs to refocus, get their intensity back, and protect the ball better and they’ll be fine.

The Baylor game will tell us a lot about the resolve of this BYU team.

— BlueCoug

Well, here they are all out in force. All of our favorite Utah posters trying to rain on BYU’s Big 12 invite parade. Now, they are so happy that BYU lost and Utah beat the big bad USC. With the hate, ‘that is bad for the soul by the way,’ they try to tear down all things BYU. Has to be due to the big-time chest pumping from the win over USC. It was a good win. But, I do need to remind you, USC FIRED their coach I think three weeks into the season. Yes, it was a bonehead decision. Why? most college players love their coaches, and college teams fall apart when the head coach gets canned during the season. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, this holds true. Plus, Utah has an exceptional coach, who had two weeks to prepare. When Kyle has two weeks to prepare for a team, he is generally up to the challenge. So it was really no surprise that Utah won. You all might want to chill because you have the Sun Devils coming up, and one thing is for sure, they are better than the Trojans this year.

— I Bleed Blue

Up next

Oct. 14 | 8 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. Loyola Marymount | @Los Angeles, California

Oct. 15 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. BYU alumni | @Provo

Oct. 15 | TBA | Cross-country | FSU Invitational | @Tallahassee, Florida

Oct. 15 | TBA | Cross-country | Nuttycombe Meet | @Madison, Wisconsin

Oct. 16 | 1 pm | Women’s volleyball | vs. Pepperdine | @Malibu, California

Oct. 16 | 1:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Baylor | @Waco, Texas