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3 takeaways from No. 15 BYU’s expected rout of Idaho State

Brigham Young Cougars defensive lineman Pepe Tanuvasa (45) is tackled by Idaho State Bengals quarterback Mikey Zele (14) after making an interception.
Brigham Young Cougars defensive lineman Pepe Tanuvasa (45) is tackled by Idaho State Bengals quarterback Mikey Zele (14) after making an interception as the BYU Cougars and Idaho State Bengals play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

No. 15 BYU was never seriously challenged as it wrapped up the home slate of its 2021 season with a lopsided 59-14 win over FCS opponent Idaho State on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

While the second half left a bit of a blah feeling, the Cougars built a strong lead in the first half en route to the win.

Here are three takeaways from the victory:

Offense played a mostly clean first half to open a big lead

The bulk of BYU’s offensive stars did not see the field after halftime, after the Cougars rolled to a 42-7 halftime lead. BYU scored touchdowns on six of its first seven possessions, the only blemish being a lost fumble.

Jaren Hall had a brilliant game in just two quarters, completing 20 of 25 passes for 298 yards and a career-best four touchdowns. He also ran for 13 yards and a touchdown.

Puka Nacua also had a big game, finishing with six catches for 120 yards and a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Tyler Allgeier, who has carried the BYU offense the past two weeks in crucial Power Five wins over Washington State and Virginia, did not play a lot, but in limited touches, he ran for 35 yards and the team’s first touchdown — on a fourth-down carry — and caught a 46-yard pass that sparked another touchdown drive.

BYU’s defense kept Idaho State in check

Before Idaho State’s final drive — one in which the Bengals drove 82 yards before getting stopped on a fourth down inside the BYU 10 — the Cougars had allowed just 156 yards of total offense.

That came one week after BYU’s defense dealt with an explosive Virginia offense that scored 35 points in the second quarter alone, though the Cougars held the Cavaliers to just seven points after halftime.

With BYU using a variety of defenders, it was a good effort holding Idaho State to just two scores, both of which came on short fields — one after a BYU turnover, and another after a long kickoff return.

The Cougars also forced a pair of turnovers — Pepe Tanuvasa picked off a pass deep in ISU territory in the first quarter, and Matthew Criddle did the same in the third quarter.

BYU had chances to play some younger talent, and it wasn’t always smooth

Several young Cougars had good games, led by freshman wide receiver Keanu Hill, who played a lot during both halves. He finished with four receptions for 92 yards and a second-quarter touchdown catch in which he fought through a tackle attempt to score from 13 yards out.

Hill then made a big play on special teams in the fourth quarter, blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.

Criddle had a nice day on defense, finishing with five tackles, his interception at the Idaho State 23 and a pass breakup.

The second half was a bit rough, though, particularly on offense. While BYU outscored Idaho State 17-7, the Cougars played a bit sloppy at times in the final two quarters, punting three times, turning the ball over on downs and losing a fumble.

Two young running backs did have a chance to put up some numbers, even as the backups generally struggled to move the ball after halftime: Jackson McChesney had a team-high 43 yards on 10 carries in his first real action of the year, while Hinckley Ropati had 15 yards on four carries, his first carries as a Cougar.