Baylor football coach Dave Aranda has visited Provo and BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium before.

And he has never forgotten it.

For the first time since he was the defensive coordinator on a Utah State staff and team that fell 6-3 to BYU in 2012, Aranda will return to Provo when the No. 25 Cougars host the No. 10 Bears Saturday in the only college football game this weekend pitting ranked teams.

“They are great at welcoming you at the beginning of the game, and just really (are) kind of a friendly fan base,” Aranda said. “But once you get in, it is packed and it gets loud. … And so I think there is a home field advantage there.”

Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Aranda said for help with adjusting to the late-night game, he will turn to his offensive coordinator, Jeff Grimes, and his offensive line coach, Eric Mateos. They were at BYU in 2020 and coached in many late-night games when Zach Wilson led the Cougars to an 11-1 season under Grimes’ tutelage.

“That’s a whole (new) thing as well, just in your hotel looking at the clock,” Aranda said in a news conference Monday morning in Waco, Texas. “That is a storm that we have to run into, and we have been talking about that and preparing for that, so we will see.”

Monday, BYU football announced a “limited amount” of tickets are still available for Baylor’s first visit to LES since 1984, the year the Cougars won the national championship. Seating capacity is listed as 63,725.

Aranda said the Bears have been preparing for the environment, and the altitude (4,551 feet) since January.

“Just every obstacle that is hard (has been considered),” he said. “Everything that is not easy. Everything that is not comfort, and saying yes to those things.”

After the Bears crushed FCS Albany 69-10 last Saturday at McLane Stadium, Aranda said “it only gets harder from here.” Baylor hosts Texas State next week and begins Big 12 play Sept. 24 at Iowa State.

“What a great opportunity with this next game vs. BYU and Kalani (Sitake) and his team,” Aranda said. “They are playing at a high level, so we are excited for that. I think an opportunity for us again to show what we are about.”

Here are more of Aranda’s comments regarding BYU:

• On what Cougars’ starting QB Jaren Hall brings to the table:

“Great play-action pass thrower. I think he can move in the pocket and create things if things aren’t there. He is going to be one of the better quarterbacks we play all year. The film is impressive in terms of the decisions he makes, the throws that he is able to complete, and really the throws that he doesn’t take. He doesn’t put the team at risk. He was good last year; He’s better now.”

• On what impressed him about BYU’s 50-21 win over USF:

“They are a veteran group. I want to say there are eight guys back on either side of the ball, and then just a lot of experience on top of just that as well. They have been playing for a while. And there is a great physicality about them. I think their size and their physicality really stands out. They play a real physical, kind of old-school type of game. And it is cool to see from the outside.”

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• On how much it helps having Grimes and Mateos there for BYU knowledge:

“Yeah, so there is good feedback from them, just on the experience of playing at night, and what that is like. Obviously, they know the coaches there and there is a good awareness of personalities, and all of it. But you know, I have not worked with Kalani, but I am close to Kalani.

“Kevin Clune (linebackers coach) is on that staff — I am close to him. Ed Lamb, I worked for for two months when I left Delta State and Ron Roberts, prior to going to Hawaii, I was there with Ed at Southern Utah. A lot of those guys, I know, too. We are all a close group.”

• On whether RB Chris Brooks is similar to former BYU RB Tyler Allgeier:

“The Cal transfer they have is physical. It is kind of like, ‘here we go again.’ And he is a physical runner, falls forward, has got good speed and his vision was strong. I think he is a force. The offensive line and their cohesion and their ability to communicate with each other — they have been going at it for awhile, a lot of those guys.”

Cougars on the air

No. 10 Baylor (1-0) at No. 25 BYU (1-0)

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MDT

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Provo, Utah


Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM