What’s next for BYU after another blowout win, with CFP rankings out soon and no game for 3 weeks?
Four players scored two touchdowns each in No. 8 BYU’s 66-14 blowout win over Northern Alabama
It was a Saturday bagatelle for No. 8 BYU.
It was booked that way and turned out to be just that, a toy game.
North Alabama was always going to be a big-time gimme for BYU, even before COVID-19 rewrote the schedule. True to form, the Cougars raced ahead 49-7 with reserves making appearances before halftime, then coasted to a convincing 66-14 win on Saturday in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Now 9-0 with the first College Football Playoff rankings due out on Tuesday, that became the focus of the weekend for Kalani Sitake’s football team heading into a week without a game. But that could change.
“Whatever, if there is one thing that’s been consistent, we want to play football and get as many games as possible. I have a lot of gratitude for teams that stuck with us like North Alabama and then for teams like Boise State to schedule us.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake
Athletic director Tom Holmoe explained on Saturday via BYUtv that BYU’s place in the CFP standings may determine if and what team BYU may add to the schedule. Right now, the Cougars have one remaining game on Dec. 12 at home against San Diego State — the first-ever December home game in school history.
Holmoe said he will not schedule a game just to add a game — it has to be right and make sense and at this stage of the season he can afford to be more selective because he is not rebuilding a schedule like he was in September. He isn’t enamored with accepting a game on Monday and putting Sitake’s team on the road for the sake of adding to just add.
“Whatever, if there is one thing that’s been consistent, we want to play football and get as many games as possible. I have a lot of gratitude for teams that stuck with us like North Alabama and then for teams like Boise State to schedule us,” Sitake postgame on BYUtv.
If it’s up to star QB Zach Wilson and the headband he displayed on Saturday, he’d like to play any team, any place, any time.
Wilson played just the first half. On his final appearance in the game, he drove the Cougar offense 75 yards in three plays in 57 seconds, using a side-arm flip pass to Kavika Fonua for a 22-yard touchdown to put BYU up 42-7.
That was it for the junior against North Alabama, doing nothing at all to hurt his national profile. He had a few bombs, touch-pass fades to tight end Isaac Rex and a nice display of his skills on a myriad of throws. He finished 10 of 16 for 212 yards, four touchdowns and a 256.3 pass efficiency rating. He averaged 21.2 yards per completion, 13.2 yards per pass attempt. He also rushed one time for 33 yards.
BYU scored on eight of its first nine possessions. That says it all.
Well, and the fact four players scored two touchdowns (Miles Davis, Fonua, Tyler Allgeier, Rex).
On this day, it was style points all the way because Northern Alabama defenders simply had few answers for stopping the Cougars. Rex, the biggest mismatch on the field for North Alabama, had a pair of touchdown catches, propelling him to eight in his freshman year. He surpassed his father Byron Rex (seven) in career TDs, including four in the last two games.
Allgeier gained 141 on just 13 carries, and averaged 10.8 yards per tote before sitting down for Fonua (two touchdowns) as regular Lopini Katoa did not play. The freshman Davis scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.
BYU’s defense did force three turnovers (one interception, two fumble recoveries) but reserves did help North Alabama come up with 305 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns.
“We made some mistakes but we wanted to give a lot of young guys a chance to play,” said Sitake.
Should BYU add another game?
That will be the debate, and a heated one, as the Cougars head into a two-week layoff in which they could be out of many conversations as league play in Power Five competition heats up. Also, there have been teams that have not wanted a game with BYU — Army hasn’t rescheduled a game with the Cougars that was postponed in September.
A Pac-12 team could offer BYU a game after a league decision to open up non-league fill-in games for conference teams who have had cancellations.
But the Pac-12 requirements to make that happen are overloaded with Pac-12 interests, including adhering to the league’s testing protocols, the requirement to play on a Pac-12 home field, and an “out” to cancel by Thursday of the week if another Pac-12 team can fill in that date.
Who’d want to take on that commitment from a league that has short-changed its own athletes since this weird 2020 season began?