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BYU vs. Boise State Football Prediction and Preview

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BYU vs. Boise State Football Prediction and Preview

BYU vs. Boise State Football Prediction and Preview

Both the BYU Cougars and Boise State Broncos can make a huge statement when the two rivals clash on Friday night.

The No. 9 Cougars (7-0) are off to their best start since 2001 while dominating a slate of weaker opponents. BYU is averaging 44.4 points and 527.7 yards per game while holding opponents to 13.4 points and 281.3 yards per contest. The Cougars allowed just 4.0 yards per play in their 41-10 victory over WKU last weekend. The Hilltoppers had three drives totaling 10 or more plays but came away with a combined three points.

For the No. 21 Broncos (2-0, 2-0 MW), this game represents their best shot to build a case for getting to a New Year's Six bowl if they can run the table in a mediocre Mountain West Conference. Boise State is potent as ever on offense. The Broncos are averaging 45.5 points and 454.5 yards through their first two games. Boise State stretched its winning streak over conference opponents to 11 games with a 49-30 victory over Air Force last weekend.

Boise State leads the series 7-3. BYU earned the most recent victory in the series, knocking off the No. 14 Broncos 28-25 last season. It ended up being Boise State's lone regular-season defeat.

No. 9 BYU at No. 21 Boise State

Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 6 at 9:45 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Spread: BYU -2.5

When BYU Has the Ball

Starting fast has been BYU's trademark in recent games. The Cougars scored touchdowns on all five first-half drives against WKU. Getting early stops will be imperative for Boise State in order to slow BYU from building quick momentum.

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Zach Wilson delivered an uneven performance by his standards against the Hilltoppers. Wilson threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns, but completed only 56 percent of his passes and tossed his second interception of the season. Still, BYU topped 40 points for the sixth time this season and 400 yards for the seventh time. As long as Wilson has Gunner Romney and Dax Milne around as targets, the Cougars' passing game will remain dangerous. Romney and Milne have combined for 1,221 yards and eight touchdowns through seven games.

BYU will need to go to the ground often to keep Boise State's explosive offense off the field. The Cougars have three running backs capable of racking up the yards. Tyler Allgeier is averaging 6.5 yards per carry as BYU's leading rusher. Allgeier is closing in on 600 rushing yards for the season and has racked up 90-plus yards in four games. Lopini Katoa is a playmaker as a runner and a receiver. Sione Finau is finally healthy and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry in spot minutes over the past two games.

When Boise State Has the Ball

The Broncos find themselves in a welcome position of having two talented quarterbacks who can move the chains and get favorable results. Hank Bachmeier did not make the trip to Colorado Springs for undisclosed reasons. Jack Sears stepped in as the starter and Boise State took zero steps backward on offense with him at the controls.

Sears threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns in his first start with the Broncos. The USC transfer completed 85 percent of his passes against Air Force and led Boise State to touchdowns on seven of the team's 10 drives. He connected with CT Thomas on the Broncos' first offensive play for a 75-yard touchdown pass. Thomas had two touchdown catches and finished with 101 yards — his third career 100-yard game. He, along with top receiver Khalil Shakir, will test the BYU secondary for four quarters with their explosiveness.

George Holani was limited to five yards on two carries after suffering a first-quarter injury against the Falcons. Backup running back Andrew Van Buren ran for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries. If Holani isn't ready to go this week, Van Buren is a capable back who can give the Cougars headaches. Shakir also is a dangerous run threat used in some situations.

Final Analysis

BYU has never won on the Smurf Turf. The Cougars are 0-5 all-time in Boise and three of those contests came down to the final play. Will this be the year BYU finally gets over the hump? The Cougars certainly have the tools to do it, but they face a Broncos team that will be fired up. Boise State missed out on an NY6 bowl last season because of a loss to BYU. Now the tables have turned and the Broncos have a shot to shatter long-shot College Football Playoff dreams for the Cougars. Boise State will not let such an opportunity go to waste.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Boise State

Prediction: Boise State 34, BYU 31

Podcast: Week 10 Preview and Predictions

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports, and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.