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Fresno State Bulldogs vs. BYU Cougars Preview and Prediction

Bronson Kaufusi

Bronson Kaufusi

An old WAC rivalry renews this Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah, as BYU hosts Fresno State in the Cougars’ final home game of the season.

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The last time these two teams faced other was in 1998 when both programs were in the Western Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs lead the overall series 5-4.

BYU’s (7-3) five-game winning streak was snapped last week in a disappointing loss to Missouri in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Bulldogs on the other hand had reason to celebrate for once this season following a road victory against Hawaii to improve their record to 3-7.

Fresno State at BYU

Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: BYU -26

Three Things to Watch

1. Senior Day at BYU

This Saturday will be the final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium for 18 members of the BYU football team. The most notable senior on this list is quarterback Taysom Hill. Hill’s future at BYU in 2016 is still up in the air and will be discussed between him and head coach Bronco Mendenhall after BYU’s bowl game. But for now, the Cougars plan on celebrating the talents of the talented Hill along with defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who has shot up NFL draft boards after that dominating 10-tackle performance against Missouri a week ago.

2. Pair of Bulldogs pursuing career records

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There haven’t been many bright spots for Fresno State on the defensive side of the ball this season, as the Bulldogs have given up 37.1 points per game. Despite those stats that would even make Big 12 defensive coordinators cry, Fresno State boasts a talented linebacker in Ejiro Ederaine.

Ederaine has been a three-year starter for and is creeping up the all-time Mountain West tackles for a loss leaderboard. Currently Ederaine sits third all-time, and is one away from tying former BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen, who will see Ederaine play in person this week as he is a graduate assistant for the Cougars. Ederaine needs four more TFLs to tie former San Diego State LB Miles Burris.

On the other side of the ball, senior running back Marteze Waller is 51 yards rushing away from 3,000 in his career.

3. BYU’s offense wants to start fast

After a strong October, BYU’s offense has struggled since the calendar turned to the month of November. The previous two games have seen the Cougars score just 33 points. A far cry from the 30-plus point outings they had in all four games last month.

This offense is mad and angry after the lackluster showing against Missouri. Look for BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum to distribute the ball to seven or eight different receivers, including a pair of seniors in Mitch Mathews and Devon Blackmon.

Final Analysis

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Where has the time gone for Fresno State? Feels so long ago since former Bulldogs head coach Pat Hill would shout to Power 5 teams around the country, “anybody, anytime, anywhere,” and the Bulldogs were always pulling off upsets everywhere you looked. Now that mantra applies to all the blowout losses the valley has had to endure since Derek Carr left two years ago for the NFL.

Fresno State football is struggling to say the least, and an angry BYU team on the road is not the remedy to get better. BYU wants to finish its homes slate strong and with an undefeated record, something the Cougars haven’t accomplished since 2008.

BYU cruises to an easy win in this matinee snoozer.

Prediction: BYU 41, Fresno State 10

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.