Dick Harmon: BYU football: Cougar defense makes final appearance inside LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday vs. Idaho
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — If you’re assembling reasons to watch Idaho at BYU Saturday night, good luck building the list.
One thing to toss in your bucket is that 1-8 Idaho should not score a point in this game. Call it a goose egg, a shutout, firing a blank, whatever: It will be shocking if the Vandals score.
I'm not sure if that’s an appealing enough reason to witness this one, but I will say this much: The game will be a good opportunity to salute this outstanding BYU defense making its final appearance in town.
This is Senior Night and more than half dozen of BYU’s best defenders will play the final game of their careers in Provo.
They include: Ezekiel Ansah, an NFL curiosity as a terrorizing pass-rusher and chase-down artist; linebacker Brandon Ogletree, a former 4A Texas All-State player who has led the Cougars in tackles the past two seasons; the Cougars’ best cover cornerback, Preston Hadley; and middle linebacker and USC transfer Uona Kaveinga.
Linemen Romney Fuga and Russell Tialavea, both mainstays for years, also finish their defensive careers in LaVell Edwards Stadium late Saturday night.
If junior sensation Kyle Van Noy decides to forgoe next season for the NFL draft, he’ll also be doing his swan song that begs for an audience.
This group includes a lot of tough, downright nasty defenders that may go down as one of the best BYU defenses of all time.
Think these guys want to give up a score?
It will be cold, possibly wet. There’s a need to get this game over as fast as possible.
A year ago, BYU beat Idaho 42-7, and this year the Cougars are more capable of barring the door on opposing offenses. Mix in the fact Idaho’s interim head coach, Jason Gesser, is in his second game in that role.
Idaho ranks 117th in the country in rushing with an 80.5 yard-per-game average. The Vandal passing attack is 59th and scoring offense 120th. Idaho is 1-8 for the season and has lost its last three games to San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Texas State. In those losses, it scored 13, 28 and 7 points.
The Cougars rank No. 7 in rushing defense, No. 4 in total defense and No. 7 in scoring defense. BYU ranks No. 1 in the nation in red-zone defense, No. 3 in third-down defense and No. 5 in first-down defense.
Idaho quarterback Logan Bushnell has played in six games this season and thrown one touchdown pass. He has a pass-efficiency rating of 96 — not very good. The top Vandal running back is Ryan Bass. He’s gained 339 yards and no touchdowns.
If BYU’s defense pitches a shutout Saturday, it will be the second one this season — the other was a 47-0 blanking against Norm Chow and Hawaii back on Sept. 28.
BYU allowed Washington State 6 points, USU 3 and Boise State 7. So, it isn’t rocket science to expect futility for Idaho’s offense come midnight in chilly Provo.
This week’s games:
Arizona 34, Colorado 10: Road game for Colorado and the Wildcats should easily handle the 1-8, 1-5 Buffs.
USC 28, Arizona State 21: The Trojans certainly will play with fully inflated footballs in this game now that that their mischievous manager has been fired.
Oregon State 31, Stanford 21: The Beavers will return the firepower needed to dispatch the Cardinal.
UCLA 27, Washington State 7: Mike Leach is hoping the clock runs twice as fast.
Oregon 42, California 9: Death Star rules.
Washington 24, Utah 21: Toss-up game with edge going to the home team.
BYU 48, Idaho 0: Sunday can’t come quickly enough for all involved.
Overall: 47-18 (.723)
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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