You can respond from adversity and you can get back on the right track. The goal is to try and turn this thing, and that’s what we’re going to try and do. —BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
BYU (1-5) at Mississippi State (3-2)
Saturday, 10 a.m. MDT, Davis Wade Stadium, TV: SEC Network
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — If it weren’t bad enough that BYU has lost five consecutive games, the way the Cougars have looked in most of those contests is even more troubling.
In its five games against FBS opponents, BYU has been outscored 150-50. That’s an average score of 30-10.
The Cougars have lost to opponents from the Southeastern Conference, Pac-12 and the Big Ten. BYU’s last two setbacks have come to Mountain West Conference foes — by 16 and 17 points — respectively.
The Cougars are mired in their longest single-season losing streak since 1970, and they have a 1-5 record for the first time since 1973.
Yes, BYU’s streak of 12 consecutive bowl games is in serious jeopardy. The Cougars need to win six of their final seven games to finish the regular season with a winning record.
Coach Kalani Sitake is determined to help his team rebound.
“You can respond from adversity and you can get back on the right track. The goal is to try and turn this thing, and that’s what we’re going to try and do,” he said after last Friday’s 24-7 loss to Boise State. “And it requires hard work and some really good, wise decisions from the coaches and from the players. I’m anxious to get to work right now and try to get this fixed. This is not what we thought it would be, definitely — this season and (Friday night) — so we’ll work on everything.”
This week, the Cougars travel to the Southeastern Conference’s Mississippi State (3-2), which is coming off a bye week.
BYU and MSU meet Saturday (10 a.m. MDT, SEC Network).
The Bulldogs routed Louisiana State 37-7 this season, the same LSU team that blanked BYU 27-0 on Sept. 2. Mississippi State has lost two straight games, to nationally ranked Georgia (31-3) and Auburn (49-10).
Last season, BYU defeated MSU 28-21 in double overtime in Provo. On the first play of the second OT, quarterback Taysom Hill threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Balderree to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, and it turned out to be the game-winner.
After playing at MSU on Saturday, the schedule lightens up considerably, although with the way the Cougars have been playing, they can take nothing for granted. Their remaining opponents are East Carolina (1-5), San Jose State (1-6), Fresno State (3-2), UNLV (2-3), UMass (0-6) and Hawaii (2-4). That’s a combined record of 9-26.
BYU needs to find ways to get into the end zone if it is to end its losing streak. The Cougars have scored only seven offensive touchdowns this season.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s tough,” said quarterback Tanner Mangum. “You work so hard and want to come out with a victory, but we didn’t play well enough and that’s frustrating. That’s the game, you’ve got to keep going and keep moving on. We have got to keep fighting to get better, and we will do that.”
What is it going to take for BYU to snap this abysmal, historic losing streak?
“I think it comes down to our heart. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and keep fighting. It’s a football game, you’re going to get down and the other team is going to have good plays as well,” Mangum said. “It’s a matter of us having the will to fight, sticking to our game plan and keep going after it. I believe in our guys and that we can get this thing going. It’s frustrating that we haven’t done it yet. We need to focus one game at a time and can’t change what’s happened. We need to learn from it. We are working hard. It’s not a matter of effort or heart. It’s a matter of execution, and I think we’ve got to crack down on that and be able to put a drive together and put points on the board to help our defense out.”