This week’s football game features a unique opponent — the only Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or I-AA team the Cougars face this year — the Idaho State Bengals. ISU is in the Big Sky Conference with teams such as Montana and Weber State.
The Cougars host the Bengals Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium as the Bengals look to take revenge from the two teams’ last meeting. The last time they faced each other was in 1951 in Provo, when the Cougars won 27-7. This is the fourth overall meeting between the two schools, with the Cougars leading the series, 3-0.
Idaho State is 2-5 on the season. Their most recent game resulted in a 39-12 loss against another Utah team, Weber State. The Bengals have struggled with their running game this season. The team is averaging 22 rushing yards per game. However, Idaho State is fourth in the FCS in passing at 336 yards per game.
“They [Idaho State] throw it 70-80 times a game, it could lengthen the game and possibly create quick points for them,” BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman said. “Our offense is going to have to sustain some good long drives to keep their offense off the field.”
The Bengals feature two teammates who have connected more than a few times this year. Starting quarterback Kevin Yost comes into the game averaging 298 yards per game. Junior wide receiver Rodrick Rumble leads the nation in receptions per game at 10.71 and is second in receiving yards at 142.29 per game.
Since Idaho State is mostly a passing team, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said his defense needs to really focus on the secondary’s performance to be successful.
“[Our goal is to] manage the points, which I thought we did effectively last week,” Mendenhall said. “I’m not as concerned about how many completions and yardage. As long as we keep the points down, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals have played effectively in the red zone. Their defense has held opponents to only 10 touchdowns on 24 trips to the red zone.
“Defensively they like to get in man-to-man coverage and be physical with your wide receivers,” BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson said. “If we can’t make plays in one-on-one situations, then it’s going to be a long day for us.”
If history continues to hold true, Idaho State’s task this week against BYU won’t be easy. The Bengals are 0-15 against FBS teams in the last 10 years. The last time Idaho State defeated an FBS opponent was against Utah State in 2000.