BYU prepares for Thursday’s home matchup against Houston


If BYU fans ask Siri, Apple’s iPhone iOS assistant, who her favorite college football team is, they will be pleasantly surprised. Thanks to the AP Poll’s current ranking this week, BYU is Siri’s favorite team coming in at number 25. Her reason? She likes to root for the underdogs.

LeVell Edward's Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Universe Photo)
LeVell Edward’s Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Universe Photo)

Despite this funny and exciting new fan, the BYU football team does not intend to keep Siri a fan for long. With the first home game on Thursday approaching, BYU’s only intention is to go up from here. With a two-game winning streak packed away, the team needs to stay focused for the week’s upcoming game against the Houston Cougars if it wants to stay in the rankings.

Last year’s match was intense, to say the least.

With BYU’s quarterback, Taysom Hill, completing a pass to Skyler Ridley in the last minute of the game, BYU narrowly defeated Houston, 47-46. All game long, the two teams stayed neck to neck, resulting in a powerful game and thrilling shootout for the Cougars.

This year, Houston virtually has the same roster as last season. From last year’s starters, Houston has nine defensive players and seven offensive players returning to the game, including quarterback John O’Korn. It spells out the potential of an identical Houston team that BYU saw last year with 483 offensive yards and 117 defensive tackles.

“(The Houston team is) just the same as a year ago,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Really good schemes and good players, and so they’re doing a nice job … and capable against anybody they play.”

O’Korn is also coming off a successful week against Grambling, where the coaching staff noticed significant improvement compared to their season opener. He completed 58 percent of his passes with a total of 477 passing yards. With no interceptions and a huge shutout to end the game 47-0, Houston’s quarterback can be a threat if he continues to improve.

However, O’Korn’s average is still lower than what it was against BYU a year ago. He completed 64 percent of his passes back then. In addition, BYU’s defense is still formidable. The Cougars limited the Texas Longhorns to only 258 total yards, allowing the team just one touchdown in the whole game. Plus, they have the advantage of studying the film of a Houston team that has changed very little. They will have a better understanding of how Houston’s offense functions.

“(Our chances are) really good. Seventeen team points in two games and, if that keeps up, we’ll have a great chance in every game we play. And that’s how I measure it, really, is how many points are allowed,” Mendenhall said.

Taysom Hill is coming from two impressive games that continue to land him in the potential Heisman circle. Against UConn, Hill had two touchdowns and 97 rushing yards of his own. The following week against Texas, he had three touchdowns and 99 rushing yards. He ended the Texas game with a 67 percent pass completion rate.

Hill has been able to prove this season that not only does he have a running game, but his passing game has greatly improved since last season. He will be a tremendous asset for BYU if he is able to stay consistent.

The Cougar team high-five the fans. (Geoffrey McAllister)
Cougar athletes high-five fans. (Geoffrey McAllister)

BYU potentially has three players who will not play on Thursday due to injury. Mendenhall had no status on the conditions of linebacker Bronson Kaufusi, offensive lineman De’Ondre Wesley and running back Algernon Brown, who, in last week’s game, were all injured.

The football team is hopeful that its fans will show up in sell-out numbers to show their support.

“It will be really helpful,” Mendenhall said. “It would be great to have even a greater advantage at home from a similar fan base even though it’s on national TV. It’s still our home stadium, and I think seeing a game in person and supporting is still better than seeing it on the TV.”

Still, BYU cannot overlook Houston. The Houston Cougars are a very strong team, focusing on stopping repeat success for BYU. Our home Cougars, need to do the same.

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