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The Cougars have six games left to play to determine whether or not they will be eligible for the Hawaii Bowl in December. (BYU Photo)

BYU football took down No. 14 Boise State 28-25 during BYU’s Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 20. The victory brought BYU’s record for the season to 3-4, meaning the team is now just three wins away from bowl eligibility.

Baylor Romney was BYU’s starting quarterback for the Boise State game, having replaced backup quarterback Jaren Hall who left the previous game against the University of South Florida with concussion-like symptoms. Head coach Kalani Sitake said Hall is currently day-to-day with his head injury. The USF game was Hall’s first game starting as quarterback after replacing Zach Wilson, who suffered a fracture on his right thumb in a previous game. Cougar offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf was also taken out of the game after a hard hit to the head.

There was a concern these injuries would have an adverse effect on BYU’s offense. However, Romney and the other replacements, including Sione Finau, gave BYU a healthy jolt of energy.

“We’ve always talked about our depth and getting opportunities to play and making sure that they are ready. I was really proud of them today,” Sitake said after the Boise State game.

Baylor Romney prepares to pass the ball in the winning game against Boise State on Oct. 20. (Hannah Miner)

Last week’s matchup against Boise State was considered to be BYU’s toughest remaining game of the season. The Broncos held a perfect season record, winning their last game against Hawaii 59-37. The teams played on BYU turf for the Cougars’ homecoming game, and Boise was highly favored to take the victory.

Last year’s game against the Broncos was a big loss for the Cougars, and the Cougars went into the game looking to redeem themselves.

“It’s kind of burning a fire in me. I want to go out, and obviously, I want to beat this team,” running back Gunner Romney said before the game.

The details of Hall’s injury and the amount of time he will have to go without playing is still unclear. If it proves to be a season-ending injury, the team will adjust once again to a new quarterback, but Romney said he is up for the challenge.

“I’m just going to work and be ready for another opportunity whenever that comes my way,” Romney said. “They can expect me to be ready.”

BYU has five more games lined up this season, and in order to qualify for the Hawaii Bowl, they have to win three of the five. Here’s what the remaining schedule looks like:

  • Nov. 2, Utah State (4-2)
  • Nov. 9, Liberty (5-2)
  • Nov. 16, Idaho State (3-4)
  • Nov. 23, UMass (1-6)
  • Nov. 30, San Diego (5-1)
The Cougars are gearing up for a series of tough games, starting with a game against Utah State on Nov. 2. (Claire Gentry)

All five games are possible wins for the team, but they won’t be easy. Utah State has averaged 458.2 yards while giving up an average of 422.2 yards per game. BYU has averaged 386.5 yards per game, so there is a definite gap between what has been done and what the team needs to accomplish. The quarterback changes haven’t been helpful as the offense continues to try and find its footing this season.

Liberty beat the University of Maine on Oct. 19., with quarterback Stephen Calvert throwing for 351 yards. The quarterback also lost 12 yards on the ground. Liberty’s rushing offense sits at 100th among NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams, but BYU’s defense has struggled this season and is currently ranked 122nd.

Idaho State has a split record, and it has suffered from inconsistency throughout the season, losing its most recent game against the University of Idaho 45-21. Quarterback Matt Struck showed some sloppy footwork against Montana three weeks ago but seemed to have it under control for the game against North Dakota two weeks ago. He had 316 passing yards against Idaho, but lost 21 yards on the ground. This should bode well for the Cougars.

The University of Massachusetts has only won one game this season and could be BYU’s best bet for an easy win. That doesn’t mean the Cougars can let their guard down, however, as BYU has shown a tendency so far this season to hold the lead for the majority of the game and then lose it to sloppy mistakes in the fourth quarter, as happened in the game with USF, and almost happened against Boise State.

San Diego has played a strong season, with senior quarterback Ryan Agnew already throwing for 14 touchdowns. Many of their games have been close ones but in one of their most recent games, they dominated Valparaiso University with a 42-17 victory.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, BYU’s fight to qualify for a bowl game seems difficult, but not impossible. The Cougars have made a lot of simple mistakes and have had trouble holding a lead throughout the entirety of a game, but all is not lost for the team. Hopefully their recent victory will help them to face the coming games with a renewed vigor that will be enough for at least three more wins and a trip to Hawaii.

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