Wilson leads BYU Football to highest ranking in 11 years

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Wilson leads BYU Football to highest ranking in 11 years

BYU Football was ranked No. 15 in the AP Top 25 Poll on Oct. 4 following a 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech two days earlier. It is the highest ranking for BYU since 2009.

The ranking was accompanied by individual recognition for quarterback Zach Wilson, who broke a BYU record for completion percentage against LA Tech, throwing for 325 yards at 92.3 percent. Wilson was named the Walter Camp FBS Offensive Player of the Week, the first at BYU since Max Hall in 2009, as well as the College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week.

Wilson and BYU have officially entered the national college football conversation, with a 3-0 record and eye-popping statistics that make the Cougars hard to ignore.

BYU is currently first in the FBS in the following categories: total offense (585.7 yards-per-game), total defense (214.3 yards-per-game), pass efficiency (214.9), completion percentage (82.9%), and fewest penalties per game (2.7). BYU is also second in FBS scoring offense (49.3 points-per-game) and fourth in scoring defense (8.0 points-per-game allowed).

Zach Wilson launches off of one foot for a pass downfield in the first quarter against LA Tech on Oct. 2. Wilson broke a BYU record for completion percentage against LA Tech, throwing for 325 yards at 92.3 percent. (BYU Photo)

Wilson is a big reason for a lot of those offensive numbers. On the season, Wilson leads the nation in completion percentage (84.5%), rates second in yards per attempt (13.37) and pass efficiency (221.85), and is third overall in points responsible for, both passing and rushing, with 66.

His offensive versatility was on full display against LA Tech as he threw two touchdown passes, both from 22 yards out and became the first BYU quarterback since Taysom Hill in 2014 to rush for three touchdowns in one game.

On his final rushing touchdown of the game, Wilson took off from 14 yards outside the end zone, spun to avoid a defender, then dove across the goal line for his fifth score of the night. Following the highlight play, ESPN commentator and former Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware said, “We are watching one of the best college football players in the country right now.”

Ware wasn’t the only person with words of praise for the Cougar quarterback, as players and pundits from all over the country tweeted out their admiration for Wilson and BYU during and after the LA Tech blowout.

“Time for the CFB world to wake up on @BYUfootball QB Zach Wilson,” ESPN and SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic said on Twitter. “On the season he is 60-of-71 (for) 949 yards, six touchdowns (and) one interception.”

Teammates congratulate Zach Wilson on a rushing touchdown in the first half against LA Tech on Oct. 2. Wilson was the first BYU quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in one game since Taysom Hill in 2014. (BYU Photo)

Despite the lopsided wins and national attention, head coach Kalani Sitake wants his players to remain “humble and hungry,” pointing out that there is “a lot more football to be played” just three games into the season.

His quarterback seems to embody that humble and hungry mindset, deflecting any talk about what could happen down the road for this team and instead focusing on what is right in front of them.

“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Wilson said after the LA Tech game. “We’re preparing for UTSA now — they’re a great team.”

The Cougars welcome the Roadrunners of the University of Texas at San Antonio to Provo on Oct. 10 for homecoming and their third consecutive home game, before making the trek to Texas themselves for a meeting against the University of Houston on Oct. 16.

The game against UTSA will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Oct. 10 at 1:30 p.m. MST. It is the first meeting between the Cougars and Roadrunners.

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