Tomorrow night, 11th-ranked Brigham Young University football hosts Western Kentucky in the first-ever meeting between the two football programs. The story of how these two teams came to play each other is as unique as anything else in 2020.
Back in April, in the wake of the cancellation of college athletics in the U.S. due to COVID-19, SiriusXM held a College Mascot Bracket Challenge via Twitter where fans could vote for their favorite mascot. The challenge ultimately ended with BYU’s Cosmo and Western Kentucky’s Big Red in the championship round. After 96,035 votes, Cosmo the Cougar came out on top of Big Red by just 0.2%.
Both schools’ athletic directors commented that they would be interested in playing future a series so, when August saw BYU’s football schedule in shambles, the two made good on their promises and scheduled a game for Halloween night.
WKU head coach Tyson Helton said of the matchup, “It’s a huge challenge for our football team but one that I think we’re excited to be a part of. You know, I think back to all the places we’ve been and come away with a win, so why can’t we do it again?”
Although they currently have a 2-4 record, the Hilltoppers had 9 wins in 2019, and coach Kalani Sitake isn’t about to overlook them: “They’re well-coached. You look at their coaching staff and those guys know what they’re doing. So they’ll find ways, and they’ll be creative and find innovative ways to try to put points on the board and try to stop us from scoring, and so we have to be ready for everything.”
BYU leads Western Kentucky in most major stat categories, but Helton says his team doesn’t mind being the underdog. “There’s no pressure there. The whole world thinks they’re supposed to come out there and go put 50-something on you and dominate you and make you look bad, so what’s there to lose? We’ve been in big stadiums before; we’ve played well, and we’ve won in big stadiums. It’s a non-conference game; there’s really no stress or anything to worry about. Our guys like these kinds of games. I don’t think they get concerned about anything other than having an opportunity to play a really good football team.”
BYU and Western Kentucky will finish what Cosmo and Big Red started tomorrow at 10:15 EST on ESPN.