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BYU 1-on-1: How big was the Cougar hoops win over No. 12-ranked Oregon?

By Jared Lloyd and Darnell Dickson - | Nov 19, 2021
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Oregon forward Eric Williams Jr., right, shoots over BYU forward Caleb Lohner, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
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BYU football players take the field before the 21-19 BYU win over Washington State at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)
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BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua runs the ball up field during the 59-14 Cougar win over Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6 ,2021. (Harold Mitchell, Special to the Daily Herald)
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BYU running back Tyler Allgeier runs up the field during the 59-14 Cougar win over Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6 ,2021. (Harold Mitchell, Special to the Daily Herald)
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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake leads the band in the fight song after the 59-14 Cougar win over Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6 ,2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)

BYU sports experts Jared Lloyd and Darnell Dickson tackle five of the big questions facing the Cougars this week:

1. Where does Tuesday’s 32-point victory against Oregon rank in BYU men’s basketball history?

DICKSON: Looking at it dispassionately, it’s a preseason win that may not carry a lot of weight in March. I mean, who knows right now? But here’s the thing: There’s no way I would have believed BYU is 32 points better than Oregon. There’s no way I would have believed that even with a big halftime deficit the Ducks couldn’t muster a comeback. The domination was as complete as it was surprising. As far as where it ranks all-time, probably not even in the top 10. Not yet, anyway. My biggest takeaway from the game is that this BYU team is just built differently. There will be very few games this year where the Cougars are going to face a team with more athleticism and skill. BYU is playing some very good defense, and as they say, that travels. It’s going to be fun to watch.

LLOYD: Before I get into where this fits in history, I’ve just got to say that it was incredibly fun to watch from the perspective of someone who covers Utah Valley sports. There were the little moments between BYU’s Spencer Johnson and his younger brother, Isaac Johnson, who plays for Oregon. Both played at American Fork High School, as did Trey Stewart who was on the court with Isaac Johnson near the end of the game. I also admired how the Cougars handled the Duck pressure and how they forced Oregon to take a lot of shots it didn’t really want.

As for the historical aspect, I would say it is one of the Top 20 most impressive performances by a BYU squad but I can’t put it higher than that for one simple reason: I don’t feel confident in just how good the Ducks are. Their previous wins over Texas Southern and SMU are just too small of a data pool to glean much. Yes, they had people’s respect as evidenced by the No. 12 ranking, but rankings are often inaccurate. Still, it was tremendous showing and something the Cougars should be proud to have been a part of.

2. What position group on the Cougar football team benefited most from the bye week?

LLOYD: I don’t see how any unit needed the break more than the BYU defensive line. Those guys have been the heart of this Cougar defense in many ways and have taken the punishment to prove it, getting beaten up as they have taken on two or even three blocks while trying to stuff holes and still get some pressure on the quarterback. Even the linemen who haven’t missed time were definitely needing to recuperate from the bumps and bruises that come from the 10-week grind. It may not show up with gaudy stat numbers this Saturday against Georgia Southern but those guys are going to be a lot better than they were in previous weeks.

DICKSON: I think it is the line, but I would go with the offensive line. No one delivers more blows or takes more blows on a regular basis. I think new offensive line coach Darrell Funk has done a terrific job of shuffling guys in and out of the lineup due to injury, but getting those who are playing healed up and ready for the final push of the regular season is critical. These guys get beat up (and deliver beatings) every week. After ten weeks of play, I’ll bet those offensive linemen were glad to take a little time off.

3. Do you really believe there is any chance BYU can get an invitation to a New Year’s Six bowl game?

DICKSON: I keep reading these stories about which teams BYU fans should root for this weekend to make a New Year’s Six bowl game more likely. It seems that the number of wins and losses that need to fall into place is astronomical and more complicated than high-level calculus. So I think fans should be more worried about who the Cougars will play in the Independence Bowl. I really don’t want to see a matchup against a Group of 5 team and I really don’t care to see BYU play a 6-6 team from a Power 5 Conference. I just hope it’s an entertaining game at this point. Like Jared will tell you, the Cougars blew their opportunity to get to New Year’s with a loss to a subpar Boise State team.

LLOYD: I think the likelihood is slim and frankly I don’t know if the Cougars deserve it this season, even though they are right on the cusp. BYU is currently the third-highest ranked two-loss team, behind No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 11 Baylor (who, of course, beat the Cougars). The only ranked win for BYU came over No. 23-ranked Utah, who has three losses. What really hurts the Cougars is falling at home to Boise State, who is just 6-4. Although the College Football Playoff committee ignores losses whenever it suits their fancy (see Oregon’s loss to 3-7 Stanford, which apparently never happened according to them), I don’t. This is a really good BYU team, but a great Cougar squad would’ve found a way to win that game against the Broncos and it didn’t. Period. BYU just doesn’t have any more chances to build their portfolio, so I don’t see the Cougars getting enough traction to get into one of those games.

4. Where do you believe BYU has the biggest advantage for Saturday’s game at Georgia Southern?

LLOYD: The difference in this game is going to be execution of the game plan. The Cougars have savvy defenders who I think should be experienced enough to limit the Eagle spread-option-hybrid attack by doing what they are supposed to do and limiting the yards gained for Georgia Southern. BYU did that well against Navy last year and, although it ended up losing, it wasn’t terrible against Coastal Carolina with short preparation. And that isn’t even talking about an offense that appears to be clicking both on the ground and through the air. I just don’t think the Eagle defense will be able to slow the Cougars or keep up with the visitors on the scoreboard.

DICKSON: I think the Cougars are a mature football team that does a good job of limiting distractions on the road. There are a number of leaders on the roster that can keep the team focused on the job at hand. BYU is a three-score favorite in the game and sometimes that leads to complacency. I don’t think that will be the case. This team will be able to focus on doing everything they need to do to come out strong and get the win.

5. Is it necessary for BYU to sweeten Kalani Sitake’s contract because of all of the Power 5 jobs he’s been linked two recently?

DICKSON: Tom Holmoe should do everything he can to keep Sitake happy. Sitake has all the power right now. He definitely has earned the raise, hasn’t he? Holmoe can lock up Sitake for more years but BYU can’t approach the $95 million Michigan State just threw at Mel Tucker — but they can keep him comfortable for a decade or more. Is the Board of Trustees willing to do such a thing? I think they are, because Sitake is a guy they can get behind and endorse.

LLOYD: The question Darnell just alluded to is the big one: What does Sitake want? Is it a bigger salary? More funds for his coaches? A longer contract? A pool table in his office? This may be the first time in BYU history that the Cougars can conceivably have the expectation of great financial options in the upcoming years because of the move to the Big 12, so it makes sense to do everything they can to keep Sitake in Provo. Having to gotten to know Sitake over the years, however, I don’t know if the traditional concept of just throwing more money at him is the most important factor. He is big on relationships and on taking care of people, so I think efforts to improve the Cougar locker room and making endorsement deals possible for a lot of players resonates with him. That, in turn, makes him more likely to want to be BYU’s head coach for many years to come.

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