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BYU (6-4) at San Jose State (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 10:30 pm (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (30,456) -- San Jose, California. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: BYU 5-1, SJSU 3-1. Away Record: BYU 1-3, SJSU 5-1. Neutral Record: BYU 0-0, SJSU 0-0. Conference Record: BYU 0-0, SJSU 4-1. Series Record: San Jose State leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars take on a member of the Western Athletic Conference for the second straight week as they size up San Jose State at Spartan Stadium on Saturday night.
BYU, which actually closes out the regular season against yet another WAC foe in New Mexico State in Las Cruces next week, thumped visiting Idaho at Lavell Edwards Stadium last weekend in a lopsided 52-13 final. The victory was the second straight and the sixth in 10 chances for the Cougars who after last week's win accepted an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on December 20 against a team from the Mountain West Conference to be determined.
Whichever school from the MWC gets the call to San Diego next month, chances are they'll already have a history with BYU since that's the conference the program called home before becoming an Independent.
As for the Spartans, they are enjoying one of their most successful campaigns in recent memory. Outside of a season-opening loss to Stanford (20-17) on the road, and a 49-27 setback versus Utah State, SJSU has put together a magical season with eight wins already.
Last week, the Spartans dismantled New Mexico State on the road in a 47-7 final in order to strengthen their claim to a postseason bid. The victory was the fourth in a row and the eighth in the last nine tries for a program that has won just as many games this season as it had in the previous three campaigns combined.
The Spartans lead the all-time series with BYU by a count of 9-6, but the Cougars are the ones who came out victorious in last year's meeting in Provo, 29-16. This trip marks the first for the Cougars to San Jose since 1968.
Like just about every other team that has gone up against Idaho this season, the Cougars ripped up the Vandals in every way imaginable as quarterbacks Riley Nelson and James Lark combined to hit on 25-of-42 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns. Cody Hoffman caught a pair of scores and Jamaal Williams ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns as well for the Cougars on their home field.
Defensively, BYU had little to worry about since the Vandals are in shambles these days. The Cougars did allow one touchdown on a 33-yard pass play, but other than that the unit was rarely challenged. Idaho was allowed just 61 rushing yards on 23 attempts which isn't that unusual given that the Vandals are one of the weakest running teams in the country and BYU now ranks fourth in the nation in stopping the run with just 92.3 ypg permitted.
In terms of total defense, the Cougars have few peers as they give up a mere 254.5 ypg, which is good enough for fourth in the country. Those limited yards have yielded just 14.2 ppg, seventh-best in the nation.
Nelson, who missed some action early this season, has bounced back to throw at least one touchdown in each of the last four outings and now has 12 total on the campaign. However, that doesn't mean that Nelson is free from error because he has tossed 11 picks, twice tossing three in a single game, so there is a potential for him to self-destruct from time to time.
Big plays were the order of the day for the Spartans as they scored three times on plays of over 50 yards as they dismantled the New Mexico State Aggies in conference action, 47-7, in Las Cruces. David Fales was at it again as he completed 12-of-18 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns, against a single interception, with Chandler Jones catching five balls for 101 yards and two TDs for the visitors.
While the SJSU offense was rolling to 504 yards, the defense was holding tough by limiting the hosts to just 220 yards. Also getting in on the action was Bene Benwikere who returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown just before intermission. Benwikere accounted for six tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, as he was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in less than a month.
Benwikere epitomizes the effort put forth by the Spartans this season as he has three interceptions in his last four games and has scored touchdowns in consecutive outings. San Jose State is currently seventh in the nation in sacks with 3.4 per outing.
On the other side of the ball, Fales has taken the league by storm by throwing for 25 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, and he is fourth in the country in pass efficiency rating (170.65) thanks mostly to his 72.4 percent accuracy.
As long as the Spartans can put pressure on Nelson and Fales is given the time to find open receivers, expect the hosts to come out on top this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 27, BYU 21
11/14 10:49:00 ET
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