Some analysts say that all you need to know about this weekend’s matchup is that the BYU Cougars have won their five home games this year by a 207-55 margin, and San Diego State has been outscored 202-47 in losing all five of its road contests. They are probably right.

However, there’s really more to figuring out this game than the potential margin of victory.

With a share of the MWC championship and a BCS invitation still a legitimate possibility if they finish the regular season 11-1, the Cougars cannot afford to overlook any opponent.

Key to defeating the Aztecs

1. Focus on this game and put it away quickly. The Cougars have two incredibly tough road games against Air Force and Utah after the contest with the Aztecs, but they can’t take this one for granted.

Two months ago, San Diego State went to South Bend, Ind., and nearly upset Notre Dame. Six losses later, it can be argued that the Aztecs are totally deflated and incapable of putting up any sort of battle like they did against the Fighting Irish. That is precisely why the Cougars need to get after the Aztecs and put the game out of reach within the first 40 minutes of regulation.

Aside from their only win (over Idaho), the only team besides Notre Dame to allow the Aztecs to hang around was Colorado State. The Aztecs raced to an early lead and fought the Rams all the way before losing 38-34. In that game, the Aztecs’ Atiyyah Henderson rushed for 177 yards and Ryan Lindley passed for 166 (24 of 33 with a touchdown and a pick).

2. That’s it. What—no other keys to winning this game? Well, no disrespect to San Diego State, but the fact is that the Cougars haven’t lost at home since the end of the 2005 season, 18 games ago. This is their last game at home this year. They have survived two consecutive last-minute shootouts the past couple of weeks, and they are extremely motivated to put a complete game together and use it as a launching point for the final two contests of the season. The defense is going to look better, and there’s no stopping Max Hall, Austin Collie, Dennis Pitta and Harvey Unga in this game.

Conversely, the Aztecs are playing for little more than scant pride and a desire to get the season over with.


BYU’s offense is humming and the defense is struggling, but both units will turn in solid performances against San Diego State in the final home game of 2008. The only question mark in this game is how long coach Bronco Mendenhall will keep the starters on the field. BYU 49, SDSU 10