Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau’u (2) hauls in a touchdown over North Alabama Lions defensive back Gerrell Green (28) during a game in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
On a day when the college football world’s attention was on more high-profile games around the country, No. 8 BYU quietly went about its business in an easy 66-14 victory over FCS North Alabama on Saturday.
The win moved the Cougars to 9-0 on the year just days before the first College Football Playoff rankings are unveiled next Tuesday.
Junior quarterback Zach Wilson played just two quarters against the Lions, and he made the most of those limited snaps, leading the Cougars to six first-half touchdowns and a 42-7 lead at the break. Wilson completed 10 of 16 passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns, while adding an impressive 33-yard run after nearly getting sacked for a safety.
BYU showed off its most balanced offensive attack of the season (by the closeness of numbers, anyway), rolling up 555 yards with 277 passing and 278 rushing. The Cougars could have been better on third down — they were 3 of 7 — but still averaged 9.4 yards per play and 10.2 yards on first-down plays, with a pair of 50-yard passes and three 30-yard runs.
Tyler Allgeier paced the rushing attack, going for 141 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. Dax Milne had another solid — if not quiet — receiving day, with four catches for 101 yards, and four Cougars scored twice — that included Isaac Rex, Kavika Fonua and Miles Davis, in addition to Allgeier.
The Cougars punted twice in the second half with reserves in the game, but other than that, BYU did what it wanted offensively.
A look over the stat sheet shows that the BYU defense kept North Alabama largely in check, even if the Cougars bent a bit at times. BYU allowed the Lions to pass for 305 yards, and the visitors had 21 first downs while holding a nearly seven-minute edge in time of possession.
Still, the Cougars rarely let North Alabama get near scoring position: the Lions had just one red-zone visit, scoring a touchdown. BYU forced three North Alabama turnovers, and the Cougars turned each one into a touchdown.
That included a forced fumble from Payton Wilgar that fellow linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi picked up and returned 50 yards to set up a first-and-goal for the BYU offense in the second quarter. Malik Moore had his second career interception, and first of the season, while Micah Harper recovered a fumble late.
Like the offense, the defense was able to play well into its depth chart, and one highlight that led to was junior defensive lineman Earl Tuioti-Mariner making the first two sacks of his career, on back-to-back plays no less, including the latter on a fourth-down play in BYU territory.
Yes, the Cougars would have looked more impressive if they shut out the FCS opponent. And yes, the BYU defense …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News