Hall tosses 3 TDs, rallies No. 19 BYU past Utah State 38-26

Utah State v Brigham Young
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PROVO, Utah – BYU survived another slow start to avoid a potentially damaging loss to an instate rival.

Jaren Hall threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns to help the No. 19 Cougars to a 38-26 victory over Utah State on Thursday night.

Hall, who favored his right shoulder after a late hit near the end of the third quarter, has thrown for at least 250 yards in nine consecutive games. Kody Epps finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Christopher Brooks ran for 90 yards and a score on 11 carries.

BYU (4-1) beat Utah State (1-4) for the third straight time in the Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel. It wasn’t an easy task. The Cougars were blindsided early by energetic play by the Aggies on both sides of the ball.

“They were more physical than us. They had more energy than us,” BYU receiver Gunner Romney said. “It seems like they were more motivated to play. But luckily we went back and made some good adjustments at halftime and came out with a little more fire and we were able to get the job done.”

Cooper Legas threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns while adding 54 yards and another score on the ground to lead the Aggies. Legas, who filled in for injured starter Logan Bonner, also threw a pair of interceptions. Calvin Tyler, Jr. added 104 yards on 18 carries.

Bonner is sidelined with a season-ending foot injury, so Legas will be Utah State’s starting quarterback going forward after making his first career start against BYU.

“He’s waited for his opportunity and when it showed up, he did a phenomenal job,” Aggies coach Blake Anderson said. “I’m sure like any quarterback, there’s a couple of plays he’d love to have back. But, man, he gave us a chance to win.”

The Aggies lost their fourth straight game and fell to 6-65 against Top 25 teams.

Utah State took a 7-0 lead after Legas capped the Aggies’ opening drive with a 7-yard run. Things were on the verge of unraveling for Utah State after that early score.

BYU covered 65 yards in two plays – a 34 yard catch by Romney and 31-yard catch-and-run by Keanu Hill – to even the score. Then, Max Tooley reeled in a tipped pass from Legas and returned it 32 yards to give the Cougars their first lead at 14-7.

Utah State bounced back and shut down BYU’s offense after its initial drive. The Cougars went three-and-out on three consecutive possessions, opening the door for the Aggies to retake a 17-14 lead on a 14-yard catch by Brian Cobbs. BYU lost a total of nine yards on those three drives.

The Cougars found some life on offense again in the third quarter. Ethan Erickson snagged a high pass for a go-ahead 14-yard score to cap off BYU’s opening second-half drive. Then, on the Cougars’ next drive, Kody Epps caught three straight passes – culminating in an 8-yard score that extended BYU’s lead to 31-20.

BYU averaged 9.0 yards on 22 third quarter plays after totaling only 107 yards on 19 plays during the first half.

“We just came out with intent to keep the energy up and come out full speed, taking shots and trying to move the ball, get things rolling for our offense and help our defense,” Epps said. “When we make plays on offense, it helps our defense. Everything starts to mesh and fall together. That was the biggest thing.”

The Cougars finally got their running game going in the fourth quarter. Brooks scored on an 18-yard run to cap off six straight running plays and give BYU a 38-20 lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

Utah State: Turnovers continued to be a problem for the Aggies. An interception return gave BYU its first lead early in the first quarter while a red zone fumble only a few seconds into the second quarter killed a potential scoring drive.

BYU: The Cougars’ running game woes resurfaced in the first half. BYU did not gain positive yardage on a running play until late in the second quarter and tallied minus-21 rushing yards before halftime. It was the fewest rushing yards in a half for BYU since tallying minus-28 rushing yards against Marshall in the second half of the 1999 Motor City Bowl.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

BYU could move up in the AP Top 25 after winning its second straight game.

UP NEXT

Utah State: Hosts Air Force on Oct. 8.

BYU: Plays Notre Dame in Las Vegas on Oct. 8.

Nix puts up 5 TDs, No. 25 Oregon takes down No. 12 BYU 41-20

BYU v Oregon
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EUGENE, Ore. – Bo Nix likened himself to a point guard for Oregon.

He certainly scored like one. Nix threw for two touchdowns and ran for three more to lead No. 25 Oregon to a 41-20 victory over No. 12 BYU on Saturday.

The victory extended Oregon’s winning streak at Autzen Stadium to 21 games, the third-longest in the nation.

Nix, a transfer from Auburn, completed 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards and ran for 35 yards on nine carries. Terrance Ferguson caught both of Nix’s touchdown passes and finished with 24 yards receiving.

“I felt like I didn’t do anything different, just went out there and played the game, let it come to me,” Nix said. “At the end of the day I’m a point guard, with some great positions around me, great skill players. So my job is kind of easy: Knowing what to do with the ball, knowing who to give the ball to, and then letting those guys do their thing.”

Jaren Hall threw for 305 yards and two scores for BYU (2-1), which was coming off a big win at home over then-No. 9 Baylor that moved the Cougars up nine spots in the AP Top 25. They struggled on the ground against the Ducks, mustering just 61 rushing yards.

“We just didn’t play as good as we should have starting off. Had a good first play, had some momentum, just didn’t finish the drive, and just kind of let things get out of hand offensively the next couple of drives,” Hall said.

The Ducks (2-1) rebounded from a season-opening loss to Georgia with a 70-14 win at home over Eastern Washington last weekend.

Nix ran two yards for a touchdown to give the Ducks an early lead. Camden Lewis added a 28-yard field goal to give Oregon a 10-0 lead after the opening quarter.

Isaac Rex hauled down a pass from quarterback Jaren Hall for a 28-yard BYU touchdown early in the second. Oregon answered on the next drive when Nix found Troy Franklin with a 50-yard pass to get close, then ran on another 2-yard keeper to make it 17-7.

Nix fired a 15-yard TD pass to Ferguson in the end zone to give Oregon a 24-7 lead heading into halftime. Nix added a 6-yard keeper early in the second half and found Ferguson for a 9-yard scoring pass to make it 38-7.

Ty Thompson replaced Nix late in the third quarter.

BYU closed to within 38-14 on Hall’s 18-yard scoring pass to Kody Epps – Epps’ first touchdown as a Cougar.

BYU intercepted Thompson on the Oregon 30 and were helped by a pass interference call, leading to Hall’s 2-yard scoring pass to Chris Brooks. A 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Nix returned on Oregon’s next series and the drive was capped by Lewis’ 25-yard field goal to cap scoring.

“One of my past coaches told me that pressure is a privilege, and so I’ve really taken that to heart, and there’s nothing more true in my opinion,” Nix said. “When you have a lot of pressure it means that people believe in you, people believe you can do it, or you wouldn’t have pressure at all.”

THE TAKEAWAY

BYU: The Cougars were shorthanded because of key injuries. Starting receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney remained out. Nacua was a game-time decision because of a sore right ankle. The Cougars were also without starting defensive linemen Tyler Batty and Earl Tuioti-Mariner. … Jake Oldroyd missed a 38-yard field goal in the opening half, his third straight miss. … BYU was 5-0 against the Pac-12 last season.

Oregon: BYU honored Oregon tight end Spencer Webb, who died in an offseason accident, by running out of the tunnel with an Oregon flag with Webb’s No. 18…. Oregon now leads the series with BYU 4-3. The previous meeting between the two was in 2006 at the Las Vegas Bowl, a 38-8 victory for the Cougars.

THE LAST TIME

Saturday’s game was the first between two ranked teams at Autzen Stadium since 2018. And the last time BYU and Oregon played here was in 1990, when the unranked Ducks upset No. 4 BYU 32-16 in a meeting that featured two big-name quarterbacks. Oregon’s Bill Musgrave threw three touchdowns and ran for another. BYU’s Ty Detmer was sacked five times. It was one of just three losses for the Cougars that season.

UP NEXT

BYU: The Cougars host Wyoming next Saturday.

Oregon: The Ducks visit Washington State next Saturday.

No. 9 Baylor braces for loud noise, late night at No. 21 BYU

BYU v USF
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The marquee matchup featuring No. 9 Baylor and No. 21 BYU will be a loud one and a late one. Not to mention the last one as nonconference adversaries.

To prepare for BYU on Saturday night (kickoff: 10:15 p.m. EDT) and the thunderous clatter inside LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Bears have been blaring crowd noise at practice.

“They’re going to be juiced up,” Baylor wide receiver/kick returner Gavin Holmes said as the Bears make their first trek to Provo, Utah, since 1984. “But we can’t let the outside noise get into our circle. … It’s definitely going to be a big test for us.”

For the Cougars (1-0), this will be a final glimpse into the world of Big 12 football before joining the league next season. The Bears (1-0) are no ordinary team out of the Big 12 – they’re the defending champions. They’re a 12-win team from a year ago, which included a 38-24 win over BYU in Waco, Texas, and a victory in the Sugar Bowl.

This will be a good gauge to measure how they stack up. But the Cougars downplayed that sort of angle in a contest where they’re a 3 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

“All I have to say about that is that I’m just excited to play them,” BYU offensive lineman Blake Freeland said.

In the aftermath of Baylor’s win last season, one message resounded: The Cougars needed to get even stronger with a Big 12 schedule looming.

“I think we have done that,” defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea said. “On both sides of the ball, everybody looks better, feels better and is playing better.”

The last time Baylor’s football team played in Provo was 1984, when the LaVell Edwards-coached Cougars won 47-13 on their way to a 13-0 season and a national title. The Bears know full well what’s in store at the roaring stadium named after the legendary coach.

“It’s packed. It’s loud,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “That’s a storm we have to run into, and we’ve been talking about and preparing for that.”

SHAPEN SHARP

Baylor sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen was sharp in a 69-10 win over the University at Albany, throwing for 214 yards and two scores while running for another TD. Shapen’s poise certainly caught the attention of BYU coach Kalani Sitake.

“He looks like a veteran back there even though he’s still young,” Sitake said. “Baylor is a tough team to deal with especially when you mix that with a quarterback that’s accurate and has great composure.”

HALL SHARP, TOO

BYU QB Jaren Hall threw for 261 yards and two scores in a 50-21 win at South Florida. His experience stood out to Aranda.

“He’s going to be one of the better quarterbacks we’ll play all year,” Aranda said. “The film’s impressive in terms of the decisions he makes, and the throws he doesn’t take. He doesn’t put the team at risk. He was good last year. He’s better now.”

FAMILIAR FACES

The Cougars know all about Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who held the same role with BYU from 2018 to 2020. He helped mentor BYU standout and New York Jets QB Zach Wilson. Wilson was in the running for the Heisman Trophy in 2020 as he threw for 3,692 yards and 33 TDs.

Bears offensive line coach Eric Mateos also makes his return to Provo. He was in the same position with the Cougars.

NUMBERS, PART I

Over the program’s history, the Cougars are 5-22-1 against top-10 teams. Their last win was 24-21 at sixth-ranked Wisconsin in 2018.

The Bears are 26-33-1 as a ranked team versus another ranked team.

NUMBERS, PART II

Aranda isn’t reading too much into Baylor’s 5-1 record against ranked teams from a season ago.

“We don’t really look at the opponent that way,” the third-year Baylor coach said. “We talked about narrowing the focus, upping the quality and increasing the speed. Those are the things that can travel and can play when it’s third down there and you can’t hear anything.”