Zach Wilson

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BYU’s Zach Wilson throws perfect game in rout of Western Michigan in Potato Bowl

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The term “perfect game” is a baseball term, but it seems justifiable to use it to describe the performance of BYU freshman quarterback Zach Wilson in BYU’s blowout of Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday afternoon in Boise, Idaho. Wilson completed 18 of 18 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns as BYU (7-6) blew away Western Michigan (7-6) by a score of 49-18.

Behind the confident passing of Wilson, BYU took over control of the game in the second half. After trailing the Broncos 10-7 at halftime, Wilson quickly got the Cougars on the move with a 48-yard pass to Neil Pau’u and later ended the drive with a touchdown pass to Dylan Collie to put BYU in front. They never looked back. Wilson connected with Collie again on BYU’s next offensive series to build on the lead. Wilson later tossed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Aleva Hifo to extend the lead to 28-10 as BYU was in the midst of scoring four touchdowns in the third quarter.

Wilson did throw an incompletion on BYU’s next possession, but a defensive holding penalty on Western Michigan wiped out the incompletion on the stat sheet to keep Wilson’s perfect afternoon intact. Wilson’s fourth touchdown pass brought him within one completion of tying the all-time record for most consecutive passes to start a bowl game of 19, previously set by Mike Bobo of Georgia (now the head coach of Colorado State) in the 1998 Outback Bowl.

Wilson’s day would come to an end without another pass attempt. With a 42-18 lead midway through the fourth quarter, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake opted to bring in senior quarterback Tanner Mangum to wrap up his collegiate career. While Wilson was stealing the show on offense, BYU’s Sione Takitaki was having himself a day on defense with 19 tackles in the game.

While the season may not have gone quite as well as some BYU fans would have hoped to see, the Cougars did end the season with a winning record and on a winning note after winning just four games in 2017. Wilson’s bowl performance will have optimism riding high in Provo for next season as well. The regular season will start with some stiff challenges once again next fall with a home game against Utah to open the year followed by a road trip to Tennessee and then a home game against USC and Washington in consecutive weeks.

Western Michigan will go back to the drawing board a bit to try putting together a better season. Since going to the Cotton Bowl with an undefeated regular season a couple of years ago, the Broncos have gone 13-12 the last two seasons under head coach Tim Lester. The Broncos lost four of their last five games with the loss in the Potato Bowl with a couple of blowouts and a victory over the MAC champion Northern Illinois making it difficult to project just what to expect from the Broncos next season. This was a game that just got out of hand for Western Michigan after halftime and Wilson was just on a different level passing the football for BYU.

Western Michigan leading BYU in defensive first half in Potato Bowl

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After trailing at the end of the first quarter, Western Michigan has scored 10 straight points to take a 10-7 lead on BYU into halftime of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.

Western Michigan worked the clock well on the game’s opening drive by taking off nearly half of the time in the first quarter but the Broncos were stuffed on a fourth-down run with two yards to go to bring an end to the 14-play drive with nothing to show for it. After each team’s defense had a strong and short series, BYU capitalized on a shanked punt that traveled just nine yards off the foot of Nick Mihalic. Starting the ball at the Western Michigan 27-yard line, Zach Wilson completed a 26-yard pass to Dylan Collie on BYU’s second play from scrimmage on the drive for a touchdown.

Later in the second quarter, Western Michigan opted once again to roll the dice on fourth down with just a few yards to go. This time went much more to their liking with Jamauri Bogan bouncing off to the left side and getting a block for a 33-yard touchdown to bring the game even at 7-7. The Broncos added a late field goal to take their first lead of the game shortly before halftime.

BYU’s Wilson has completed all eight of his pass attempts so far, with 95 yards and a touchdown to show for it. Western Michigan’s Kaleb Eleby has been fairly accurate as well, although the yards for both quarterbacks aren’t racking up too many big plays with any regularity.

We could have another close game on our hands on this Friday, so stay tuned for the second half.

Report suggests BYU will make QB change vs. Hawaii

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After two straight losses by at least 25 points, BYU is reportedly making a change at quarterback this week. According to a report from Jay Drew of The Salt Lake Tribune, BYU will start freshman Zach Wilson this week when the Cougars play Hawaii at home.

The change is not one that should be all that shocking considering the play of Tanner Mangum in recent weeks. A couple of unfortunate turnovers in BYU’s loss to Utah State led to BYU head coach Kalani Sitake to leave the door open for changes with starting positions, quarterback being the most likely change for a team in need of a spark.

Wilson has attempted just six passes this season with four completions for 64 yards and a touchdown. He has also rushed four times for 25 yards, supposedly giving another element to the BYU offense that Mangum has not been able to provide.

BYU enters the week with a record of 3-3. With some challenging games remaining in the second half of the year, Sitake needs to make decisions he feels puts BYU in the best spot to get to the six-win bowl requirement in order for BYU to have the opportunity to play in a bowl game at the end of the year.

A home game against Hawaii, who enters this weekend already at 6-1, could be a rough time for a transition, but if Wilson is the spark BYU needs, then the Cougars could be going bowling.