Exactly eight months ago today, BYU rallied late to knock off Tulsa 24-21 in the Armed Forces Bowl. Exactly four weeks ago today, the Cougars opened preseason camp. It has been a long, hot month, but the opener against Washington State (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN) is finally here.
My advance of the game, which can be found here, focused on its importance.
Every game is huge for the independent Cougars, but this is one of the six on the schedule that will define BYU's season.
There's plenty of intrigue, not the least of which is WSU coach Mike Leach's "return" to Provo with his Air Raid offense. If WSU gets up early and BYU is forced to match it throw-for-throw, we might be at LaVell Edwards Stadium until well past midnight.
We will see.
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The college football world's focus will clearly be on Provo tonight, and not by accident, according to BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU's players are pumped to be seen on national television, and I am sure WSU's players are, too.
"It makes it fun. It makes it fun for us. It makes it fun for those of us who are from different parts of the country, all our family and friends can watch it," said BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree. "Then, a lot of college football teams around the country are watching. So it is really cool, just knowing there will be a lot of eyes on us. Hopefully we will do well."
Said BYU running back Mike Alisa: "It's awesome, and being a Thursday game, the whole nation sees it because no one else is playing. So across the nation everyone will be watching ESPN and be watching BYU and Washington State play on Thursday night."
Speaking of Ogletree, he was once recruited by Mike Leach when Leach was the head coach at Texas Tech. Ogletree is from McKinney, Texas, near Dallas.
"I am not good friends with him, but yeah. I went out on a recruiting visit to Texas Tech. That was back when Bobby Knight was there. They had Bobby Knight talk to us, and everything. So it was a lot of fun. We watched a basketball game. It was a cool place -- cool atmosphere. I loved it," Ogletree said. "I have a ton of respect for him. He's always had a top-ranked [offense] where ever he has been. It is a huge challenge for us. We are ready to have an occasion to rise to, and I think we will do well."
Can BYU handle Washington State's offense and its excellent receivers such as Gabe Marks and Marquess Wilson? That's what it should come down to. Should be interesting.
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