Provo • After winning their fifth straight game Friday night to further distance themselves from that brutal 1-2 start, the BYU Cougars could use a little R & R, coach Bronco Mendenhall said as he looked ahead to the bye this week.
He wasn't talking about rest and relaxation, though. He was talking about rest and recovery.
The Cougars (6-2) got nicked up pretty good in their 37-20 win over Boise State, losing one of the their best defensive players, safety Daniel Sorensen, to a concussion midway through the second quarter and first-time starting cornerback Mike Hague to a shoulder injury (twice) in the second half.
They are also still depleted along the offensive line; center Terrance Alletto missed his third straight game, while right guard Ryker Mathews didn't start, but saw some action against the Broncos. Another starting offensive lineman, Brock Stringham, was also held out.
"I think we are gaining momentum and I think we are making progress," Mendenhall said. "But our team is going to need some rest and recovery."
BYU's next game is on Nov. 9 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison against Wisconsin, which had a bye this past weekend and is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 released Sunday, and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The Cougars also got some votes, and would be tied for 28th in the AP Poll and tied for 30th in the coaches poll if either extended that far.
Kickoff time and television broadcast plans for the BYU-Wisconsin game are expected to be announced Monday. Always craving exposure, BYU hopes ABC picks up the game, which is a possibility.
Certainly, the Cougars know they will be facing their most physical opponent this season, or at least since the 20-13 loss to Utah on Sept. 21. Coincidentally, that game also came after a bye week, and the coaching staff was criticized in some circles for not using the entire two weeks to prepare for the Utes.
"I don't have the model down yet for what we will do through the bye week, but there will be some healing, some conditioning, some football, and then, when appropriate, starting to build into our game versus Wisconsin," Mendenhall said.
Getting Sorensen and Hague back will be important, because the Badgers have one of the best offenses the Cougars have faced in years. Former Utah State coach Gary Andersen's crew ranks 11th in the country in total offense, 513.6 yards per game.
The Badgers, who play at Iowa this week, are eighth in the country in rushing (296.9 ypg.) and no doubt watched Boise State average 4.9 yards per rush against the Cougars last week.
The Cougars mostly controlled the line of scrimmage against Boise State; doing that against a Big Ten team such as Wisconsin will be a mighty challenge. BYU is 12th in total offense (511.1 ypg.) and 14th in rushing offense (258.8 ypg.).
"I thought we played probably cleaner up front than we have for a while, maybe all this year," Mendenhall said of his piecemeal offensive line after the Cougars rushed for 229 yards against BSU and threw for 339. "I saw them substituting and rotating, etc., which is normal [for teams] against our tempo. But a lot of the inside, between-the-tackle runs were gaining more yards than what we had seen up to this point this year, and that's usual because of [dominating] the game physically."
BYU at Wisconsin
P Nov. 9
Kickoff • TBA
TV • TBA