Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.
Boise • They went 0-3 against their stated rivals — Utah, Utah State and Boise State — and lost three times at home.
Can the BYU Cougars (6-6) really call the 2018 football season, which concludes Friday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (2 p.m. MST, ESPN) a success?
They can’t if they lose to Western Michigan at 2 p.m. MST as 12-point favorites in a game that will be televised nationally by ESPN.
You simply cannot lose to two Mid-American Conference teams in the span of two months — one at home, the other at a neutral site close to home — and say you were happy with how the season went.
So all the pressure is on BYU at Albertsons Stadium, along with the specter of posting the program’s second straight losing season.
“Practices have been helpful. They’ve been intense and serious,” said BYU offensive lineman Tristen Hoge. “I expect us to play our best.”
Anything less than a win would be another sobering blow to coach Kalani Sitake’s three-year tenure. His record at BYU is 19-19. Will he start the 2019 season against Utah on Aug. 29 with a winning or losing record?
The latter would not be pretty.
Our stories from the past week
• BYU’s women’s volleyball team, which played well in the Provo Regional with sweeps of Florida and Texas, did not take that same level of play to Minneapolis, and was swept easily by eventual champion Stanford in a Final Four match. Trib
• Believe it or not, BYU and UNLV were once rivals on the basketball court. We took a look back at what caused all the angst in the 1990s and 2000s. Trib
• BYU’s basketball team renewed what was once a fierce rivalry with UNLV on Saturday in Sin City, and sustained one of the most heartbreaking losses in Dave Rose’s tenure. Trib
• We took a closer look at the Western Michigan Broncos, BYU’s opponent in Friday’s bowl game, in this piece. Trib
• There were no big surprises for BYU Wednesday as early signing period for college football recruits began across the country. And that’s a good thing for the Cougars, who inked all but two of the 16 players who had committed to them. Trib
• Catch up on what the Cougars are doing in Boise, when they are not practicing, in this piece I penned amid Wednesday’s early signing period opening. Trib
* The Deseret News got some interesting comments from BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe — via email — on the state of the Cougars’ football program. Dnews
• BYU football recruits and coaches found themselves rescuing a driver who had slid off the road during their annual snowmobiling trip. Herald
Boise-area native Tanner Mangum isn’t likely to see playing time Friday in the bowl game, but he’s been the subject of many articles and television news reports this week as he returns to his hometown for his final game as a member of the BYU football team. Here’s what coach Kalani Sitake said about the senior’s attitude since he was benched midway through the season:
“It has been really nice to see him help, not just Zach [Wilson], but the other quarterbacks that are starting to make huge strides. That’s because of how he leads and how he shows an example," Sitake said. "I am sure he is not happy about the change, but you couldn’t tell if you watched him practice and the way he interacts with his teammates and the way he keeps speaking up and teaching the young guys. … Of course, you’ve seen other programs where the backup quarterback gets benched and then he immediately leaves. There are tons of [players] that have done that. They voiced their displeasure. He’s been nothing but positive. That’s a huge compliment to his family and his upbringing. For us, we are the benefactors of it all and I am just thankful he is a player on our team and I get to be his coach.”
• Coach Jeff Judkins’ women’s basketball team is quietly having a decent preseason, having posted a 7-3 record heading into Friday’s matinee game against Northern Colorado (5-3) at the Marriott Center. Tipoff is at noon so fans can also take in the 2 p.m. bowl game from Boise.
The Cougars have defeated UC Riverside, Eastern Washington, Utah State, TCU, Cal Baptist, Utah Valley and Colorado State and given undefeated Utah one of its biggest tests of the season.
• Coach Dave Rose’s BYU men’s basketball team has had a week to stew over the overtime loss to UNLV last Saturday — Noah Robotham’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer sunk the Cougars — and take final exams. The Cougars get back on the court Saturday at the home of another former Mountain West Conference foe, San Diego State.
Tipoff at Viejas Arena is at 5 p.m. MST and the game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.