BYU's ranked match up with Boise State provides Heisman candidate Wilson with a statement opportunity
The BYU-Boise State game has become an important meeting for both schools in the last decade; some may even consider it a burgeoning rivalry. Boise is 5-3 against BYU since 2012 with the last two meetings being decided by a combined 6 points. The large proportion of LDS members in Idaho (24% of state population) make this a matter of split loyalty for some Idahoans adding fuel to the fire between these schools. This of course is all tangential to the fact that both teams are national brands with long track records of success. This season we happen to find both teams ranked in the top 25 and competing for opportunities to play in a New Year's 6 Bowl or even the College Football Playoff. Boise State has a full slate of Mountain West games remaining on their schedule while BYU in contrast has had to cobble together a schedule as most schools are only playing conference games. For the Cougs, Boise represents the only ranked match up on their schedule, unless San Diego State remains unbeaten, and is an absolute must win to keep national title hopes alive.
Playoff odds are not the only accolade on the line for BYU tonight. Quarterback Zach Wilson's outstanding season has propelled him to the forefront of the Heisman race; he is no longer just the dark horse, he has an excellent shot of bring a trophy back to Provo for the first time since Ty Detmer in 1990. Wilson is completing a ridiculous 74.6% of his passes for 2,152 yards and 19 TDs along with 152 yards rushing and 5 more TDs. He is in good company as well, being one of only four QBs with over 2000 yards thus far ranking behind (Gabriel/UCF, Buechele/SMU, Jones/Alabama), (Gabriel/UCF, Ehlinger/Texas) in passing TD's, (Jones/Alabama) in completion %, and (Jones/Alabama, McCall/Coastal Carolina) in total passer rating. The difference is only Mac Jones of Alabama leads an undefeated team with national title odds (sorry Coastal). Unfortunately for Jones, Alabama's talent means he has his own teammates to compete with for the Heisman which can often detract from one's own Heisman chances, i.e. Trevor Lawrence/Travis Etienne, Jalen Hurts/Ceedee Lamb, Justin Field/JK Dobbins. Not to say BYU doesn't have high caliber talent, but players that are perceived to be carrying the load often stand a better chance of winning the Heisman than a Trevor or a Tua, just look to Lamar Jackson, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, or Cam Newton. Wilson currently sits tied for fourth best odds with Florida's Kyle Trask at +3300, however given Florida's prolonged absence due to COVID could ultimately hurt Trask.
Much like my forecast for the BYU-Houston game, BYU need not just win but win in a convincing fashion as this could be their last chance to impress the playoff committee. Should the Cougs even be in consideration for the playoff, that will mean Wilson's odds at the Heisman dramatically improve. Zach Wilson's opportunity to make his case for the Heisman will never be better than tonight. ESPN has hyped up this game a tremendous amount and hopefully America will stay up late enough to catch it. Baylor Romney was the hero of last year's upset over #25 Boise State in Wilson's absence so for Wilson to be able to lead the Cougs to victory over the schools he was once committed to will make it that much sweeter. Wilson carries on the QBU legacy for the Cougars and will once again dazzle tonight in a must win game for BYU to improve to 8-0 for the first time since 2001.