Once we have gone around the SEC and previewed the national games of interest, the most consequential contests in college football all have been covered, but each outing played in the sport is important in its own way . . . with one notable exception.
Each week, there is one game so pointless and uninspiring that I refuse to predict a winner because I am unwilling to take the time to check the box score afterward to find out which team emerged triumphant. This game is known as the national game of disinterest, and this week’s recipient of this dubious recognition is . . .
2010 is shaping up to be the year of the mid-major. The latest BlogPoll has the Utah Utes in the top ten, the TCU Horned Frogs in the top five, and the Boise St. Broncos at No. 2 as the second-leading recipient of first-place votes. The Air Force Falcons, East Carolina Pirates, Fresno St. Bulldogs, Hawaii Warriors, Nevada Wolf Pack, Northern Illinois Huskies, and San Diego St. Aztecs all received votes from participating bloggers.
Brigham Young and Wyoming, though, missed the boat. Both teams sport 2-5 overall ledgers, and the Cougars and the Cowboys have just one Mountain West win between them. BYU is tied with the Colorado St. Rams and the UNLV Rebels for fifth place in the nine-team league, while Wyoming languishes in last place, behind a New Mexico Lobos outfit that is winless through six games this season.
The Cowboys have faced four opponents who were ranked at the time of the game; Wyoming lost the closest of those contests by a 24-point margin and scored 19 total points over the course of that quartet of outings. Out of 120 Division I-A teams, the Cowboys rank 100th in passing offense, 119th in rushing offense, 119th in scoring offense, and 120th in total offense.
The Cougars gave up 31 or more points in road losses to Air Force, Florida State, Texas Christian, and Utah State, for crying out loud. Brigham Young checks in at 82nd nationally in rushing offense, 97th in passing offense, 107th in total offense, and 115th in scoring offense. Amazingly, that actually makes BYU the more proficient of Saturday’s combatants at moving the football, but I don’t think you should be allowed to play in a stadium named for LaVell Edwards with numbers like those, which require shifting the emphasized syllable when pronouncing the word "offensive."
This weekend’s clash could be a golden opportunity for each of these anemic attacks, however. In the four major defensive statistical categories, BYU ranks in the top 50 in just one and in the top 90 in just two, while Wyoming barely made it into the top 75 in pass defense (where the Cowboys rank 74th), finished outside the top 90 in the other three, and didn’t even make the top 115 in total defense or run defense. Wyoming ranks last in the league in first downs, first downs allowed, red zone offense, rushing defense, rushing offense, scoring offense, third-down conversions, total defense, and total offense, while BYU brings up the rear in the Mountain West in red zone defense. Truly, this game pits the resistible force against the movable object.
There are some teams that play some good football in non-AQ conferences. These are not two of those teams. Teams that see "BYU" on their schedules can expect to struggle only slightly more than they would on Saturdays for which they see "BYE" on their schedules, while a strong case could be made for the proposition that Wyoming statistically is the worst team in Division I-A. I’m not picking this game because, when two teams this bad play one another instead of disbanding their programs in shame, no one goes home a winner.