Cougs set to host … Cougs

WSU welcomes BYU to Palouse for first game without Rolovich



WSU linebacker Francisco Mauigoa celebrates a win after a college football game Saturday at Martin Stadium.

TOM ABBOTT, Evergreen sports editor

WSU is set to play BYU at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Martin Stadium to end a three-game homestand.

WSU is currently on a hot streak, winning the last three games, all of which were Pac-12 matchups. Now with a 4-3 record, WSU hopes to add another win this weekend.

BYU comes into Pullman with a 5-2 record, adding both of their losses to the record in the previous two weeks. 

Last weekend, BYU lost to No. 20 Baylor. Although BYU lost, quarterback Jaren Hall had a solid performance. Hall threw for 342 yards and no interceptions against the Bears. Hall has consistently improved from week to week and will look to do so yet again against WSU. 

Early this week, former WSU head coach Nick Rolovich was fired with cause because of his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Rolovich is replaced by interim head coach Jake Dickert. Dickert will be adding to his responsibilities as defensive coordinator. 

“I think our players and the unit we have created, I think those guys deserve my best,” Dickert said. 

The Crimson and Gray have a 41.3 percent chance of victory, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. Although seemingly low, WSU’s projections this week are better than they have been in the past four games straight.

Statistics-wise, WSU and BYU are quite similar. BYU is averaging 26.7 points per game, just a point better than the WSU average of 25.7 points per game. The teams also have the exact same average yards allowed per game at 391.9 yards. 

Saturday’s game will be an interesting challenge for WSU after losing Rolovich. The game will be especially hard for the athletes, losing their head coach a little over halfway through the season.

“From an X’s and O’s standpoint, we’re going to give our guys an opportunity to do what they do best,” Dickert said. 

WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura has been a dependable asset for the team’s success and will need to continue his passing prowess against BYU. Last weekend against Stanford, de Laura did a good job of limiting bad throws, accounting for zero interceptions for the first time since the season opener against Utah State.

The former No. 10 ranked team in the Associated Press polls, BYU lost their ranking after the upset loss against Boise State two weekends ago. Now unranked, the BYU Cougars will be one step closer to inching their way back into the Top 25 with a win in Martin Stadium.

BYU’s success will depend on limiting completed passes between de Laura and wide receivers Calvin Jackson Jr. and Travell Harris. Coming into week eight, Jackson Jr. leads the team 476 yards, followed closely by Harris with 465 yards.

The BYU run-game is led by running back Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier has 136 carries on the year accounting for 675 total yards. Similar to WSU’s game plan against Oregon State, the defensive line will have to fill gaps on the line of scrimmage to stop Allgeier’s rushing potential this Saturday. 

The WSU defensive line has been in the backfield quite a bit this season, most notably Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr. Jackson has been selected as the Pac-12 defensive lineman twice in the last three weeks, most recently last week for his performance against Stanford.

Saturday’s matchup is set to kickoff at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.