PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – After shellacking South Florida 50-21 Saturday night, 50-21, the competition is about to get a whole lot tougher for BYU.
The #25 Cougars host #10 BYU in what could be the only game in the nation featuring two ranked teams.
BYU played well against the Bulls, but knows it will have to play better to beat the Bears.
“I learned that we’re a really good team,” said defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea. “I feel like we can hang in with anybody.”
“There were some really good positive things that I saw from the game in all three phases, and also some missed opportunities,” added BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “I feel good about some of the points that we put up, but I’m looking at the opportunities that we missed.”
BYU is going to see Baylor on a regular basis once it joins the Big 12 Conference. But there’s no question the Cougars want a little redemption after losing to the Bears 38-24 last year in Waco.
“It definitely sucks that they got us last year,” said tight end Dallin Holker. “It’s definitely something that you think about. But it’s just fun playing against a team Baylor and how good they are.”
“We circle every single game of the season, and everybody looks forward to every single game,” Fauatea said. “But I guess you could say Baylor is the game that everybody is looking forward to. They’re a top-25 team. They have a great program. There’s nothing more you can ask for.”
“We’re familiar with them,” said Sitake. “They’re a really good team. They’re obviously ranked, and they’re the standard for the Big 12. They’re the conference champs and we get to have them here in Provo.”
This may become a rivalry in the future, but for now, BYU is still stinging from last year’s defeat.
“It wasn’t competitive enough last year to call it a rivalry,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. “They pushed us around and bullied us and they had their way with us. I don’t think you really call it a rivalry until you earn some respect.”
“Maybe in the future as the Big 12 rolls around that could definitely become a thing,” said quarterback Jaren Hall. “But for me personally, not really. But I respect the heck out of them.”
Baylor know LaVell Edwards Stadium is going to be rocking for the home opener, but the Bears have played in front of many big-time atmospheres over the years.
“I think there is a home field advantage there,” said Baylor head coach Dave Aranda. “That’s a storm that we have to run into, and we’ve been talking about that.”
These two programs could become rivals in the Big 12, but for now their is mutual respect.
“They’re a program that we want to be like,” Sitake said. “You look at the things that they’re doing and the resources they have available to them, I think it’s a great standard for us to look at if we want to compete and be conference champs.”
Puka Nacua scored two touchdowns in the season opener against South Florida, but then suffered a sprained ankle. Fellow wide receiver Gunner Romney didn’t play at all in the opener. So will either player be available against Baylor?
“I wouldn’t tell you if I knew, but I don’t know yet,” Roderick said. “It will probably be a game time decision.”
BYU and Baylor are set to kick off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday night in Provo.