Written By: Ryan Lippert|@Lippert42
As we enter the final weekend of the 2020 college football regular season for a lot of teams, there is still a lot to be played for. Conference championships, bowl games, and most important spots in the College Football Playoff are up for grabs. This weekend’s biggest game is one that originally wasn’t even going to happen between two undefeated teams that are still trying to earn more respect. The BYU Cougars were set to face Liberty this weekend but that game was unfortunately canceled. Luckily for college football fans, they found an even more intriguing opponent in the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. As I said, both teams are still undefeated but are still trying to earn the respect from the polls as BYU sits at 13th in the College Football Playoff rankings and Coastal Carolina is at 18th. This is a huge opportunity for both teams to make a statement towards the end of the season. With that being said, let’s take a look at this week’s College Football Game of the Week between the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and BYU Cougars.
Wilson Leads High Powered BYU Offense
While the BYU Cougars are an excellent football team across the board, much of their success can be credited to the outstanding play of their junior quarterback, Zach Wilson. Wilson has taken the country by storm as he has placed himself near the top of the Heisman race and also put himself right in the discussion of the top quarterbacks for the 2021 NFL Draft. He has put up tremendous numbers this season, throwing for 2,724 yards with 26 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Wilson has also shown his ability as a ball carrier with 191 rushing yards and eight scores. While he is a very talented quarterback, Wilson has benefited tremendously from a very talented group of wide receivers. This group is led by junior Dax Milne who leads the Cougars with 49 receptions for 906 yards and six touchdowns. Milne is joined in the starting receiver core by two other talented juniors in Gunner Romney and Neil Pau’u. They also have an impressive redshirt freshman tight end in Isaac Rex who leads the team with eight touchdown catches.
Wilson will be facing a Coastal Carolina secondary that has played very well so far this season. The Chanticleers have allowed 181.89 passing yards per game and eight total passing touchdowns while coming away with eleven interceptions this year. This secondary is led by junior cornerback D’Jordan Strong who has five interceptions this season. Jordan will be joined by three other juniors in Derick Bush at the opposite corner, Brayden Matts at free safety, and Alex Spillum at strong safety.
Along with their electric passing attack, the Cougars have also found great success on the ground this season. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Allgeier has been the lead back this year with 118 carries for 851 yards and eleven touchdowns. Junior Lopini Katoa will also see some meaningful carries.
The Cougars will be going up against a Coastal Carolina defense that has had their ups and downs against the run this season. They have given up 140.3 rushing yards per game and ten total rushing touchdowns so far. Their front seven is led by a very talented defensive end in Tarron Jackson who was just recently invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Jackson has 44 total tackles and has been a force in the backfield with a team-leading 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He will be joined on the defensive line by sophomore Jerrod Clark at nose and fellow senior C.J. Brewer at tackle. Behind them, senior inside linebacker Silas Kelly leads the team with 67 total tackles with five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and one interception. Kelly will be joined in the linebacker core by fellow senior Teddy Gallagher on the inside with juniors Jeffrey Gunter and Enock Makonzo on the outside.
Can the Chanticleers Keep up on the Scoreboard?
Much like the Cougars, Coastal Carolina has had an impressive passing attack this season led by redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall. McCall has had an outstanding first year as a starter, throwing for 1,747 yards with 20 touchdowns and only one interception. He also has 365 rushing yards for five touchdowns. Like Wilson, McCall hasn’t done it alone as he has a very talented group of receivers himself, led by junior Jaivon Heiligh. Heiligh leads the team with 41 receptions for 682 yards and eight touchdowns. He will be joined in the passing attack by senior receivers Sam Denmark and Greg Latushko, along with junior tight end Isaiah Likely.
McCall will be up against a BYU defense that has been solid against the pass, for the most part, this year. The Cougars have given up 204.2 passing yards per game and 12 total passing touchdowns while coming away with seven interceptions. Their secondary is led by senior strong safety Troy Warner who has two interceptions this season. Warner will be joined in the secondary by three fellow seniors in Zayne Alexander at free safety, Chris Wilcox at the left corner, and Kavika Fonua at the nickel, along with junior Keenan Ellis at the right corner.
The Chanticleers have also found some luck in the run game this season as they have three talented backs in senior CJ Marable, sophomore Reese White, and junior Shermari Jones. Marable leads the trio with 119 carries for 592 yards and eight touchdowns. White has 63 carries for 402 yards and five touchdowns while Jones has run the ball 68 times for 341 yards and three scores.
This rushing attack will face one of their toughest tasks of the season as they are going up against a BYU defense that has been stingy against the run. The Cougars have only allowed 89.1 rushing yards per game and three total rushing touchdowns this season. Their front seven is led by a talented senior linebacker in Isaiah Kafusi who leads the team with 59 total tackles along with 4.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Kafusi will be joined in the linebacker core by three sophomores in Keenan Pili at mike with Max Tooley and Payton Wilgar on the outside. Sophomore George Udo plays in what they call their “cinco” position which is more like a linebacker/defensive back hybrid.
As I have already mentioned, there is a lot of respect to be earned for both teams in this game as they are both talented and most importantly undefeated but are still ranked too low in the College Football rankings. I see this game being an offensive showdown as both teams have very talented quarterbacks who can spread the ball all around the field. However, I give the Cougars the edge as simply the more talented team. Zach Wilson will continue to do Zach Wilson things and make the huge plays down the stretch to help the Cougars pull away with this one. On top of that, this Cougars defense is good enough to shut down the run for the Chanticleers which will put even more pressure on their freshman quarterback. I have the Cougars pulling away with this one in the fourth quarter in a 38-24 victory with hopes of waking up some voters.