LAS VEGAS -- If this is a rebuilding year for BYU, which had to replace star quarterback Zach Wilson and four other NFL draft picks from an 11-win team, the plans are ahead of schedule.
A big reason for the Cougars’ sudden surge is redshirt sophomore Jaren Hall, the successor to Wilson, who was the No. 2 overall pick by the Jets. Hall is proving to be the real deal as a passing and running threat while triggering BYU’s 2-0 start.
Before joining a new-look Big 12 Conference, the Cougars are running with a few Pac-12 opponents. BYU handled Arizona in the season opener before stopping a nine-game losing streak to rival Utah with a 26-17 upset win last week in Provo, where fans stormed the field and coach Kalani Sitake celebrated on the sideline like there was no tomorrow.
But after a wild party, there’s usually a hangover, and this looks like a classic flat spot for the Cougars as they prepare to host Arizona State. Sharp money is fading BYU, which is a home underdog mostly because its situational spot is so concerning.
Still, the Cougars have been more impressive than the Sun Devils through two games. Hall has passed for 347 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 128 yards. He’s playing at a higher level than Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels, who was able to coast through blowout wins against Southern Utah and UNLV yet now faces a much tougher BYU defense.