Dick Harmon: Underdog BYU would do well to avoid injuries against Mississippi State (+weekend’s picks)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — It’s a peaceful, green-laced countryside, filled with friendly southern folk who love their cowbells and will ring them loud and often come BYU’s Saturday visit to Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium.

Cowbells. They’re sold at roadside stands, at gas stations, wielded as prized emblems of fandom. Yet, as loud and obnoxious as their clang can be, it will be the least of BYU’s concerns come Saturday.

Mississippi State (3-2), fresh off losses to Georgia and Auburn on consecutive weeks, is coming off a bye week and is a three-touchdown favorite over the 1-5 Cougars.

For BYU, there are losses, then, there are losses.

A key aspect of this game is that the Cougars must avoid injuries heading into another road trip next week to 1-5 East Carolina. That is a much easier assignment for BYU than these Bulldogs.

Kalani Sitake’s team has lost key personnel dating back to August when running back Ula Tolutau (foot), tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau (foot), cornerback Austin McChesney (ACL), and linebacker Francis Bernard (suspension) couldn’t start the season.

What followed were injuries to running back KJ Hall, safety Zayne Anderson, deep snapper Matt Foley and another running back Kavika Fonua. While Totulau made his first appearance in the Wisconsin game, injuries took out starting safety Matt Hadley and quarterback Tanner Mangum. While Mangum returned against Boise State, the offense lost receiver Talon Shumway the same week. Both Hadley and Shumway are not listed on this week’s two-deep chart for Saturday’s game.

In the first half of the USU game, middle linebacker and captain Butch Pau’u broke his hand in three places and had surgery with screws inserted. If he plays today, he’ll wear a cast. In that same Aggie game, quarterback Beau Hoge left with a concussion after his second start of the season. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Tevita Mo’Unga …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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