Defense ruled the day when Boise State and BYU played a year ago. Both teams have good reason to expect a much different story this time around.
The Broncos will come into Provo on Friday night averaging 45.5 points in their last five games. Boise State tallied 557 yards of total offense -led by a career-high 222 yards and three touchdowns from sophomore RB Jay Ajayi - in a 34-17 comeback win over Nevada last week.
BYU is proving just as potent as the season progresses. The Cougars set school records with 115 plays and 41 first downs in a 47-46 victory over Houston last weekend. BYU generated 683 yards of total offense. Taysom Hill threw for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 128 yards.
Hill is just one of seven quarterbacks in NCAA history to pass for at least 400 yards and rush for at least 100 yards in the same game.
''It will be different than it was last year,'' Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. ''I do think that. I know those guys are playing at a really high level on offense. Taysom Hill is a heck of a quarterback. He's in a great groove and he's hard to stop. This I know, we have to score a lot more points than we did last year to hang in there with those guys.''
Boise State edged BYU 7-6 last season after limiting the Cougars to 200 yards of total offense. The Broncos forced five turnovers, highlighted by a 36-yard interception return by Mike Atkinson for the game-winning touchdown.
The Cougars had a chance to win late after limiting Boise State to 261 yards on offense. They scored on a 4-yard run by Hill with 3:37 left, but failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
BYU does not anticipate seeing a similar defensive slugfest this time around given how much both offenses have progressed this season.
''It's going to be different,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. ''Boise is completely different offensively than they were a year ago and in an entirely different system. They're scoring a lot more points. They're more potent. We're better offensively as well. I wouldn't anticipate 7-6. I don't know what the score will be, but it probably won't be duplicating that one.''
BYU is still seeking its first win against Boise State. The Broncos have won all three previous meetings between the two teams dating back to 2003.
Five things to watch when Boise State faces BYU on Friday night:
FRESH STARTER: Grant Hedrick will make his first start at quarterback against BYU. Hedrick came off the bench after Joe Southwick fractured his ankle on the first play from scrimmage against Nevada. The junior performed well in relief, throwing for 150 yards on 18-of-21 passing and rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He was the first Broncos quarterback since 2004 to rush for more than 100 yards in a game.
RUNNING WILD: BYU ranks no. 14 nationally in rushing offense with 263.4 yards per game. Hill and Jamaal Williams are a big reason why. Hill has rushed for 772 yards and, against Houston, moved past Steve Young into third place for all-time BYU QB rushing yards. Williams has 626 yards rushing, despite missing one game and parts of two others with injuries, to rank second on the team.
THREE-AND-OUT: Stalled drives could be a bigger issue than both teams think. BYU has forced 5.86 three-and-out drives per game - ranking ninth nationally. Boise State is also in the top 30, forcing 4.29 three-and-outs per game.
OCTOBER PERFECTION: Boise State knows how to win in October. The Broncos have won 50 consecutive games during the month dating back to a 45-14 loss to Rice in 2001. Included in that streak is a 50-12 win over BYU in 2003.
FOURTH QUARTER FORCE: Alani Fua has had key fourth quarter interceptions in back-to-back games for BYU. Fua returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Tech two weeks ago. Last week, against Houston, he picked off John O' Korn with a minute left to help seal BYU's one-point victory. He is tied with Daniel Sorensen as the team leader with two interceptions.