Large signs hang outside Lavell Edwards Stadium where it was announced that BYU football will become independent in 2011 separating from the Mountain West Conference September 1 2010 in Provo Utah. The remaining BYU sports will become affiliated with the West Coast Conference in 2011. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
The BYU Cougars welcome Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars to Provo on Thursday.
The BYU Cougars begin Year 2 as an independent, going 10-3 with a victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in the Armed Forces Bowl during the 2011 season. They host the Washington St. Cougars, a team coming off a 4-8 season but under the leadership of Mike Leach.
Leach re-enters the coaching scene after being forced out of Texas Tech a few seasons ago over an incident involving Craig James' son. Washington State appears ready to swing its sword with either Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday under center as quarterback.
BYU, meanwhile, has Riley Nelson ready to go for a full season. In 2011, Nelson split time with Jake Heaps, but he has since transferred to the Kansas Jayhawks. Nelson completed 57.4 percent of his passes and threw for 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns. With receiver Cody Hoffman (61 receptions, 943 yards, 10 touchdowns) back, Nelson should be even more productive with a full season at the helm.
Game time/date: 8:15 p.m. MT, Thursday, Aug. 30
Location: LaVell Edward Stadium, Provo, Utah
TV Schedule: ESPN/WatchESPN
Odds: BYU opened at -13.5.
Matchup History: BYU leads series, 2-1.