Utah - BYU
Uh, BYU, any time you want to start showing a wee bit of offense, it would be much appreciated.
For Utah, this was just another game before dealing with the meat of the Pac-12 season, but it was a very big one that could change the team's attitude going forward. As an independent, this was BYU's season, and it failed.
After a lousy 2010, with the offense only showing up against the weak and the sad, head coach Bronco Mendenhall promised that this year things would be different. The line was in place, the skill players were experienced, and 2010 super-recruit Jake Heaps was about to take the next step as a quarterback into superstardom.
Instead, the Cougars have no running game, one of the most inefficient passing games in college football, and they can't score.
Of course, when you turn the ball over seven times, get destroyed on special teams, and commit nine penalties for 104 yards, there are other areas of concern, but the offense managed just 11 yards on the ground as part of an utter embarrassment at home that has to be seen as a low point.
Utah is just okay. It's not as strong as it was in the BCS years, and its missing the depth and overall talent of recent seasons, but it's good enough to hang around with anyone in the Pac-12 and it has a puncher's chance at winning the conference title. But is it 54-10 over an archrival good? Apparently so.
Utah came up with a tremendous game, and while it didn't have to do much but sit back and groove on all the BYU mistakes, it took advantage of every opportunity and kept playing even when BYU didn't.
If anyone around the Beehive State is still complaining about this rivalry being played in September for the first time in more than a half-century, he probably isn't wearing red. The beating Utah handed BYU was epic, especially in a series that's been traditionally very close and competitive. Where was this team the last two weeks against Montana State and USC, which produced just a total of 41 points? Obviously it was storing up all of its energy for Week 3 in Provo. QB Jordan Wynn had his most effective game of the month, but it was RB John White who provided the biggest spark on offense. Playing in just his third game at this level, the junior-college transfer pierced the Cougars defense repeatedly and scored three times, using quick feet and a sudden change of direction to snap off long runs.
BYU, on the other hand, is an unexpected mess. The team that entered the season with such high hopes—and a slew of returning starters—can't score and is now struggling on defense as well. This has to be baffling for head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who felt in August as if he had a team that capable of winning ten games and qualifying for a respectable postseason bowl berth
By Matt Zemek
Remember the second half of the 2010 college football season – you know, the time when Jake Heaps looked like a confident quarterback and BYU's offense learned how to function?
No? You don't remember that period of time? Me neither.
One could say that Utah has righted its ship and is ready to win the Pac-12 South (only because of USC's lack of eligibility, of course…), but when one realizes how many free points Brigham Young gifted to its in-state rival, it's hard to affirm the re-emergence of the Utes. The main theme of this shocking night in Provo is that BYU, in its new realm as an Independent program, has regressed to a substantial degree. Any of the gains the Cougars made in November of last season have been wiped off the board in three legitimately lousy offensive performances. BYU is nothing less than a train wreck, nothing other than a massive disappointment.
Many sports fans will often say that they'd rather lose by 40 points than by one – the pain is not as great, so the argument goes – but one begs to differ with that line of reasoning. Being competitive in defeat carries with it a certain honor, not to mention the calming if small-scale satisfaction that victory was almost attained. Losing by a 54-10 score, however, makes it plain that BYU is nowhere near ready to swim in the choppy waters of conference-free competition. If BYU is able to post a 7-6 season, thereby replicating the 2010 team's final record, the Cougars will have done well. That's not what the 2011 season was supposed to bring to a fan base that had hoped to relish a new life beyond the Mountain West Conference.
BYU wanted to become more visible, to play on ESPN2 instead of The MTN network. Saturday, the Cougars got their wish. As the old saying goes, "Watch what you wish for – you just might get it." BYU got it good in The Holy War, and now the Cougars' season is so much smoldering rubble.