BYU 24, Tulsa 21
- I scoffed at the idea that a BYU-Tulsa game could follow what Baylor and Washington came up with in the wild and wacky Alamo. Thanks to Riley Nelson and Cody Hoffman, they did it.
- Tulsa only came up with 2.5 sacks, but Nelson got beaten up, battered, and bruised. Tulsa's pass rush has been solid all year, but it took things to another level against the Cougars with hit after hit on Nelson.
- But the pass rush didn't work on the fake spike.
- Tulsa had the game there for the taking, and didn't do it. BYU screwed up with the running into the punter call late, and all G.J. Kinne and the offense had to do was pull off a few first downs and it was over.
- The BYU defensive front destroyed the Tulsa ground game. Kyle Van Noy and company whipped the Golden Hurricane front and never got hit with the explosion. This is a Tulsa team that ripped apart everyone with its ground game, but was held for just 38 yards on ten carries.
- The Tulsa defense did almost everything right until the end, Curnelius Arnick was a menace, Shawn Jackson made big plays all over the field, and Dexter McCoil was one of Nelson's favorite receivers.
- The BYU offense needed to use Nelson's mobility more. He wasn't able to go anywhere against the Tulsa linebackers.
- Considering how bad BYU looked against Utah, and considering how miserable the offense was early on, finishing up with ten wins and winning nine of the last ten is a nice way to come up with a strong season. This isn't a very good team, and this might be only the second win over a bowl team – Utah State being the other – but 10-3 is 10-3.
- Check that. The offense isn't very good. The defense is terrific.
- Tulsa lost to Oklahoma State, Boise State, and Houston, all with one loss each, before this.
Riley Nelson showed again why he's so valuable to the BYU program, but he's the reason former blue-chip recruit Jake Heaps is now a Kansas Jayhawk? Heaps has so much more upside as a passer than the lefty, who too often stares down his receivers, sails his throws and uncorks wobbly balls.
Nelson was darn fortunate to have Cody Hoffman on his side for the Armed Forces Bowl. Considering the size and skill of the Crescent City, Calif., it's pretty amazing he's not playing in the Pac-12 right now.
While Tulsa was unable to keep BYU out of the end zone on the pivotal final drive, the unit put on a very respectable showing in Dallas this afternoon. The Golden Hurricane always features a lot of speed on this side of the ball, and DE Tyrunn Walker, S Dexter McCoil and linebackers Shawn Jackson and Curnelius Arnick are wrap-up tacklers in the open field.
BYU LB Kyle Van Noy, now at the halfway point of his eligibility, is about to blow up into a major national star in Provo. For a 6-3, 235-pounder, the sophomore plays with all of the range, explosiveness and versatility of a 205-pound safety. He has high NFL Draft choice written all over his game film.
Where was the Tulsa rushing attack for this game? The unit that averaged 40 carries a game, and was so instrumental to the program's success during the regular season, inexplicably failed to even try to put a dent in the BYU front seven.
By Matt Zemek
Larry Fedora used his season at Southern Mississippi to vault to North Carolina. Kevin Sumlin used his season at Houston to make the move to Texas A&M. However, the best coach you never heard about in the 2011 Conference USA season was first-year Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship. The in-house hire did not carry a huge price tag, making Tulsa brass look smart. Tulsa lost four games, but the Golden Hurricane played Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State out of conference. Tulsa achieved more than a lot of pundits expected, and Blankenship deserved a lot of credit for his team's performance. A physical style gave the Golden Hurricane a flinty edge which served them well this past autumn.
On Friday afternoon in the Armed Forces Bowl, Blankenship lost the mustard on his fastball.
Why was anyone even back to field a punt inside the Tulsa 20-yard line with 25 seconds left in the first half against BYU? It's not quite (100 percent) correct to say that the punt should have been fair caught, though that's certainly a reasonable and logical claim to make. The punt never should have been fielded in the first place… not with that time-score-field position dynamic. Blankenship owns that touchdown, which breathed life into Brigham Young's hopes.
Later, Blankenship watched as his team allowed BYU to matriculate the ball down the field, as Hank Stram would say, scoring the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left. Blankenship can't be blamed for the fact that his defense allowed the touchdown itself, but Tulsa needed to take chances on that drive. Either Tulsa was going to make the defensive stop, or give up a big-play touchdown with almost a minute left. Tulsa could have afforded to give up a home-run ball to BYU in that situation; a Cougar touchdown would have left the Golden Hurricane with two timeouts in a 24-21 game; Tulsa could have maneuvered for overtime. However, by allowing BYU to work slowly and calmly before punching in a touchdown with just 11 ticks left on the clock, Tulsa denied itself a chance to mount a comeback by letting two timeouts sit idly in its pocket. Bill Blankenship had a great year. He suffered through a very poor performance in the Armed Forces Bowl.
By Terry Johnson
By Terry Johnson
Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball
- Amazingly, the Armed Services Bowl managed to top the Alamo Bowl in terms of excitement. Sure, the Alamo had more points, but this game was literally in doubt until the final whistle blew.
- Attention college coaches – please start coaching your players to take the proper angle when attempting to block a punt. BYU nearly lost this game because of a running into the kicker penalty on fourth down.
- Excellent call by the BYU coaching staff to go with the fake spike on 2nd and goal. Tulsa's defense was both confused and tired, which made it easy for Cody Hoffman to get wide open for the winning score.
- With Bronco Mendenhall's penchant for winning close games, and it is very surprising that his name did not surface as a candidate for some of the higher profile jobs that came available this season.
- Riley Nelson continues to epitomize everything that a QB should be. Even though he had subpar numbers for the day (17 of 40 passing), he came up big at crunch time. Ask Dan Marino, at the end of the day, QBs are measured by only one statistic – wins and losses.
- BYU OT Matt Reynolds showed the entire nation that he has the toughness to play in the NFL. After having his helmet taken off by a Tulsa defender, Reynolds stayed with the play, and threw a key block (sans his helmet) to allow Riley Nelson to complete a pass.
- Might this matchup turn into a conference game in the future? If the Big 12 decides to expand further, they would be hard pressed to find two better candidates.