Instant Analysis - Las Vegas
BYU 44 ... Oregon State 20
This was the best that BYU played all season long, and it was the worst that Oregon State played this year. Mix the two and you get this disaster.
I'm not taking anything away from BYU and it fantastic performance (really, Cougar fans who continue to yell at me for some sort of bias, I'm not), but this game has to be shown to every team who has to play a bowl game that's out of the major spotlight to show the difference between a team that wants to play and a team that doesn't.
BYU is good, but it's not 44-20 good. It took two to make this a brutal bowl game, and while the Cougars showed up and had a great gameplan, appeared to have far more energy and bounce on defense, and were far more physical on the O line, Oregon State appeared to have lost interest in playing in this game from the moment the Rose Bowl dreams were dashed in a loss at Oregon three weeks ago. BYU was more focused, evidenced by the excellent job done on third downs, more into the game, and more prepared to make a big statement for the Mountain West.
Now let's not go overboard.
Remember, this is the same BYU team that struggled to get past New Mexico and San Diego State, got destroyed at home by Florida State, and wasn't nearly the defensive rock it was in Vegas. Meanwhile, Oregon State was much, much better than this throughout the season and simply came up with a stinker at the wrong time. But again, give credit to the Cougars for not just winning, but making this a laugher.
Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU has gong 42-9 over the last four seasons with four straight double-digit win seasons. There might not have been a Mountain West title attached to this season, but 11 wins, victories over Oklahoma and Utah, and now a bowl win over Oregon State makes this a successful season by any measure. More importantly, this was the sort of game that poll voters remember. This game earned BYU a few benefits of the doubt in the 2010 preseason poll. But for right now, a dominant Las Vegas Bow win is enough, and it's a great tribute to Mendenhall, the coaching staff, and the Cougars for preparing to play at a high level
and giving the right effort.
Just who was that impersonating the Oregon State offense in Las Vegas Monday night?
That couldn't have been the same unit that averaged 32 points a game during the regular season and played with ideal balance throughout the year. Yeah, the players didn't execute, but this feeble effort has to fall at the feet of the coaching staff, namely offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, who didn't have his players prepared and was simply out coached. That's two years in-a-row that his offense has gone AWOL with weeks to prepare for an opponent. Now, feel free to give him a pass in last December's 3-0 Sun Bowl snoozer over Pitt since the Rodgers brothers were out with injuries. However, what in the world is Langsdorf's excuse this year? The wind gusts at Sam Boyd Stadium? They didn't seem to bother BYU QB Max Hall, who threw three touchdown passes without a pick and guided his offense to 37 points. Beaver QB Sean Canfield, on the other hand, was lost all night, completing less half of his passes and looking nothing like an All-Pac-10 first teamer.
Don't be fooled by the final box score, which showed Oregon State with 20 points and more than 200 yards through the air. The Beavers had just seven points early in the fourth quarter and went more than 40 minutes without scoring. For the second consecutive year, the OSU offense was not properly prepared for a postseason game, offsetting an otherwise successful regular season.
1) Make all the jokes you want about BYU being in Las Vegas, but be sure to realize this: BYU was playing in its fifth……. straight……….. Las……….. Vegas………….. Bowl. The Cougars haven't played in a BCS game over the past five seasons. They haven't played in the Holiday Bowl, where they used to thrill the nation (seemingly) every year. They haven't played in a really good bowl such as the Cotton Bowl (BYU appeared in the event in the 1990s). Nope. This BYU program has made a habit out of playing a pre-Christmas bowl game in humble Sam Boyd Stadium. While the Big Ten and SEC arrange vastly superior bowl contracts, the second-place team in the Mountain West has been left with meager crumbs. The fact that BYU was enthusiastic about this game and utterly prepared to perform is a tribute – and a massive one at that – to every coach and player who donned the Cougars' immensely attractive old-school uniforms, which should become a permanent fixture in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains.
2) One might be inclined to rip Oregon State for not showing up in Vegas, but let's establish this point: If you hadn't seen Oregon State all year, and if you're skeptical of Pac-10 football, well, you just need to watch more teams from more conferences. The 2009 Beavers, under the exceptional guidance of head coach Mike Riley, overachieved in every game except their home loss to Arizona. This program does more with less than any other program on the West Coast, and it's one of the 10 most overachieving programs in the country. If OSU pulls another clunker next season, summon your inner Scrooge; tonight, however, this rare bowl-game face-plant should not bring forth a chorus of bah-humbugs for the Beavers.
Oregon State went to Las Vegas and suffered a hangover. The Beavers looked lethargic and uninterested while getting thumped by BYU, and in retrospect it wasn't much of a surprise, not after coming so close to a Rose Bowl berth.
Much like Cal's infamous face plant in the 2004 Holiday Bowl, things started well, but at the first sign of adversity – a backwards swing pass mishandled by running back Jacquizz Rodgers and taken in for a Cougars touchdown – the Beavers fell apart.
Blame the wind, which sent hats, punts, passes and even the net behind the goalpost flailing wildly into the desert night. Blame the Strip. Blame the Civil War.
Whatever the cause, the momentum established by the Pac-10 over the last year - by a perfect bowl record, a thrilling conference race without USC's presence looming and the unveiling of new stars like Toby Gerhart and Jeremiah Masoli - was unraveled by Oregon State's bad night in Sin City.
So, is this what the Pac-10 is bringing to the table this bowl season? If so, uh oh.
The Pac-10 posted a 5-0 record in bowl games last season, a record that was obviously over-hyped and over-valued. After all, the league's bowl tie-ins aren't exactly providing the toughest competition for the conference. The egg laid by the Oregon State Beavers in Tuesday night's loss to BYU is a clear sign that the Pac-10 might not be as strong as some think.
This wasn't a middle-of-the-road Pac-10 team that got spanked by BYU; this was Oregon State. This was the same team that was within 17 minutes of going to the Rose Bowl as conference champions and has nearly a quarter of the All-Pac-10 first team on the roster. The Beavers certainly didn't look like it against BYU.
The Mountain West went 6-1 last year in the regular season against the Pac-10. Couple that fact with the woodshed beating BYU just put on Oregon State, it's time to start making even more of a push to give the league an automatic bid to the BCS, because it certainly deserves it.