So Long, Mountain West–My Current Thoughts on BYU Football

Riddell BYU Cougars Replica Mini HelmetOkay, the football season is officially over for us Y fans. Happily, we were able to end the season with a bang, although it helps when you play a punching bag instead of a real team. That’s right, UTEP. I called you a punching bag. Don’t take it personally–your QB was hobbled, and you had the misfortune of playing what turned out to be an underrated BYU team. It happens to the best of us.

When I take a step back and look at the season as a whole, I’m pretty pleased–something I didn’t think I’d be able to say after we lost 4 games in a row. Really there are only two games out of the 4 we lost that I’m particularly upset about losing. Let’s go over our games one by one.

  • Beat Washington 23-17–An okay win, although Washington has gone on to a 6-6 record. They beat two ranked teams and played six total. Despite the win, this game screwed us up for the next few games, giving Mendenhall confirmation that his 2 QB scheme was actually going to work.
  • Lost to Air Force 35-14–You know what? We lost to a team that ended up going 8-4, almost beating #7 Oklahoma and #8 Utah this season. This isn’t a loss to be sorry about.
  • Lost to Florida State 34-10–The team went 9-4 and is #23. Again, not a bad loss.
  • Lost to Nevada 27-13–Nevada is #15 and went 12-1, beating a little team called Boise State along the way. This is a loss that felt really bad at the time, but which time has gone on to show was actually not so bad after all. They’re a genuinely good team.
  • Lost to Utah State 31-16–This is the first loss that really still bugs me. It’s a 4-8 team that we should have been able to handle, even away. That said, it’s this loss that got Mendenhall to switch things up on the defensive end, which turned out to be very good for us. So a mixed bag, I guess.
  • Beat San Diego State 24-21–San Diego is 8-4. They beat #23 Air Force and almost beat #3 TCU and #23 Utah. This was a good win, and a dramatic turn around from the week before.
  • Lost to #4 TCU 31-3–Slaughtered. We were totally outmatched by this team. ‘Nuff said.
  • Beat Wyoming 25-20–They’re 3-9. We should have beat them by more, but I’ll take the win.
  • Beat UNLV 55-7–They’re 2-11. We better have beaten them.
  • Beat Colorado State 49-10–3-9. Again, we better have beaten them.
  • Beat New Mexico 40-7–1-11. Who says playing punching bags is bad?
  • Lost to #20 Utah 17-16–Yes, Utah is 10-2, and yes they’re now #19, and yes, it was an away game for us, but the loss still bugs me, because we should have won. You could blame the refs for messing up a call, you could blame Mendenhall for going for it on 4th down when he could have kicked a field goal and put us up two possessions. You could blame it on not being able to hold on to the ball. You can blame a lot of different things, but in the end, we lost a game we should have won. (And while I’m at it, a note to all BYU and Utah fans: there are times to rush the field, and times not to. When you barely manage to beat a 6-5 team at home, and you were the heavy favorite to start with, at least act like you’ve been there before. Yes, it’s a rivalry game, but BYU and Utah fans have always looked for excuses to rush the field, it seems to me. Now that we’re moving on to other things–Pac-12 and Independence–let’s try to act the part a bit better.)
  • Beat UTEP 52-24–They’re 6-7 now, and they backed into the bowl. It wasn’t by any means a gimme game, and it was great to see us do so well, but still . . . I would have been really upset if we’d lost. (As opposed to what would have happened if we’d beaten Utah and faced, say Boise State, in our bowl game. Then we would have been the punching bag.)
So only two losses that I really think we shouldn’t have on our record. Seeing as how we went through so much growth this season, with so many new faces, I’m very optimistic for the future. (Assuming all our good players don’t go out in the off season and decide to impregnate people, that is. Seriously–you want to sabotage a BYU football team, just seduce the star players. Sheesh.)
Next year, we’ll be independent. (I could make some joke about the chosen land and Independence, but even I have my limits.) We’ll open our season at current #21 Ole Miss, play Texas, current #19 Utah, current #25 UCF, Oregon State and current #24 Hawaii. It’s not a bad schedule, especially for having been hammered out at the last minute. Yes, there are still some punching bags, but there have always been punching bags on our schedule. Games won’t be on the awful Mtn Network anymore–ESPN channels and BYUTV, which you can stream for free online. That’s a huge plus, in my book. We have a bowl game lined up (no, it’s not a New Year’s Day game, but these days, it’s either a big Bowl Game, or it’s not. There’s no real middle ground, in my opinion.)
So I see plenty to be excited for. I’m sad that the rivalry between Utah is going to have less importance, and I’m sad to be saying farewell to the conference that might have been (TCU, Utah, BYU, Boise State), but such is life. Our team had its ups and downs this season, but they brought things together at the end. The fact that I can be irritated at the Utah loss is a testimony to that.
Anyway–good luck against Boise State tonight, Utah. I’ll be watching. See ya later Mountain West. And hello, independence!

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