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The BYU Cougars lost to Oregon State Saturday afternoon, 42-24 at Lavell Edwards Stadium. The fact that BYU lost the game was the biggest surprise. To me, the biggest surprise was why the Cougars lost. BYU's defense had been so dominant coming into the OSU game, but their inability to defend the Beavers' passing game proved to be the deciding factor.
Oregon State threw for 332 yards, a number that most would have thought was impossible based on BYU's previous games. What makes the passing numbers hurt even more is that it was accomplished with a player making his first-ever collegiate start. Cody Vaz was impressive in his debut. It also helps if you have wide receivers like Wheaton and Cooks that literally catch everything thrown their way.
After Oregon State scored on its first possession, it seemed as if the Cougar defense settled down and started to do their thing. The problem for the defense all afternoon was their inability to put consistent pressure on Vaz. When he had time to survey the field, he made plays. When BYU was able to rattle him with pressure, he wasn't the same guy. Unfortunately, the Cougars weren't able to put enough pressure to get the job done. I'm sure there will be a complete overreaction to the play of the defense. Yes, they struggled today, but one game does not define this group.
Offensively, 24 points should have been enough to win the game. Riley Nelson made his return to the team as the starting quarterback and finished the day with 305 yards passing with a touchdown; unfortunately, he also threw three interceptions. In terms of winning the game, the only interception that hurt was the one in the first half. The two INTs late really didn't have much impact in terms of who was going to win.
Overall, BYU cannot continue to turn the ball over from the quarterback spot. There have been too many opportunities squandered this season because of questionable decisions from the quarterbacks. When BYU plays clean football, they win. When the Cougars turn the ball over, they lose.
It doesn't get any easier for BYU, as the Cougars face Notre Dame next week in South Bend. Notre Dame is a great team this season with national championship aspirations. Playing in South Bend will not be easy, but I fully expect the Cougars to give the Irish their best shot.