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The BYU Cougars ended the regular season in style, beating New Mexico State 50-14 in Las Cruces. While the final score was impressive, the story of the day was the play of James Lark and Cody Hoffman.
Lark was absolutely brilliant in his first ever start at BYU. Lark threw for 384 yards and six touchdowns. The 384 yards passing was the most ever by a BYU quarterback getting his first start. Lark is also the 10th BYU QB to throw six touchdowns.
I knew going into Saturday's game that Lark would do well, because of the opponent; but I had no idea he would put up the numbers he did. I was prepared for the tweets and texts that would and did come in wondering why he hadn't played earlier in the season. After today, I'm asking the same thing; why didn't he play earlier?
You can't help but wonder what might have been. I don't care if they did play New Mexico State; if you put up numbers like Lark did, you played great. We had been led to believe that Riley was so much better than James and that was ultimately the reason Nelson continued to play ahead of Lark despite poor play and injuries. From what I saw on Saturday, that gap wasn't very wide at all. In the grand scheme of things, playing the "what if" game only leads to more frustration.
The other bright spot for BYU was the play of Cody Hoffman. Hoffman set a BYU record with 5 touchdown receptions. Cody also surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the season.
This young man continues to defy the odds. Hoffman was not highly recruited and had to earn his minutes on the field. Since becoming a starter, Hoffman has been the go-to guy at receiver. Austin Collie is still the best receiver BYU has ever had, but Cody is giving Austin a run for his money. If Hoffman returns next season, as we all expect, there is no telling what he can accomplish.
The only game left for BYU this season is next month's Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. At 7-5, the Cougars can finish with a respectable eight-win season. With expectations so high to start the year, eight wins will most likely be looked at as a disappointment.
The 2012 BYU Football season has been filled with close games, gut-punching losses, and controversial decisions. Saturday's win at New Mexico State only seemed to fuel the fire for fans that wanted more out of this team.