Worst-case scenario for BYU football

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PROVO — A few days ago, I wrote a piece outlining a magical, best-case scenario for BYU football’s 2016 season.

Admittedly, it was a feel-good article that saw the Cougs going back to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl 20 years after their unbelievable 1996 season-ender. For balance, here's a much less hopeful, worst-case scenario for the upcoming year.

vs. Arizona

The excitement that comes with having new coaches with fresh ideas quickly turns into a nightmare for Cougar fans as the coaching staff, most of whom have little to no experience at their current position, is out of sync all game and makes some very questionable decisions on both sides of the ball. Taysom Hill breaks his ankle on the third play of the game but stays in until the fourth quarter to keep the Y close.

Finally, the pain is too much to bear and Tanner Mangum comes in. The young gunslinger can’t reproduce last year’s “Miracle at Memorial,” however, and the Cougs drop their opener in the Kalani Sitake era.

Final score: Arizona 28, BYU 21 | Record: 0-1

at Utah

BYU coaches stress all week in practice the importance of ball security. Y players are forced to run through all sorts of drills to ensure that they cover up the ball upon contact. But the coaching staff can’t predict that a freak monsoon-like storm will hit Salt Lake City on game day. The ball becomes a greased pig during the contest but for some odd reason all Ute fumbles miraculously roll harmlessly out of bounds while the Cougs cough up six turnovers and lose big.

Adding insult to injury, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announces the conference is adding four teams that don’t have as many combined bowl appearances as BYU, leaving the Cougars out for "geographical reasons."

Final score: Utah 42, BYU 21 | Record: 0-2

Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

vs. UCLA

Desperate to get back on the right track, the Cougars welcome the Bruins to LaVell Edwards Stadium. UCLA at this point is a top-10 team and Josh Rosen is a bonafide Heisman candidate. BYU comes out swinging and gives the team from L.A. a much tougher contest than any commentator predicted. Run down from two emotionally draining games in the opening weeks, the Cougs run out of gas in the fourth quarter and lose a heartbreaker.

Final score: UCLA 24, BYU 17 | Record: 0-3

vs. West Virginia

Playing another “neutral” game that is somehow in the opposing team’s backyard, BYU faces another tough matchup in the Mountaineers. Banged up and battered physically and psychologically from a brutal three-game stretch, BYU looks like a JV squad against its bigger, deeper Big 12 opponent.

Final score: West Virginia 28, BYU 10 | Record: 0-4

vs. Toledo

Before the game, Kalani Sitake and his team do some soul searching and decide that they will not give up on the season. The Cougars come out and play angry and aggressive like a hurt predator against the helpless Rockets. Some of the most violent hits ever witnessed in LES occur and hope is once again restored as BYU takes out all of its frustration on an overmatched squad.

Final score: BYU 56, Toledo 14 | Record: 1-4

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at Michigan State

Playing with a new edge, the Cougars head to East Lansing against a dominant Spartan team. MSU is clearly the superior team in terms of speed, size and overall talent. Plus, they haven’t lost a home game since 2012. In the end, those facts bear out and the team in green and silver pulls out a win. But the bruises all over their bodies will forever remind them that they played the Cougars.

Final score: Michigan State 28, BYU 21 | Record: 1-5

vs. Mississippi State

Realizing the team’s bowl chances are getting slimmer, Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer decide to implement a radical strategy for the game against the Bulldogs and go all in on the passing game. Mangum throws the ball a Jim McMahon-esque 70 times and racks up 600 passing yards and five touchdowns through the air. The defense bends but doesn’t break and the team gets its best win of the season.

Final score: BYU 35, Mississippi State 28 | Record: 2-5

at Boise State

The Broncos are undefeated heading into their contest against the Y. The smurf turf is fitting as it looks as though the Cougs are drowning for much of the contest. Neither team looks particularly strong in an ugly defensive struggle that harks back to another painful game in Cougar history in Boise in 2012. BSU pulls out a win with a last-minute field goal.

Final score: Boise State 10, BYU 7 | Record: 2-6

Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

at Cincinnati

It’s been said that a bit of rest can do wonders for the body and the mind. Coming off a bye week, BYU comes into a contest healthy for the first time since the season opener. The Bearcats stand no chance as Mangum again shines. Cincy fans gloat over the fact that they are going to be in the Big 12 next year.

BYU wins the battle, but the Bearcats win the war.

Final score: BYU 42, Cincinnati 17 | Record: 3-6

vs. Southern Utah

Ed Lamb and Jernaro Gilford give in-depth scouting reports to BYU coaches and players about the FCS Thunderbirds. While this would be wholly unnecessary most seasons, the Cougars want to leave nothing to chance. The Y comes out incredibly prepared to face an in-state foe to reach the typical results that fans have come to expect in Provo over the years.

Final score: BYU 56, Southern Utah 14 | Record: 4-6

vs. Massachusetts

The Minutemen come into the game as one of the worst teams in FBS college football. The Cougars have had a rough season but have turned a corner by this time and easily dismiss UMass.

Final score: BYU 49, UMass 7 | Record: 5-6

vs. Utah State

After essentially two-straight bye weeks, the Cougs welcome one last test to LES. Sitake calls in legendary head coach LaVell Edwards to give some inspiring words prior to the game. Edwards simply reminds the players that even in down years, BYU doesn’t lose to his alma mater in football. With that vote of confidence and playing to become bowl eligible, no small feat after the way the season started, the Cougars play inspired football and retain the “Old Wagon Wheel.”

Final score: BYU 35, Utah State 21 | Record: 6-6

Bowl game

Poinsettia Bowl vs. San Diego State

The Aztecs have a strong year in which they almost go undefeated but can’t beat Boise State in the Mountain West title game and have to settle for the Poinsettia Bowl. Feeling like they have the game in the bag against a Cougar team that has struggled, SDSU coaches talk about how he can’t wait to “beat those old men.” The game is tight through out until late in the game when a BYU player clearly fumbles as he reaches for the end zone but the refs determine he broke the plane of the goal line before he fumbled. Video replay is poor quality and the officials decide to uphold the ruling.

The Cougars hold on for the win after the controversial call. SDSU bans all Mormons from future enrollment into their school.

Final score: BYU 27, San Diego State 24 | Final record: 7-6

The season is front-loaded with a bunch of tough games in the first eight weeks. If the Cougs can manage that, even doing as poorly as 2-6 through them, the last four are very winnable.

![Dylan Cannon](http://img.ksl.com/slc/2539/253958/25395882\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Dylan Cannon ------------------------------

Dylan Cannon is a regular KSL.com contributor and can be reached at DylanCannon86@gmail.com or via twitter @DylanCannon11.

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