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Although their release was not as anticipated as Cougars fans hoped they would be today, here are the latest BCS Standings.


With their win over BYU and Texas Tech's loss to Oklahoma, the Utes move up a spot as the Red Raiders drop below Utah. Most projections seem to have the Utes in the Sugar Bowl versus Alabama.


As for BYU, the Cougars will sit and wait for their postseason destination. BYU has a proven track record with the Las Vegas Bowl, but it will be interesting to see if Vegas rolls the dice on BYU again. I don't have a good feel for this one, although's latest projections have BYU playing in either the Poinsettia Bowl or the Armed Forces Bowl. I would surmise that it's either Las Vegas or San Diego for BYU--but certainly not Fort Worth.


As for yesterday's game, any analysis starts and ends with six BYU turnovers, to zero for Utah. The Utes turned the ball over only three times in their final 6 games combined, and BYU coughed it up 6 times in in fewer than 30 minutes of game clock time, in its biggest game of the year. BYU turned the ball over on its LAST FIVE possessions, and on six of its last eight possessions overall (not counting a knee before halftime).

Another turnover note: Kyle Whittingham's team has had zero turnovers in three of its four games with BYU. Only eight times have BYU opponents gone turnover-free versus Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars--as noted, the Utes account for three of those eight "clean" games.


It appears that taking the ball out of Max Hall's hands and turning it over to BYU's productive backs (including Austin Collie, although sparingly) might have mitigated Saturday's damage, and may have given BYU its best chance to win. On our postgame coverage, I brought up the 1996 BYU-Utah game, in which a BYU team featuring one of the best pass attacks in the country (with QB Steve Sarkisian) ran the ball 63 times for 366 yards (5.8 yards per carry), while completing only 7 of 12 passes. The Utes couldn't stop the run, so BYU never stopped running.

Last night, BYU averaged 7.1 yards per carry, as Harvey Unga and Fui Vakapuna looked perhaps the best they had all year, at the same time. Unga appeared jumpier and faster than he has recently, while Vakapuna was punishing defenders. Unfortunately, they combined for only 19 carries, while racking up 152 yards (8 yards per carry).


It's tough to explain how Max Hall had the game he did at the time he did, but early on, it appeared evident that the BYU passing game was a bit "off." Credit Utah's excellent pass defense and game plan, which never let Hall relax and forced him to throw the ball into tight quarters all night long. The Utes' reliance on taking away BYU's "throw game" left holes for the rushing attack that BYU exploited when offered. Had BYU run more, there's every reason to assume Gary Andersen and the Utes would have countered, but "playing pass" was a winning formula for Utah on this night.


Utah QB Brian Johnson was excellent (30/36, 304, 4td, 0 int), and picked apart the BYU defense at will. By spreading BYU out and going with an empty backfield for most of the game, Johnson and the Utes followed the formula for success many other teams previously had against BYU's soft secondary. Completions were primarily uncontested on short and easy balls, with BYU unable to make plays on some of Johnson's longer throws (the TD pass to David Reed, for example). Bronco Mendenhall and Jaime Hill will have some work to do to get next year's team ready to defend the pass at a higher level.


While BYU is to be contented with a third straight 10-win regular season, the Cougars came up short in their two biggest games of the year, and in the only two games against teams that ended up ranked at the end of the season. Bronco is now 1-8 v. ranked teams, and BYU has now lost 20 of its last 21 games to teams that were ranked at either the time of the meeting or at the end of the season in which they met.

After nights like last night, the popular "big picture" question becomes whether BYU can consistently compete with and beat the best teams in the country. It's true that BYU did so in the pre-BCS days of the 80s and early-to-mid 90s, but since 1999, BYU has exactly one such win to show for itself (at TCU in 2006).

Utah meantime, has won 6 of its last 8 versus ranked teams, and is now 6-0 alltime when both the Utes and their opponents are ranked.

BYU's recruiting philosophy and other restrictions will always narrow the talent pool of available athletes, but the Cougars have succeeded in winning 31 of their last 35 games while adhering to the principles that are clearly driving the team and the athletic department forward.

Could today's BYU Football program assemble a team composed of the same athletes that ended the season ranked 5th nationally in 1996? Would Tim McTyer, and Omarr Morgan, and Ronney Jenkins and Brian McKenzie and even Steve Sarkisian be on BYU's recruiting radar using today's standards? It's an interesting question. It's clear that without those particular players, BYU would not have been 14-1 in '96.

To be clear: better players in important positions on the field might have helped BYU beat UCLA and Tulsa in the regular season last year, and might have helped BYU beat TCU and Utah this year, but don't forget, in each of those four key losses, the common thread was NOT a talent disparity, but a loss of COMPOSURE AND/OR FOCUS: In those four losses (any one of which, had it been a win, might have put BYU in the BCS), BYU turned the ball over 17 TIMES, to THREE for the opposition. And that is why BYU is on the outside looking in on the BCS again. Last night at Utah, as in the earlier instaces, BYU was not at its best when its best was required. BYU has survived subpar outings against inferior teams, but against teams like TCU and Utah this year, BYU failed to display what Bronco hopes to be one of the hallmarks of this teams: "competitive greatness."


Former BYU WR Ben Cahoon (one of those 1996 players, it should be noted) and his Montreal Alouettes fell short in their quest for another Grey Cup win this evening in Montreal. The Calgary Stampeders beat the Als 22-14, while Cahoon (a CFL All-Star this season) led Montreal in catches with 8 receptions (95 yards). Former Utah State Aggie Anthony Calvillo (this season's CFL Most Outstanding Player) was 29/38 passing for Montreal, for 352 yards (0 td, 2 int).


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