HOUSTON — The BYU Cougars traveled to the Lone Star State to take on the Cougars of Houston is what would be their toughest game of the season so far. Houston's schedule had been postponed due to the insanity that is 2020 and they played their first game last week. Houston looked sharp as they beat Tulane 49-31. In addition to that, BYU was coming off a lackluster win against UTSA and Houston was hungry for an upset.
It ended up being a wildly entertaining game as BYU scored 29 unanswered points late in the second half to eventually claim a 43-26 win. For those who didn't see the game, it was much closer than the score would lead you to believe.
Here are three lessons from BYU's rollercoaster win over Houston:
Wilson to Milne is the new Hall to Collie
Coming into the season, all eyes were on Matt Bushman. The NFL-bound tight end was going to be the Cougars go-to receiver, but then a season-ending injury occurred in practice. Then the focus shifted to the very talented Gunner Romney. Romney has been a threat all season and had shown up big in BYU's first four wins. But week after a week, a former walk-on kept getting more and more attention, and that was Dax Milne.
We all knew Milne was good and he had some brilliant moments heading into Friday night, but now we know that Wilson to Milne may now be the new Hall to Collie.
Milne ended the night with nine receptions and 184 yards with three touchdowns. Wilson threw his roommate dimes and he had the sure hands all night long.
Romney suffered an injury that took him out of the game, but it wasn't the issue many fans had feared. Yes, BYU needs Romney back on the field, but a new star was born in Houston.
Milne ran crisp routes and gave his QB a big target. Sans one muffed punt that he recovered and was called for interference by the defense, Milne looked flawless. Eyes are squarely fixed on Milne and, according to his track record so far, it seems he can step up to that challenge.
This 2020 team is disciplined
Many BYU football teams have managed to shoot themselves in the foot. They start racking up penalties that put them further and further behind. They start trailing and then make silly mistakes as they try to catch up. And at times, teams have bought into their own hype and failed to get ready for games.
The latter nearly bit the Cougars last week, but they managed to pull out the win. Then on Friday, it seemed like the ghosts of some BYU teams of old were ready to haunt. Holding calls and pass interference put the Cougars in a couple of nefarious positions, but they stayed resilient, corrected mistakes, and righted the ship. The Cougars also found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they trailed by two scores. Houston seemed to be moving the ball at will, but the defense didn't break, started making stops, and the offense found the end zone.
It was really fun to watch as a team rallied to overcome challenges and a strong opposing offense to get back on top and eventually pull away. A comeback like Friday night is something that a BYU team hasn't been able to do in the Kalani Sitake era. It was the biggest comeback win during the coach's tenure and it shows maturity in the coaching staff as well as discipline from the team.
That kind of resiliency and focus could pay handsome dividends as the season wears on.
The 2020 season is far from over
While taking on the Houston Cougars on the road was BYU's biggest test so far this season, don't call it a done deal yet. There is a lot of football to be played and a couple of good teams in the way.
Ending the season with San Diego State proved to be trouble for the Cougars last year and SDSU won't be a pushover. On top of that, BYU still needs to play in Boise and try to do something they've never done on the Smurf Turf: beat Boise State.
Boise State will be hungry for a win after the Cougars ruined their undefeated season in 2019. Sprinkled between these games are dates with Texas State, Western Kentucky and Northern Alabama — any of which could prove a trap game for an undefeated team.
BYU has its doubters and they will even if they go undefeated because of their schedule, but this is a good team with strong players and a more seasoned coaching staff. But there is a lot of football left to play and going unbeaten on any schedule is an uphill battle.
Next up, BYU will take on the Texas State Bobcats in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 24.