2008 Season in Review: BYU

2008 Season in Review: BYU

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The Quest for PerfectionHead coach Bronco Mendenhall came up with the motto, "Quest for Perfection" before the 2008 season. It's a motto he probably regrets.

The Cougars began the season as the BCS busting favorite of most pundits. Although Mendenhall insisted that the "Quest" was more than a reference to football, it became an easy target for opponents.

Enormous pressure, nationally and from the Cougar fan base, led to a successful but underachieving season.

Northern Iowa 17 (16) BYU 41

Ranked 16th in the nation, BYU has little trouble with Northern Iowa. Max Hall throws for an incredible 486 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dennis Pitta has 11 catches for 213 yards, both career bests. The game, however, was closer than the score made it appear. Cougars fumbled the ball four times in the second half and the Panthers cut the lead to 10. Turnovers and trick plays by the Panthers gave the Cougars a few moments of worry.


(15) BYU 28 Washington 27An incredible ending was the story of this game and was the talk of the nation for most of the next week. With the #15 ranked Cougars leading 28-21, Washington's sophomore quarterback Jake Locker scored on a three yard plunge with just two seconds remaining on the clock. After the touchdown, Locker tossed the ball into the air in celebration and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Huskies were moved back 15 yards and Jan Jorgensen blocked the extra point for the win.

(23) UCLA 0 BYU 59

Despite the victory at Washington, the Cougars drop three spots in the rankings. The UCLA game was easily the most impressive win of the year and perhaps one of the best in BYU history. Max Hall tossed seven touchdowns and handed the Bruins their worst loss in 80 years. The seven touchdown passes tied Marc Wilson and Jim McMahon as the most in BYU history. Hall went to the bench in the middle of the third quarter. Hall was named the National Player of the Week. The defense was phenomenal with its first shutout of the season.

Wyoming 0 (14) BYU 44

The Cougars jump up four spots to #14. BYU's second straight shutout extended their nation's longest winning streak to 14 straight games. Cougars forced six turnovers and converted two immediately to touchdowns. A season low 364 total yards for the offense.

(8) BYU 34 Utah St. 14

Huge jump in the polls put the Cougars in the top 10. In the first quarter the Cougars turned three turnovers into 17 points and led 24-0 in the first quarter having outscored their opponents 137-0 in the last three games before giving up a pair of touchdowns in the 2nd half. Hall was also sacked for the first time this season.

New Mexico 3 (9) BYU 21

Another inexplicable drop in the polls for BYU. The lowest scoring game of the season still ended in victory and extended the winning streak to 16. Hall threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Harvey Unga carried the ball 22 times for 95 yards and Austin Collie had his fourth straight 100+ yards receiving game with 155.

(9) BYU 7 TCU 32

A devastating loss to the Horned Frogs at Fort Worth, Texas stopped the Cougar juggernaut. The Frogs sacked Hall six times and the Cougars BCS chances ended. TCU was unranked, but were 7-1 going into the game with BYU, having lost to #4 Oklahoma earlier in the year. The lone bright spot was Austin Collie's fifth consecutive 100 yard receiving game (116 yards).

UNLV 35 (21) BYU 42

An incredible drop in the polls and BYU needed Max Hall's fourth touchdown of the game with 1:46 remaining to pull this game out. The BYU defense continued to struggle giving up 321 yards to Rebels QB Omar Clayton, but did contain Frank "the Tank" Summers to 31 yards on 12 carries. Collie broke the MWC record with his sixth straight 100 yard game (113).

(20) BYU 45 Colorado St. 42

One of the most exciting games of the year. Another shootout led to five touchdowns in the 4th Quarter; three by BYU, two by the Rams. Dennis Pitta made the catch of the year. A 23 yard grab in the end zone where two defenders converged and sandwiched Pitta knocking his helmet off. Pitta held onto the ball for the touchdown. Pitta also scored the game winning touchdown. Down 38-42, Pitta took the 17 yard pass from Hall and rammed his way into the end zone with 22 seconds left to play to give the Cougars the 45-42 victory.

San Diego St. 12 (15) BYU 41

Cougars jump back into the top 15. San Diego St. was 1-9 coming into the game and didn't put up much of a fight. Austin Collie continued his incredible string of 100 yard games with nine catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

(17) BYU 38 Air Force 24

The yo-yo rankings continue for BYU after the Aztec rout. Playing at the Air Force Academy the Cougars fell behind 14-10 at halftime. Austin Collie lit up his teammates in the locker room and the Cougars came out and outscored the Falcons 21-3 in the third quarter. The Cougars just one win away from a share of the conference title after Utah defeated TCU.

(14) BYU 24 (7) Utah 48

The past two years featured classic wins for the Cougars. Every true Cougar fan knows Beck to Harline and 4th and 18, but five interceptions and a fumble by Max Hall led to a devastating blowout loss to arch-rival Utah. Losing out on a share of the MWC title and watching the team up north get invited to the Sugar Bowl, Collie finished with 10 catches for 104 yards. That was his 10th consecutive game with at least 100 yards receiving.

Las Vegas Bowl**(16) BYU 21 Arizona 31**

For the fourth consecutive year the Cougars played in the Las Vegas Bowl. Clearly disappointed with the way the season had gone, the Cougars appeared lethargic and uninterested in this game, while Arizona was trying to win their first bowl game in 10 years.

Four year starter Willie Tuitama threw for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns as BYU ends the season 10-3.

As a junior, Austin Collie finished the most spectacular season by a wide receiver in Utah history, tying the NCAA record with 11 consecutive 100-yard games and leading the nation in receiving.

Collie would forgo his final season with the Cougars to enter the NFL draft. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Indianapolis Colts.

The season didn't go as BYU coaches, players, fans or the national pundits believed, however it was the Cougars third straight season with at least 10 wins. No BYU team has ever has four consecutive season with 10+ wins, but with many of the Cougars skill position players returning, including the trio of Hall, Unga and Pitta, this could be a history making year in Provo.

E-mail: dnoriega@ksl.com

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Dave Noriega Sports Producer


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