Cougars "Double Down" in Vegas

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Up early here in Las Vegas to begin game prep for tonight's BYU Basketball game, but I had to fire off a few scattered thoughts after a great day for Cougar fans...


ESPN2's "First Take" program interviewed Max Hall this morning after his three touchdown effort in last night's 44-20 win over Oregon State, but within an hour, the talking heads were discussing the question: "should they have postponed/delayed the Las Vegas Bowl due to the high winds last night?"

I thought it was a joke, but they were serious! Correct me if I'm wrong, but only ONE team seemingly had trouble dealing with the elements, and that team was not BYU. The Cougars battled the extreme conditions and somehow found a way to score the most points allowed by the Beavers this season, and the most points ever allowed by OSU in a bowl game (and for good measure, the second-most points ever scored by BYU in a bowl game).

Was the wind a factor last night? Absolutely; but not THE factor, as the Cougars both overcame and utilized the elements on the way to a resounding win. As Marc Lyons reminded me today, BYU scored four of its six touchdowns into the wind.


43-9. That's BYU's record over the last four years, and one could argue it's the most successful four-year period in Cougar Football history.

Only two other four-year windows can compete with the current run of success: 1979 through 1982, and 1983 through 1986.

A comparison--

2006 through 2009

Record: 43-9 (83%)

Most losses in any one season: 3

Double-digit win seasons: 4

Conference Championships: 2

Bowl wins: 2

Wins over ranked teams: 4

Losses to: Arizona (-3), #23 Boston College (-3, OT), #14 UCLA (-10), Tulsa (-8), #24 TCU (-25), #7 Utah (-24), Arizona (-10), Florida State (-26), #8 TCU (-31)

Top 25 ranking (final--BCS): 2006 (20), 2007 (17), 2008 (16), 2009 (14 as of 12/23)


1983 through 1986

Record: 43-9 (83%)

Most losses in any one season: 5

Double-digit win seasons: 3

Conference Championships: 3

Bowl wins: 2

Wins over ranked teams: 3

Losses to: Baylor (-4), #20 UCLA (-3), UTEP (-7), #17 Ohio State (-3), #7 Washington (-31), Colorado State (-4), Oregon State (-3), San Diego State (-7), #15 UCLA (-21)

Top 25 ranking (final): 1983 (7), 1984 (1), 1985 (16)


1979 through 1982

Record: 42-8 (84%)

Most losses in any one season: 4

Double-digit win seasons: 3

Conference Championships: 4

Bowl wins: 2

Wins over ranked teams: 4

Losses to: Indiana (-1), New Mexico (-4), UNLV (-4), Wyoming (-13), #6 Georgia (-3), Air Force (-1), Utah State (-3), #16 Ohio State (-30)

Top 25 ranking (final): 1979 (13), 1980 (12), 1981 (13)


While it did not win the most conference titles, the current class of Cougars has established an edge in consistency, winning ten or more games in all four seasons.

The current class equals the other two in postseason success, and there were fewer "bad losses" suffered by the 2006 through 2009 group. Yes, there were some blowouts, but of the '06-'09 team's nine losses, five were to ranked teams, and of the other four, three were to BCS-conference teams--none were to unranked conference foes.

Looking at the two earlier groups, there were a number of losses to lesser lights both in and out of conference (Indiana, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming, Utah State, Baylor, UTEP, Oregon State, etc.). Basically, BYU's current class rarely lost games the Cougars were supposed to win, and there's something to be said for that.

The comparison game is always subjective, but by the above measures alone (ignoring statistical superlatives), the 2006 through 2009 BYU Cougars have given fans a practically unprecedented four-year run, and considering where BYU was in the years immediately leading up to 2006, the current accomplishments may stand alone.

Bronco Mendenhall has presided over a program resuscitation founded on principles that are being implemented at a higher level than at any other time in program history; I hope everyone appreciates the singular nature of this accomplishment.


Now to the hoopsters, who began the day the right way, with a 110-104 win over Nevada at the Orleans Arena.

The last time BYU won a game in which both the Cougars and their opponent scored 100+ points in a regulation final was on December 20th, 1978, as the Cougars beat Oral Roberts 120-104 in Provo behind 40 points from Danny Ainge.

Yesterday here in Las Vegas, Jimmer Fredette occupied the Ainge role, scoring a career high 33 points; 22 coming in a 64-point second half for the Cougars. The early minutes of the game were shaky for Jimmer, who was seemingly slow to wake up with the early noon start. Once he got going, though, he was fun to watch, going head-to-head with Nevada's Armon Johnson (30 points) as the two stars paced their teams in a frantic up-and-down affair.

BYU's starting guard line (Fredette, Jackson Emery and Tyler Haws) was simply phenomenal. Here's the combined line--

Points: 78

FG%: 74% (26/35)

3PFG%: 58% (7-12)

FT%: 100% (19/19)

Assist/turnover: 11/6

Steals: 6


I can't say enough about Emery's ability to impact a game in so many ways, but he is the most unsung go-to guy in the Mountain West Conference. Haws, meantime, doesn't do anything like a freshman; check out the numbers 12 games into his college career--

11.6 ppg, 55% fg (63% on 2pfg), 89% ft, 4.3 rpg, leads team in offensive rebounds (17 total), second on team in free throws attempted (36) and made (32). He has made his last 19 consecutive free throws.

Suffice it to say that I feel better and better every day about my pick of Haws as the MWC Freshman of the Year.


Tonight's finale of the HoopTV Las Vegas Classic pits 11-1 BYU and 9-2 Nebraska (7:30pm pregame, 8:30pm tipoff on KSL Newsradio/ My opposing coach pregame interview will be with former BYU and current Cornhuskers assistant Walter Roese.

BYU comes into the game averaging 82.9 ppg; Nebraska has scored more than 76 points in a game only twice in 11 outings.


BYU currently leads the MWC in:

Scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and assists per game.


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