2011 Armed Forces Bowl: BYU Football Caps Season in Thrilling Fashion

Lou Martin@@SenorWriteContributor IIIDecember 30, 2011

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 30:  Riley Nelson #13 of the Brigham Young Cougars throws against the Brigham Young Cougars during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No matter what happens when the dust settles on BYU’s conference affiliation future, the 2011 season will go down as a memorable one for several reasons.

The biggest?

BYU 24, Tulsa 21.

For the third consecutive year, the Cougars have ended their season on a winning note, this time in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in thrilling come-from-behind fashion on Friday.

Or was that snatching-victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat fashion?

No matter the sports cliché you choose to use, Riley Nelson’s psych-out move of faking a spike to stop the clock and then hitting Cody Hoffman in the end zone for the decisive score was genius.

Not to mention Matt Reynolds’ helmetless block.

As a former offensive lineman destined for NFL greatness (in my own mind, at least), Reynolds’ willingness to make that block—which caught the Tulsa defender off guard as much as the rest of us—was just as genius as Riley’s move.

Here’s to you Monster Matt!

If 2011 proves to be BYU’s only season as an independent—and let’s hope it is—the manner in which the Cougars closed the season made the experiment worthwhile.

After months of sagging attendance and fan interest, BYU football became interesting and exciting again on the last Friday of the year, a fitting opening act for the bowl biggies that start rolling our way early next week.

Compiling a 10-win season amongst the distractions of conference realignment talks and Jake Heaps’ departure is an impressive accomplishment for a team that got off to a rocky start.

As the Mountain Dew flows and the confetti rains down on Bronco Mendenhall and his gritty Cougars, one can only wonder what lies in store as an encore in 2012.

Did someone say Big 12?

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