For all purposes, Brigham Young had the game secured by the end of the first quarter.
Brigham Young scored three times before Idaho could answer with a touchdown of its own, but the 28-7 first quarter lead would be all that the Cougars would need to drop Idaho to a 1-9 mark. The win improves Brigham Young to 6-4 on the season.
Some things can still be gleaned from the lopsided affair.
He only had 104 yards rushing on 10 carries, but he also had two touchdowns and didn’t play in the second half. Jamaal Williams is a true freshman, but he plays like he has been at the collegiate level for a couple of years.
The Vandals came into the game with a 1-8 record and were among the worst teams in the FBS in terms of points allowed and defense. Brigham Young needed a team like Idaho—a team that it could beat to boost its record to 6-4 overall and make it bowl eligible.
With the win, a trip to San Diego and the Poinsettia Bowl may be in the offing.
Though Brigham Young was able to move the ball decently well once the starters went out, the Cougars only put 10 points on the scoreboard in the second half. Of course, the Cougars didn’t need to score, but there might be some experience issues that come into play if the starters have to miss play time.
At the quarterback position alone, starter Riley Nelson threw for 236 in just over a half and ran for 49 yards, while backup James Lark threw for 51 yards and ran for 11 yards.
Brigham Young put 287 yards of passing up with 252 yards of rushing. That kind of balance can give opposing teams fits.
Nelson Riley and James Lark threw to 10 different receivers, and eight different Cougars toted the pigskin Saturday night.
The Cougars were also ranked No. 5 in first downs allowed at 15.11 per game. Idaho had 15 first downs.
Sustained drives keep the defense fresh, and dominating time of possession keeps the opposing team from putting points on the board. Against Idaho, the Cougars thoroughly dominated with a 35:47-24:13 edge in time of possession.
The Vandals rank near the bottom in many statistical categories. One of those categories is turnovers lost. Heading into Saturday night, the Vandals were tied for worst in the FBS with 27 turnovers on the season.
Five turnovers Saturday night may well put Idaho at the bottom by itself.
The Vandals, near the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference standings, will be leaving the WAC in 2013 and pursuing an independent schedule.
When Ezekiel Ansah showed up on the campus of Brigham Young University, the Ghana native had ideas about playing basketball. Fortunately for the football team, that didn’t work out. At 6’6” and 270 pounds, the senior is a powerful player who may have a future in the NFL.
Whether busting through to pressure the quarterback or stopping the run behind the line, Ansah gave the offensive line of the Vandals fits Saturday night. He is just one of many reasons that the Cougars are a defensive power.
Brigham Young ranks at No. 34 in the nation in third-down efficiency at 45.07 percent. Disdaining the punt for going for it on third and fourth downs, the Cougars were 8-for-17 in third down attempts and 3-of-5 in fourth down tries.
The Cougars also fumbled the ball twice, once on special teams and once when trying to punch the ball into the end zone on a fourth down play. Brigham Young’s third-down efficiency against Idaho was on par with its season totals, while its fourth-down conversion rate was below its season average.
Brigham Young set a season-high mark in scoring with the 52 points it posted against Idaho, but considering how well the Cougars moved the ball, there was opportunity to score more.
The Cougars can’t afford to turn over the ball in the red zone and will need to capitalize on its opportunities.
The temperatures dipped below 30 degrees for the game, and there was ice, making for a slick field. Idaho players slipped and fell; the Cougars didn’t seem to have a problem.
The Cougars have braved the cold, but with only two games left, they may not have to worry about snow again. The Cougars wrap up the season with games at San Jose and New Mexico.