34-31 would be considered a fairly high scoring game, wouldn’t you say? It’s a decent offensive showing, although not overly stunning…unless that’s your halftime score. After only 2 quarters of play, BYU found themselves up by a field goal over Tulsa. It certainly was a showcase for the offenses, with an absolute shootout ‘til the end taking place Saturday night in Tulsa, with the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa coming out of it at the end with a 55-47 victory over the Cougars.
If you love passing, and lots of it, you might want to ask around to see if any of your friends Tivo-ed this one. While it may be a bit long (a little over 4 hours, thanks to two pass-happy offenses), it sure won’t disappoint. Now, on the other hand, if you’re a defensive guru and thrive on gutty, hard-nosed, fought-in-the-trenches football, well, you might just want to skip over this one.
The two teams were racking up all sorts of frequent flyer miles with a combined total of 1,027 yards through the air, and 1,289 yards of total offense. BYU quarterback Max Hall went 34/57 for 537 yards while Paul Smith of Tulsa went 21/35 for 454 yards. The offenses certainly didn’t have a hard time moving the ball. Tulsa seemed to march down the field in a matter of plays, while BYU continually scored in the traditional manner, marching down methodically with a mix of runs and quick passes.
Another heads up for people who might go back and watch this game: you can go ahead and check out the game in place of going to the gym. I think I burned more calories just watching this game than I would of if I had in fact gone to the gym. In addition, my blood pressure raised to unsafe levels, so as a disclaimer, consult your doctor to make sure your health is such that it can handle the stress. I actually watched this game with hundreds of other fans in a park here in Provo, projected on a huge 40 foot screen. I’m fairly certain I could easily return to the park and find the exact place where I was sitting on the grass: I kept ripping up small chunks of turf out of frustration.
Why the frustration? BYU had plenty of opportunities to put this one away. But, when you have 14 penalties for 138 yards, 2 missed PATs, and an interception taken back for 6, you can’t help but begin to think, what if? While BYU’s offensive production was impressive (I continue to be amazed by the performance of quarterback Max Hall, who played in his 3rd game at BYU, and who prior to the season opener, hadn’t thrown a pass in a competitive game since high school 4 years prior), BYU’s defense was, well, atrocious. Safeties continued to get beat, deep throws were given up constantly, and BYU simply didn’t have an answer for Tulsa’s offense. Thank heaven BYU’s offense was banging on all cylinders. I was convinced that the first team to reach 80 points would probably win the game.
Surprisingly, BYU’s defense looked confused and disorganized. While the offense has been impressive in the 2 previous games, the defense of Brigham Young had been the strong point. I, personally, was convinced that Tulsa wouldn’t score over 20 points. Boy, was I wrong. Tulsa came out swinging and no matter what BYU tried on defense, it simply was not enough to stop the Golden Hurricane attack.
BYU’s offense received help from running back Harvey Unga who ran for an even 100 yards on the evening, as well as outstanding performances by receivers Austin Collie (2004 MWC Freshman of the Year, and back in action after a 2 year LDS Church mission) and Michael Reed. With the loss, BYU drops to 1-2 on the year, and scheduled to start conference play next Saturday back in Provo against 3-0 Air Force.
I can’t help but hope this loss, combined with another heart-wrenching loss last week at UCLA, will ignite the fire in BYU. Believe me, BYU is not at a lack for talent – but between penalties and missed opportunities, BYU has dropped two games that they very well could have won. Call me optimistic, but I believe BYU will win out and go 10-2. Hmm, that sounds familiar – last year’s team started off in a similar fashion, going 1-2 to begin the season, with both losses coming on the road and both losses being games that could have easily been wins for BYU (a last second field goal by Arizona and a double OT loss at Boston College). Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said those losses shaped the 2006 team, and catapulted them into a 10-2 season and 11-2 after a blowout victory over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Will 2007 follow suit? Time will tell.