It may have been the rain that put a damper on the new aerial attack Air Force supposedly had rolled up its sleeve. Air Force’s meager 98 yards passing through the air could easily be justified by blaming the inclement weather. That is, only if BYU hadn’t put up nearly 300 themselves.
Max Hall continued to do just what fans in Provo expect from every quarterback who steps onto the field at LaVell Edwards stadium: put up big numbers. While Hall had a nice afternoon, despite the rain, throwing for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns, running back Harvey Unga added to the balanced attack by running for 111 yards on 22 carries. However, Unga’s best play of the afternoon came on the receiving end of one of Hall’s tosses. With 4th and 9 on the Air Force 29, BYU decided to go for it. While it did show a lack of trust in the kicking game (and rightfully so…), it ended up paying big dividends for the Cougars, as Hall found Unga running down the sideline for the score.
Now please allow for a personal comment. That corner of the endzone where Unga scored on the 4th and 9 happened to be right in front of my seat. After catching the ball and taking a few steps, it was obvious that Unga took one step out of bounds before making his way to the endzone. Looking around, I realized I wasn’t the only one who caught that. Apparently all of section Q saw it too. Everyone saw it, that is, except the refs. The play wasn’t called back to the 2 or 3 yard line where he stepped out, but rather, the game continued as usual. My point, I guess then, is this: if the referees missed something THAT obvious, what ELSE were they missing down there? I’ll stop there, before I go off on another one of my referee rants. It’s not healthy.
By that point, BYU had opened up a comfortable lead at 24-0 and kept Air Force scoreless until 10:54 in the 3rd. With the failed two point conversion, Air Forced remained at 6, while BYU scored again on a 2 yard run by running back Manase Tonga, jumping up to what would become the final score, 31-6.
The loss bumped Air Force to 3-1 and boosted BYU back up to .500 at 2-2. This adds even more drama to the MWC race, which obviously won’t follow anyone’s preseason predictions. TCU, the favorite to not only win the conference but make a run as the year’s BCS buster, went down to Air Force last week. Utah, who was picked 3rd, had looked awful in the first 2, then absolutely brilliant against #10 UCLA, went right back to downright terrible Saturday against UNLV. Meanwhile, BYU dominates at home and loses heartbreakers on the road, hanging in at that 2-2 mark. Point is – the MWC is up for grabs.
BYU, after two weeks on the road, was back in familiar style: offense banging on all cylinders and defense simply shutting down the opponent and creating all kinds of confusion. In fact, it didn’t take long for the defense to get in gear, picking off a Sean Carney pass only a few plays into the game. So, it was nice to see BYU back playing like we know they can. Now, after all is said and done, I’ve narrowed down my ideas as to why BYU had a rough go on the road. While it could be the amount of penalties (25 for 222 yards) or amount of yards given up (831 combined), or turnovers (7) or even points allowed (82), I believe I’ve nailed it down, as to why BYU lost games to UCLA and Tulsa: BYU just can’t seem to pull off the comeback win over teams with gold helmets on which the name of the school is written in blue cursive. Call me crazy, but that’s gotta be it. So, I think as long as BYU can manage to avoid the gold-helmeted, blue-cursive-writing opponents, they have a great shot at going 10-2 this year, of which I am even more convinced after watching BYU get back in gear, pounding Air Force with style.