In the case of BYU, many thought there would be signs of rust after a prolonged break in the season for the Cougars.
With the game against San Diego State postponed until December 1st due to fires raging in Southern California, BYU had a long time to think about its next game—especially since the game before to the break wasn’t much of a contest (a 42-7 beating of D-IAA Eastern Washington).
However, whatever rust people speculated might be visible on the Cougars was knocked right off against the Colorado State Rams.
On the first offensive play for the Cougars, QB Max Hall found redshirt freshman RB Harvey Unga, who scrambled his way for a 53-yard gain all the way down to the Colorado State 27.
The Cougars inarguably had found the oil can for their offense, with Hall going 22-30 for 355 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks.
It was obvious the Rams were dead set on stopping the BYU rushing attack, which had been more or less dominating in the previous two games (227 yards v. UNLV and 221 yards v. E. Washington). With the Rams constantly loading the box, the BYU passing game was wide open, and it was never more apparent than on a 45-yard TD pass that found sophomore receiver Austin Collie wide open in the secondary.
Another bright spot for the Cougars: only four penalties for 30 yards.
It seemed penalties had been the Achilles heel for the team all year long. Whether the long break had anything to do with that I don’t know; in any event it was nice to see a relatively clean game on both sides of the ball (Colorado State was flagged only five times for 30 yards).
Another benefit the Cougars received from the long break was getting Austin Collie back at 100 percent. Collie had been suffering from ankle problems and sore ribs, but he looked like his old self on Saturday, snagging eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.
BYU continued its streak of MWC wins that began at the start of last season. There's no doubt BYU is the team to beat in the Mountain West, staking its claim atop the conference with an unblemished 4-0 record, and a 12-0 mark dating back to last year.
While the going has been good so far, though, it’s hard to get too excited when you look at the upcoming schedule: Thursday v. TCU, 11/17 at Wyoming, then 11/24 at home v. rival Utah.
Following will be the game that was postponed, v. SDSU on 12/1.
My two cents: BYU will wrap up the season with four conference games in four weeks—and while I still believe BYU will win out, I don’t expect it to be the pounding MWC opponents have faced so far.
TCU has struggled, but after BYU came to Ft. Worth last year and shocked the Horned Toads at home, I’m sure this one’s gotta have a little bit more to it for the Toads. With a short week, the Cougars are in crunch mode, with the team running its usual Wednesday practice starting Monday.
While conference games to date have been slightly, dare I say, boring, I offer a few words of advice: buckle up.
I say boring in the sense that any time BYU puts in reserves at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game just seems to lose a little bit of luster. And that’s coming from a diehard fan.
As much as I love seeing BYU dominate, it's nice to see close, hard-fought battles—and the remaining games on the schedule look to be just that.
Is BYU really back to its true form? I’d love to think so, but if anything will tell us for sure, it’s the remaining games on the schedule for the Cougars.
So grab a seat, strap in, and in the words of a certain receiver who we’re certain you all just love to death, “Getcha popcorn ready.”