BYU fans—make sure to thank the Cougars.
For the fourth straight year you only have to make a five-hour drive to the lights of Las Vegas for another rousing opportunity to play a fourth-place Pac-10 team.
Be honest—you weren’t really wanting to have to plan a trip to Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl or New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
After BYU’s devastating 32-7 loss to the Horned Frogs of TCU, the Cougars did accomplish one thing—they proved ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit right.
Herbstreit told viewers of ESPN’s SportsCenter coming into the 2008 college football season that the Cougars didn’t belong in discussions of top 10 teams and had no reserve in declaring that the Cougars were “ranked too high.”
Sure, Herbstreit also predicted a UCLA victory over BYU this season, and then the Cougars took a 59-0 win over the Bruins—can’t get them all right. But perhaps Herbstreit was merely looking at the past when he declared that the Cougars were too far up in the rankings.
A disheartening loss on the road in a promising season is something that Cougar fans are accustomed to.
BYU started off the 2006 season with Pac-10 foe Arizona in Tucson. The Cougars outgained the Wildcats by 60 total yards on the night and enjoyed a halftime lead. But after a special teams miscue and a lackluster offensive night, the Wildcats recorded the big win on a Nick Folk field goal with six seconds remaining in the game.
No. 23 Boston College was another big road game for the Cougars in 2006, and after another explosive start, the Cougars let Boston College back in the game.
BYU amassed 547 yards of offense compared to the Eagles' 471 yards. But the Cougars were unable to take advantage of several offensive opportunities and the Eagles eventually took a 23-20 double-overtime victory, leaving the Cougars aimed towards Vegas again.
Luckily for the Cougars, Celine Dion’s “New Day” show was still playing in Las Vegas in 2006.
The next season ushered in the first year of the Max Hall era, and Cougar fans were sure that the BCS would come calling. But it took only three weeks for the Cougars to begin making travel arrangements for Las Vegas. After a 27-17 loss to UCLA in the Rose Bowl, the Cougars followed with an uncharacteristic 55-47 loss at Tulsa.
Hall threw for 537 yards against Tulsa, and the Cougars had a chance to score at the end of regulation for a possible tie, but back-to-back false starts from offensive lineman Travis Bright ended the rally and secured the win for Tulsa.
The Cougars have won their last 16 games at friendly LaVell Edwards Stadium, and the BCS would surely be busted if BYU could play all 12 games in a season in Provo.
However, as long as there are quality teams and raucous crowds on the road, the Cougars will be destined for Vegas.
Hey, are Siegfried and Roy in town this year?