Suddenly, barely four full quarters into the season, BYU is down to its No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart; a JC transfer brand-new to the program who has never taken a snap in D-I. His planned redshirt year now gone, a sickening feeling of deja vu is inescapable for Cougar fans.
Yet on the next possession, Jason Beck leads the Cougars on a 35-yard drive capped by Naufahu Tahi's strong run to the end zone. BYU holds twice, forcing a punt and a failed 49-yard field goal attempt by the Cardinal. Beck leads a second 46-yard drive which resulted in a Matt Payne field goal. The Cougars lead 10-0; Jason Beck is 8-14 with no interceptions; and life is good. The Cougars have found their quarterback?
Or not … From that point on, the Cardinal reeled of 37 unanswered points. Beck was 15-32, with no touchdowns and three interceptions. He was inaccurate on long passes and had trouble finding open receivers – who were open.
The last two years' bugbears reappeared with a vengeance. Got penalties? Fourteen, including several personal fouls. Turnovers? Hey, they racked up eight. Awful special teams play? How about a kickoff returned untouched for a 99-yard score. Finally, after a stellar game the week before, not a single Payne kickoff reached the end zone, and his punts sailed into the end zone all night long instead of inside the 20.
The offensive line was, well, offensive. Poor Jason Beck was harried all night long. The defense was spotty, alternately coming up with big plays and giving up big plays.
Statistically, the game was a dead heat. First downs were 21 apiece. Total offense was 369 to 329 in favor of Stanford. The Cardinal held the ball for only 2:04 more than the Cougars. But eight turnovers and 14 penalties means you're just not going to win. Ever. Period.
The next two weeks could be very ugly, as USC comes to Provo and BYU travels to Boise State, both Top 25 teams. The Trojans are, of course, No. 1 in the land on both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. Stay tuned.
UNLV 3, Wisconsin 18.
Two straight visits by the Rebels to Camp Randall Stadium yielded two opposite results. Last year the visitors upset the Badgers 23-5 when Wisconsin marched up and down the field, but never got into the end zone. This year the final result was as expected, but getting there was a little strange.
Wisconsin's Defense scored three times in a row to open the game: a first quarter safety; followed by a blocked field goal attempt returned 86 yards for a touchdown; and another safety. A third quarter field goal was all the scoring the Rebels could squeeze out of just 174 yards of total offense. Next week: Air Force.
Air Force 42, Eastern Washington 20.
The final margin looks like a comfy Falcon victory, but it was anything but. Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry's troops look to struggle this year, as the I-AA Eagles, who lost 37-14 at Nicholls State last week, rang up 25 first downs and 413 yards of total offense against the home-standing Falcons. It was no fluke, either, as Eastern Washington maintained possession for 29:03, and were within eight points with 18:20 left in the game. Next week: at UNLV.
Wyoming 0, Texas A&M 31.
It wasn't quite as ugly as the final score indicated. The Aggies led only 10-0 at the half, and only 17-0 at the end of three. Nevertheless, the Cowboys managed only 12 first downs and 125 yards of total offense - 184 passing, and minus 59 on the ground. Next week: Bye. Ole Miss Rebels visit on Sept. 25.
Colorado State 0, Southern California 49.
It was 28-0 Trojans at halftime, aided by two CSU turnovers in the red zone. USC looked every bit the defending national champions while the Rams look like pretenders from a wannabe conference. Next week: Minnesota -- the first time a Big 10 team ever visits Ft. Collins.
New Mexico 27, Texas Tech 24.
The Lobos finally break through against a decent opponent after shooting themselves in the foot a week ago against Washington State. The Red Raiders have defeated New Mexico 33 out of 41 times, and not since 1984 had the Lobos prevailed. The teams were tied 21 at the half, and a Tech field goal was the only scoring in the third. New Mexico answered with three of its own to open the fourth quarter and then drove from its own 20 to hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired. Next week: at Oregon State.
Utah 23, Arizona 6.
While the press was a gaga that the Utes held the Wildcats to six points, they overlooked that Northern Arizona, a I-AA school, held the Wildcats to seven points until under 10 minutes remained in the game just the week before – then two easy touchdowns, the last after the Cats took over at the 36.
Furthermore, Utah managed only 326 yards of total offense. The I-AA Lumberjacks managed 280 against the Wildcats. Arizona is just not a good football team and will not be favored in any of its remaining games this year, although there could be an upset. Next week: at Utah State. The Aggies are 1-1, and looking for respect. They often play the Utes very tough and an upset is a distinct possibility if Utah keeps believing its press clippings.
San Diego State: Idle.
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