BYU Wins its First "Must-Win" Game of the Season

<b>BYU 31, Colorado State 21</b> <br> If there was a "must-win" game for BYU this early in a season, this was it.

The loser fell to 1-4 on the year and 0-1 in conference play. The Cougars were fresh off a near-miss at Boise State with sophomore quarterback John Beck having the best game of his career.

Credit Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick and his staff for adjusting their game plan based on what they saw on videotape. BYU repeatedly burned Boise State's blitz-happy defense so the Rams opted to shut down the long game. Cougar coach Gary Crowton vowed during the week to run the ball more proficiently. The football gods granted both wishes.

The Cougars ran for 200 net yards, with both feature backs averaging over six yards per carry – the first time this weekend one year ago at San Diego State that BYU netted over 200 rushing yards. Naufahu Tahi carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards, while Curtis Brown had 93 yards in15 tries. After subtracting sacks, Beck netted zero rushing yards. Wide receivers Jason Kukahiko carried once for 12 yards and Antwaun Harris had two carries for eight yards. In all, including sacks, the Cougars tallied 46 rushing attempts.

Meanwhile, Beck completed 24 passes in 42 attempts for 238 yards, the longest being a picture-perfect 40-yard strike to Austin Collie that put the Cougars ahead for good at 24-21.

More importantly, Beck showed increasing maturity as BYU, at one point, converted six consecutive third downs to seal the win. Two of those were short passes by Beck, one to Harris running from left to right over the middle, and the other a perfect touch screen pass to Tahi that he carried for first down yardage.

On this night, the Cougars had too many weapons for the Rams to contain. Although Watkins was held to four short-yardage receptions, Harris, Collie and Brown also caught four each while Tahi and Rod Wilkerson had three each. Tight end Dennis Pitta and Kukahiko rounded it out with one catch apiece.

Defensively, BYU seemed to lack the same intensity they showed at Boise. Brady Poppinga was relatively quiet with only three tackles, while Cameron Jensen led the effort with seven solo tackles, plus one assist. The BYU pass rush was non-existent as Ram quarterback Justin Holland wasn't sacked until CSU's second-to-last possession of the game. Holland completed 22 of 36 for 359 yards, with one interception and one touchdown.

The game was marred by bad officiating, however. Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams took a 17-21 lead when Uldis Jaunarajs was driven out of bounds a full yard short of the goal line, but was awarded a touchdown. Late in the second half, the Cougars were flagged for a pass interference call that never happened. In addition, on BYU's second to last possession two poor spots gave the Rams the ball on downs at their own one-yard line, and on the following play CSU quarterback Holland was flushed from the pocket in the end zone and appeared to step on the end line for a safety, but no call was made.

Next: Oct. 8 (Friday) vs. UNLV

Air Force 21, Navy 24
For the second straight year the Middies downed the Falcons, this time in Colorado Springs. Navy improved to 5-0 even though Air Force out-gained them 415 yards to 321; had 25 first downs to Navy's 14; and possessed the ball over 34 minutes to Navy's 25:36. The difference was Navy converted three of four scoring opportunities into touchdowns and added a field goal. Meanwhile, the Falcons' four chances resulted in only two touchdowns (one followed by a two-point conversion) and two field goals, a difference of four points. With the loss, Air Force falls to 2-3 (1-1), with only one victory against a Div. 1 opponent, UNLV.

Next up: Oct. 9 vs. New Mexico.

Utah 28, New Mexico 7
The game wasn't as close as the score indicated as Utah exacted revenge for its only conference loss last year. The Utes rolled up 24 first downs to the Lobos' 8, and 466 yards of total offense to only 157 for their hosts. Utah also forced New Mexico to punt 14 times. New Mexico's only score came on a fumble returned 68 yards. Replays showed Ute quarterback Alex Smith had his arm in motion. The only fly in the ointment for Utah is that with the conference's best running back (DonTrell Moore) out with strained knee ligaments, the Lobos were unable to test Utah. In fact, the Utes might not be tested at all this year until a bowl game. Their four out-of-conference opponents are 8-10 at this point, with two of those eight wins coming against Division I-AA opponents.

Next: Utah - bye, then Oct. 16 vs. North Carolina / New Mexico - Oct. 9 at Air Force.

San Diego State 10, UCLA 33
After a near miss at Michigan and a win over a weak Nevada Wolfpack, the Aztecs fell back to earth against an average UCLA squad. Big plays told the tale as the Bruins had scoring plays of 57, 52 yards, and three field goals of 40 yards of more. SDSU moved the ball between the 20-yard lines, but could do no more.

Next: Oct. 9 at Wyoming.

Wyoming 31, Louisiana-Monroe 10
Only 12,125 showed up to watch the Cowboys pummel the Indians, who fell to 0-4. Wyoming improved to 3-1 as the 'Pokes rolled up 30 first downs and 436 yards of offense.

UNLV 48, Nevada-Reno13
Are the Rebels finally waking up – after John Robinson announced his retirement? After another awful start, UNLV put up 28 points in the fourth quarter to post their first win of the year and give Rebel fans a glimmer of hope. Still, in-state rival Nevada's only wins this year have come against Buffalo and Sacramento State.

Next: Oct. 8 at BYU.

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