Desultory: Lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order; disconnected, fitful.
And so it was. The Rebels made a living on BYU mistakes, and the Cougars were fortunate that the Rebels lacked the wherewithal to make that living anything other than meager. UNLV opened the scoring after picking up a Matt Allen fumble at the BYU 27. The Cougars took the ensuing kickoff and moved to a first-and-goal at the Rebel 10, but on third-and-seven quarterback Max Hall was hit as he threw, the ball fluttered weakly skyward, and UNLV intercepted to avert the threat.
Helped by a pass interference call, UNLV moved to their own 43 before punting to the Cougar seven-yard line. A 93-yard drive put the Cougars up 7-3, but the Rebels managed to eke out a 43-yard field goal to stay in contention. A sack and two incompletions forced another Cougar punt, but Bryan Kehl picked up his second interception in as many games. Among UNLV's wants is an offense that can come from behind, and BYU had a chance to put some pressure on the Rebels with a touchdown, but after picking up one first down, Hall was intercepted for the second time and the half ended with BYU leading 7-6.
Long drives on the Cougars' first two possessions of the second half resulted in a touchdown and field goal, opening a 17-6 lead and forcing UNLV to throw the ball. After a long run after the catch by Dennis Pitta, BYU was again was poised to put the game away, but again Hall threw an interception, this one coming at the goal line on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Rebels were unable to capitalize, however, and BYU added another touchdown late in the game to take a 24-6 lead. UNLV scored a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minutes of the game, and the game ended with a 24-14 score.
Harvey Unga shone again, carrying 25 times for 175 yards. Hall was below average, completing nearly two-thirds of his 33 attempts, but also tossed three interceptions to only one touchdown.
Looking forward, with the win BYU advances to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in conference, the same pace as last year, but there's a gremlin lurking. Six games into the season, a good team will not be committing significant numbers of penalties (seven) or turnovers (four). There are still teams on the Cougars' schedule that will exact a price for those mistakes: TCU, Wyoming and Utah, to be specific. Any one of those three will take this performance and turn BYU's ‘W' into an ‘L.' TCU and Utah, each with two conference losses, would need additional help to win a title, but Wyoming would own the tie-breaker over the Cougars should the Cowboys win out.
Next up: For BYU, Eastern Washington. For UNLV, Colorado State.
New Mexico 20, Wyoming 3
The Lobos had a week off after losing a close game to the Cougars. They used it to good advantage and were well prepared for a trip to Laramie. While the Lobos picked up only 15 first downs, they committed no turnovers and only three penalties. The Cowboys were off to their best start in years and were well positioned for a title run with BYU scheduled come to Laramie, but sputtered on offense and paid the price.
New Mexico was all business, scoring first on a 12-play drive to open the game 3-0, and never trailed. It was the only score for 23 minutes, but the Cowboys put together a 17-play drive to knot the score with just 2:36 in the half. The Lobos answered just four plays later as Donovan Porterie found Travis Brown for a 63-yard scoring pass with seconds left in the half.
After an exchange of punts to start the second half, the Cowboys found themselves pinned at their own seven-yard line. On first down, quarterback Karsten Sween fumbled, and the Lobos picked it up for an easy touchdown.
Wyoming fought back and had a chance to get back in the game, driving on the next possession to a first down at the New Mexico 21, but on fourth-and-one, a Sween pass fell incomplete and the Lobos were firmly in control. Wyoming never threatened again.
Next up: for New Mexico, at SDSU. For Wyoming, at Air Force.
Utah 23, San Diego State 7
The Aztecs were just what the Utes needed to string together their third-straight win, their first in the conference, and go above .500 for the first time this season. Brian Johnson looked good, if not great, completing 21 of 28, but for only 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Good was good enough, however, as the Utah running game picked up 282 yards against a porous SDSU defense.
Next up: for Utah, at TCU Thursday night, in a game that will kill one team's slim hopes of a conference title. For SDSU, New Mexico.
TCU 38, Stanford 36
In their come-from-behind win in Palo Alto, TCU did what Southern Cal couldn't by batting down a last-gasp Cardinal pass and thus sealing the victory. Stanford led 31-17 late in the third quarter, but TCU answered with a 70-yard pass play to cut the led to seven and then forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. The Frogs then promptly marched 60 yards in nine plays to tie the score. It took Stanford only 2:23 to regain the lead with a 40-yard field goal, but the Cardinal defense couldn't stop TCU from scoring the winner with 4:13 remaining.
Next up: Utah, Thursday night.
Air Force 45, Colorado State 21
It's now been more than a year since the Rams won a game, and the Falcons are the bookends on those 13-straight losses. Colorado State quarterback Caleb Hanie threw four more picks, bringing his season total to 12, whereas he only has 10 touchdowns on the season. He has the same amount of touchdowns and interceptions in his career, which 23 each.
Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney set a school record for career passing yards. With the win, the 4-1 Falcons remain in second place, but with the loss to BYU, they would need to win out and have two teams beat the Cougars in order to win the title.
Next up: for Air Force, Wyoming. For Colorado State, at UNLV.