Dick Harmon: Every team has a claim as best in the state
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Now, who has the best football team in the state? With BYU's 6-3 win over Utah State Friday night, enquiring minds want to know.
But can we really say? Who can claim ownership of the Wagon Wheel? Whose even got it? Who has cared for years and years since schedules are so messed up? Utah State beat Utah on a last-second play in overtime.
Utah beat BYU in a game that wouldn't end and claimed a 3-point victory on a missed Cougar field goal that could have meant overtime.
BYU defeated Utah killer Utah State by scoring 6 points Friday night.
BYU is 1-1, but so is USU. Same with Utah.
So, it is a tie.
Or is it? The Cougars could claim superiority since beating a team that beat another.
But so could Utah. It goes on down the line and ends up in a circle.
Who has the best quarterback? Up to Friday, the leading candidate was USU's sensational Texan, Chuckie Keeton. He had a heck of a job facing BYU's nationally ranked goose-egg machine.
Utah had an injury and now Jon Hays is standing, albeit it with losses in three of Utah's last four games, the most recent at the hands of USC Thursday.
And what about BYU freshman Taysom Hill? In his second start, he's 2-0. No other quarterback in the state can claim that as a starter.
It's probably Keeton, but throw Hill a bone. Facing the best defense the Cougars have faced all season, he threw one interception, but his 61-yard touchdown drive with four perfect passes led to the only touchdown of the 6-3 BYU win.
Head to head with the talented Keeton, Hill had better numbers (24 of 36 for 235, 1 TD, 1 interception, a 125.1 efficiency rating) to the Aggie sophomore's 22 of 38 for 202 yards and a 102.5 rating). Keeton also faced the toughest defense he's seen all season.
One thing that no one can debate is Bronco Mendenhall has created the best defense around. It may not be one of the best in the country, but statistically, you can argue it is.
Facing the stiffest test of the season in the Aggie offense, BYU defenders did not allow a touchdown for what is now a 13th quarter when they finished with Keeton, Kerwin Williams and the Aggies.
Sporting a killer rush with Ezekiel Ansah and Kyle Van Noy, BYU held the Aggies to 243 total yards, just 41 net rushing yards on 24 carries. The Cougars limited USU to 4 of 14 third-down conversions, forced a Keeton fumble (Matt Hadley) and got an interception (Jordan Johnson).
BYU was so good on the run that when the Aggies called for Williams to take a tote with the ball, it was almost a wasted down.
On the other hand, face it, the Cougar offense is a mistake-filled work in progress. Inopportune holding penalties, a botched fake field goal, a blocked field goal attempt, a missed field goal and a shanked PAT do not make for inspiring positive commentary.
And how about a BYU player coming off the bench to get a personal foul penalty that killed a drive right after a fourth-quarter first down inside USU's 40.
Yet, two freshmen stepped up for the Cougars Friday night and actually preserved the victory for Mendenhall's defense.
Hill made some huge plays in the fourth quarter and gained 80 yards rushing on 19 carries. That is way too much running for Hill, who could end up like Riley Nelson and will endure a painful weekend licking his bruises.
Jamaal Williams locked up Friday night's BYU win, taking option pitches and gaining two huge first downs in the waning moments to allow the Cougars to run out the clock with that 6-3 lead.
The duo made huge plays in an offense that obviously has its shortcomings in protection and run blocking acumen.
Perhaps that is a starting point for offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.
And that gets us back to the big question.
Who reins supreme in the football world in the state of Utah.
Everyone's got a valid argument.
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