Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — After the storms comes the sunshine.
Yes, it’s a cheesy line, but what else are the BYU Cougars supposed to say after losing last week to Virginia and then beating Texas 40-21 on Saturday?
Which brings up cheesy line No. 2: They’re singin’ in the rain.
That waterlogged game at Virginia almost disappeared after BYU beat No. 15-ranked Texas. The Cougars’ schedule now looks far more intriguing. So hang on. It’s true that quarterback Taysom Hill's arm is still as unpredictable as, well, the weather. But his legs are just fine.
Meanwhile, someone else’s national championship aspirations just turned to burnt orange toast.
A week ago it seemed the Cougars might end up a .500 team. That may still happen. But in celebrating the biggest rushing night in school history, the Cougars seemed a different team, in a different season. On a weird planet where quarterbacks rush for nearly 300 yards and the second-driest state in America is hit with a deluge that delays the kickoff.
So the season is still interesting. If BYU can schedule more games like Texas — particularly home games — the Cougars will wear as well as a pair of trusty shoes.
By any measure, beating Texas was another milestone in the program. There have been other legendary wins against teams such as Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas A&M and Miami. But you’d have to go back to Oklahoma in 2009, then Notre Dame in 2004, to find a win that meant so much to a national audience.
Speaking of which, who were all those people with the lanyards around their necks?
Because the game was broadcast on three TV networks and four radio stations — and including the contingent of other media that regularly cover Texas — Saturday’s game was unusual. BYU issued more credentials than ever (330).
Hosting Texas is like hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
It can turn into an even bigger crowd than expected.
There are still some worries ahead. For instance, the weather. What is BYU going to bring along as a guest next game, a typhoon? Around 4 p.m. Saturday the sky darkened and the rain came in gusting sheets. Lightning flashed in the distance. Officials cleared the field during warm-ups, as well as the stands.
It didn’t seem to faze the Cougars at all.
“I think tonight we showed who we really are,” said All-America linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Still, you never know. Ahead is Utah, a 70-7 Saturday winner over Weber State. And Middle Tennessee, which routed Western Carolina and played respectably in a loss to North Carolina. And Utah State, which demolished Air Force. And Georgia Tech, a 70-0 winner over Elon. OK, it was Elon. It’s still not a game the Cougars can bank. And Houston, 2-0 after beating Southern and Temple. And Boise State just because. And Wisconsin and Notre Dame for obvious reasons. And Nevada because BYU lost last time it played there.
The only lockdown win: Idaho State.
Everything else at this point is debatable.
On the other hand, there are the twin bright spots — OK, sunny spots, if you must — that include Hill, who rushed for 259 yards, 166 in the first half. In addition, if he ever figures out his passing game, look out. On Saturday that didn’t happen. He completed just four of his first 17 passes and nine of 26 on the night. Some went high, some went shy, and some went into the shade to retire.
This of course came on the heels of last week’s game at Virginia, where a weather delay caused the teams to sit more than two hours. Most of the time BYU played like, well, a wet rag.
It could have happened again. This time the storm hit Edwards Stadium an hour before game time and stalled the kickoff time for nearly two hours. Once it began, though, it was the Longhorns that took the brunt. Hill rushed for three touchdowns as BYU set a single-game team rushing record (550).
It's true things would look better for BYU if it hadn’t flopped last week in a 19-16 loss, but it recovered nicely by stampeding the Longhorns. The remaining schedule, though tough, isn’t quite so daunting. And it's getting more interesting.
Because like any good suspense story, the Cougars just might have figured a way out.
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