After disappointing loss to Wisconsin, Cougars look ahead to Senior Day
Ravell Call, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU was hoping to crack the top 25 rankings this week.
Instead, the Cougars fell at Wisconsin Saturday, 27-17, halting their five-game winning streak. With the win, the Badgers jumped from No. 21 to No. 17 in the Associated Press poll.
Meanwhile, the only team that did drop from the AP rankings this week was BYU’s Nov. 23 opponent, Notre Dame, which lost at Pittsburgh, 28-21.
So much for a November to Remember.
Still, the Cougars (6-3) say they still have plenty to play for as they head into the final stretch of the season.
“We were knocking on the door of getting into the top 25,” senior wide receiver Skyler Ridley said at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday night. “A win here on the road would have put us in a good position going into the last few games. With a disappointing loss, we still need to bounce back. We have some big games left on the schedule and we still have a lot to prove.”
BYU hosts Big Sky foe Idaho State Saturday (1 p.m., MST, BYUtv). The Bengals (3-7) dropped a 38-31 decision to Portland State over the weekend.
Not only did the Cougars lose to Wisconsin, but they also lost three players to injuries — linebacker Spencer Hadley (knee), wide receiver Mitch Mathews (shoulder) and tight end Devin Mahina (groin). More about the status of those players will be known Monday.
Saturday’s game marks the Cougars’ final home contest of the season, and the last contest at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the seniors.
“It’s always surreal to think about that,” Ridley said, “the last time running out in that stadium, the last time playing with these guys in that environment. It’s going to be special for me I can’t tell you I’m looking forward to it being my last (home) game, but I plan on doing everything I can to leave it out on the field. Then the rest of the season, to make it really special.”
While the Cougar offense looked rusty and out-of-sync for most of the Wisconsin game, BYU coaches and players said that the bye week didn’t make an impact on the outcome, and credited Wisconsin for its strong game plan and solid play.
The Badgers never trailed. The Cougars fell behind 17-3 at halftime, then 27-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Much was made of the atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium, including the famous “Jump Around” at the end of the third quarter.
Was the environment all that the Cougars thought it would be?
“To be honest, I anticipated it being a little louder,” Ridley said. “But when a team’s up by 20 points, they’re not going to be as loud. It was a great atmosphere, and a great opponent It was a great opportunity to come to Wisconsin. It felt like we put ourselves in a good spot, but didn’t make enough plays to get a win.”
For Ridley and the rest of the seniors, it’s all about finishing the season strong. After playing Idaho State, the Cougars have a trip to Notre Dame, then a regular-season finale at Nevada — a game that will be played in star linebacker Kyle Van Noy’s hometown.
Then it’s an appearance in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 27 against a Pac-12 foe, which could be Washington, Arizona, Oregon State or USC.
“As a senior, knowing the road’s coming to an end, we’re just trying to stay positive and stay excited,” Ridley said. “We’ve got some great guys, great players on this team. Next week, after a loss, the attitude doesn’t change. That drive to get better doesn’t change. It will be tough to bounce back after we were so close to being where we wanted to be. But I think we have the leaders on the team to move forward.”
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