PROVO — Something happened to BYU on its way to delivering that Rise Up mantra that was supposed to be a theme song as an independent in football.
It was Utah.
The Utes patiently watched the Cougars self-destruct Saturday and then rose up and delivered an old-fashioned whipping to the Band of Bunglers.
Utah did it with better execution, more plays. Just simple clean football.
The Cougars unraveled almost as fast as that giant field-wide flag before kickoff. BYU had six fumbles and lost all of them.
Utah carried the Pac-12 banner for the first time in this rivalry and looked every bit the part in the second half as they took control.
This is not what BYU signed up for with ESPN and the idea of exposure, to get blown out on its home field by 44 points.
Utah did it with much-criticized Jordan Wynn looking every bit the calm, collected and experienced quarterback. Even with a limited-motion throwing arm, Wynn delivered huge throws time and time again.
Ute offensive coordinator Norm Chow, formerly with the same title at BYU, on a night BYU honored all its tight ends, used Ute tight end Jake Murphy to lead his offense to a go-ahead halftime touchdown, a 13-10 Utah lead that BYU undid the Cougars.
Wynn patiently delivered plays behind an offensive line that effectively kept BYU's front seven from pressuring him. Wynn may have thrown a pick in the first half and had BYU corner Corby Eason drop another, but he shook that off and used his unhurried perch to pick apart BYU's secondary.
The same couldn't be said of BYU's much-heralded quarterback Jake Heaps.
Wynn schooled Heaps in the simple art of trusting his line and taking his time. Whatever jitters and impatience Heaps left Oxford, Miss., with, he continued with it Saturday from the opening drive when his mishandling of a bad hike gifted Utah a 7-0 lead.
In the first five minutes of this game you got to thinking, Utah's best offense was BYU's offense.
Heaps hurried when he didn't have to. He missed open receivers on third-down plays time and time again and with Joshua Quezada and J.J. DiLuigi also fumbling the first quarter, it was a minor miracle BYU somehow led 10-7 before Murphy's catch snuffed that out.
The Cougar defense looked stout, but a trio of pass interference penalties extended Utah drives at critical times. After six turnovers by BYU's offense, those defenders were left dispirited and played like it in Utah's 24-point fourth quarter, the butt end of a 40-point Ute second half scoring barrage.
In criticizing BYU's offense, one must credit Utah's defense. Plenty of Utes forced fumbles by hits, grabs or pressure. But in fairness, the Cougars did a pretty good job of messing up on their own, and it all started on the third play of the game with a bad hike and fumble.
Then BYU went fumble, fumble, fumble, fumble, interception, and fumble. The last came on a Utah hit on backup quarterback Riley Nelson late in the waning minutes of the game.
The six fumbles were the most BYU has ever lost in a game
This is a sad commentary on the debut of offensive coordinator Brandon Doman, whose energy and vision had been extolled by all his offensive players all summer.
With 10 returning offensive starters, Doman was supposed to benefit from veterans and he was supposed to take things past the Robert Anae era after consulting with the best minds in the game.
At 1-2 now as a team, the Cougar offense has consistently showed it is incapable of scoring points.
BYU's offense lacks poise, execution and confidence. It finished the game to a half-empty LaVell Edwards Stadium that had seen enough after three quarters.
BYU's offense has scored just three touchdowns — all Ross Apo receptions — In 12 quarters through three games. One-fourth of the way into the season, the Cougars are averaging 13.3 points a game.
After a week of acute emphasis on execution, the Cougars struggled to avoid costly flags that set Heaps in horrible down and distances against Kalani Sitake's hungry defenders.
Two BYU fumbles led to 14 of Utah's 16 points in the third quarter which essentially destroyed the Cougars.
With Utah's entry in the Pac-12 and BYU going independent with the help of ESPN, this game at home was a critical opportunity for BYU to make some hay and make a statement of some kind.
Instead, BYU only stuttered.
It was Utah who spoke the statement.
In pregame build up that had both the Utes and Cougars looking for answers on offense, Utah found it.
BYU is still on a quest to find it.
"We were outcoached, outplayed and outexecuted the entire game," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall.
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