SALT LAKE CITY — BYU fans, I'm sure, would rather just forget about the whole thing. But in the aftermath of Utah's shocking beatdown of the Cougars Saturday night, we still have a few thoughts floating around . . .
Despite the lopsided score in Provo, the idea that you never know what you'll get from the Utah-BYU game still holds true. No, there wasn't a blocked field goal in the last seconds, no overtime thriller or a late 4th-and-17 pass. But who in their right mind would have predicted a 44-point blowout by Utah on the Cougars' home field? . . .
Ute coach Kyle Whittingham has now been on the both extremes of the spectrum in the Utah-BYU series. Besides being on the winning end of the second-largest point total for Utah against BYU and second-biggest margin of victory as he was Saturday night, he was also a player for BYU in the biggest margin of victory over Utah and second-largest point total against Utah — BYU's 56-6 victory in 1980 when he was a junior linebacker . . .
I question those who said before the game that Utah had more reason to get up for the rivalry game than BYU. The Utes have a Pac-12 championship to play for, whether they win the rivalry game or not. For BYU, the Utah game is one of the biggest on its schedule and with no league championship to play for and the Cougars want to get the best possible win-loss record they can. Still, the fact that the Utes have won so many games in the series in recent years as the underdog makes you wonder if they are more motivated for the annual grudge match . . .
Loved the red vs. blue jerseys, which was probably a first for the rivalry. And may be the last in Provo if the Cougars have their way . . .
All the BYU fans calling for a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, a new coach or all of the above, need to take a deep breath. Saturday's game still counts as just one loss. Sure the Cougs' preseason hopes for a BCS berth or undefeated season are long gone, but the expectations were probably too high to begin with. Look for Bronco Mendenhall's team to recover from another 1-2 start and finish strong . . .
In fact, BYU may still end up winning more games than Utah this year. That's the difference between Central Florida, Idaho, Idaho State, San Jose State and New Mexico State versus Washington, Arizona State, Pitt, Cal and Arizona.
Give Mendenhall credit for taking responsibility for his team's shocking big loss and not making excuses afterward. He sat through a long press conference after the game and didn't blame officials or single out players, but instead put the blame on himself . . .
Perhaps Ute fans who have been on Jordan Wynn's case since the start of the season can keep quiet for awhile. While BYU's mistakes — thanks in part to Utah's defense — were a big reason for Saturday's slaughter, Wynn played a big part in the victory. In fact, the 63-yard drive Wynn led just before halftime when he completed five straight passes, may have been the key to Utah's win, since it gave the Utes the lead and momentum going into halftime. Then right after the half, Wynn led the Utes on a 6-play 75-yard drive to make it 21-10, after which things snowballed in the Utes' favor . .. .
Finally, I can't agree with those who say the Utah-BYU rivalry game shouldn't continue. Of course it should. I think BYU is more than willing to keep it going as long as it is an independent and needs to fill 12 slots on its schedule every year. Some Ute officials have hinted that the rivalry game may not be played indefinitely because of Utah's football schedule, which allows for only three non-conference games every year. Rather than worry it might lose sometimes and hurt its overall record, perhaps Utah should adopt the attitude that it expects to beat the Cougars every year. I think local fans would always rather see games against a longtime rival than an out-of-state opponent, even if they don't always win the rivalry game.
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