Air Force added another piece of supporting evidence Saturday for this axiom: If you want to beat BYU, you have to get to Ty Detmer.
The Cougars' offensive line - averaging about 285 pounds per man - handled the Falcons' defensive line - averaging about 232 pounds - like Hulk Hogan handling Raggedy Andy. The Cougars might tell you it wasn't easy, but it sure looked it.With as much time as he had in Colorado Springs, Detmer might throw effectively against the San Francisco 49ers.
Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry is aware that his team was outmanned. "I thought that it was a complete physical mismatch," he said. "We were just unable to get pressure on Detmer all day. I certainly think we helped him in his chance to win the Heisman Trophy. Heck, maybe he'll even send us a `thank you'."
Detmer used the Falcons to raise his season pass efficiency to 158.9, up from his previous 157.4. That still leaves him second in the nation to Virginia's Shawn Moore, who dropped only slightly - to 166.4 - after his team's loss to Georgia Tech. Moore threw two interceptions, but he got 344 yards with just 18 pass completions.
Moore's effort probably means he will continue to be the favorite in the Heisman race, so DeBerry may not get any thank-you notes this year.
Air Force also proved something else Saturday: You have to throw to beat BYU. Throwing alone might not defeat the Cougars, but it's a cinch running the ball alone won't.
The Cougar defenders like nothing more than to see a team run at them. After a September when they became somewhat shell-shocked from week after week of aerial bombardment, the BYU defense has reveled in the past three games, limiting opponents' offenses to an average of 306 yards per game.
Note that the only opponent of the past three that was effective against the Cougars was New Mexico, primarily a passing team.
In the meantime, BYU has outscored its last three foes 161-47.
BYU's coaches and players seem most surprised by their recent dominance. Coach LaVell Edwards said he never expected Saturday's 54-7 score, noting: "Our games with Air Force year in and year out have been very close, and usually high-scoring on both sides."
"I thought it was going to be tougher than it was," said Y. linebacker Scott Giles. "I thought it would be more of a dogfight."
One observer who wasn't surprised by BYU's margin of victory is Utah Coach Ron McBride. Last Tuesday, three days after his team was demolished by Air Force 52-21, McBride predicted that "BYU will beat them (Air Force) good. BYU has played against their wishbone a lot and done well. I'll be real surprised if it's a close game."
Saturday's victory got the attention of some UPI poll voters, who perhaps noticed that BYU held Air Force to seven points, while this week's No. 1 team, Notre Dame, gave up 27 points to the Falcons - in South Bend, Ind. The Cougars rose to 6th in the UPI rankings, up from 9th last week.
It also got the attention of ESPN, which announced that it will televise the BYU-Wyoming game Saturday. Coincidentally, an ESPN analyst said last week that Detmer's Heisman chances had been hurt by his not having appeared on national TV since early in the season. This game may be Detmer's last chance to impress the voters before ballots have to be cast.