No, it wasn't even close in the end, 45-10, and Ty Detmer broke or tied four more NCAA records and Ron Lopez tied a Utah State record for most interceptions thrown in a game and Roger Grant gained only 51 yards. And no one in the BYU dressing room was talking about those pesky Aggies.
But that's kind of how Utah State felt."We had them going for a while," said Utah State cornerback Ron Edwards. "We think we gained some respect that we've never had from them. Forty-five to 10 doesn't tell the whole game story."
Of course, Edwards had twice intercepted the possible Heisman winner in the first quarter, which ended with Utah State leading 3-0, so he could feel pretty good about himself.
"We played them tough. We're not going to hang our heads," agreed Lopez, who maybe didn't feel so good about himself. He accepted blame for the five interceptions he threw (Detmer also threw five). Back-to-back interceptions inside the Aggie 22-yard line in the second quarter gave BYU 10 points, and another in the third quarter was returned 31 yards for a touchdown by BYU's Josh Arnold.
But, even with back-to-back interceptions for scores in the second period, it was only 24-10 at the half, "and that was a credit to our offense, us, me," said Lopez, who was tkaing blame for giving BYU the points. "As a team, we feel good. We didn't stop fighting."
Things were going fairly well, in fact, until Arnold's interception return at 5:37 of the third quarter. The Aggies had twice intercepted Detmer but gave the ball back on a Grant fumble.
Arnold's touchdown broke the Aggies. "That interception did it," said Coach Chuck Shelton. "We never did get back in kilter."
That interception and the fact that Utah State couldn't capitalize on its interceptions of Detmer were the two things that disappointed Shelton, who can normally find lots of things to worry about even in a win.
Goaded into finding fault, he said, "I guess the interception in the third quarter really bothers me. If you want to pick a point in the game, that's got to be it. (And) The thing that kills you is not taking advantage of opportunities."
"We were doing a nice job of execution," said offensive coordinator Pat Behrns, "but we let it get away from us with the pressure BYU started to put on. We didn't handle it well. We let them fluster us."
Behrns thought Lopez was flustered on the third-quarter interception.
Lopez said it was because he'd gotten plays mixed up and threw behind the receiver (Ryan Duve).
"I think he got a little shook - and rightfully so," said Behrns.
"There was a lot of pressure in his face all day. It's hard to throw off your back foot," said Grant, who pinned the difference on BYU's big lines overcoming Utah State's on both offense and defense.
"I knew they were tough, but they played a lot better than I thought they were going to," Grant said.
"Early in the third quarter," said Grant, "our line was starting to get tired, and they were doing a lot of stunts up front that caused problems. I don't know if they made adjustments or we missed blocks, but they shut us down."
Grant, a junior-college transfer like Lopez, finished his first season at USU with 1,370 yards rushing; he was fourth nationally entering the game. Lopez completed 21 of 43 passes for one touchdown (to Tracey Jenkins) and five interceptions.
Jenkins' touchdown reception came on third down from the BYU 8 on that familiar fade route, this into the left corner. It was his 14th of the season, and it gave him TD receptions in eight straight games. It cut the BYU lead to 24-10, but that was as close as USU would get, with :20 left in the first half.
Jenkins twisted a knee on the catch and left the game for good with possible cartilage damage. The Aggies had also lost left guard Mike Vivoli in the first half with a severely pulled hamstring muscle, said trainer Dale Mildenberger.
Defensively, senior Kevin Bouwman finished his career with nine tackles, six solo and three assists. That sets his USU career record for tackles at 382. Atu Fihaki had four tackles and four assists, and Scott Munson six tackles and two assists.