So much for revenge as motivation.
Someone watching Saturday night's BYU-Hawaii game who hadn't seen last year's no-contest would have sworn that it was the Rainbows seeking to avenge their tarnished honor and wounded pride.Uh-uh. It was the same Cougars thrashed 59-28 this time who went down in flames by a similarly unimpressive 56-14 score last season.
Do you get the feeling the Cougs would like to say "Aloha" to the Islands permanently?
All they did this time was give up the most points ever by a BYU team, while allowing the Rainbows a school record 667 yards in total offense. For their efforts, they were dropped from fourth to ninth on the last UPI regular-season poll, effectively extinguishing their hopes for a national title.
After the game, the Cougars were already looking forward to next season, when the Rainbows make a rare appearance in Cougar Stadium.
"I'll be glad to get a shot at them in Provo next year," Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer said. "It will be nice to get them on the mainland, at 4,500 feet, and see how they handle that."
"It will be different next year, I guarantee you," said BYU Coach LaVell Edwards.
As for this game, it's inevitable for BYU fans to think that the day's Heisman-related events distracted the BYU players, kept them from getting in the right frame of mind for football.
Neither the players nor Edwards fell back on that excuse, even when offered the opportunity.
"I came ready to play," Detmer said. "I felt good warming up. There were just two or three key plays that we didn't communicate on."
"There was no fatigue, there were no Heisman distractions," said tightend Chris Smith. "We started out good, but we made some stupid mistakes that gave fuel to their fire."
Notice the common theme? Like last year, BYU made some mistakes early in this game that allowed an already emotionally charged Hawaii team to get a lead and momentum that it never relinquished.
Detmer threw four interceptions in the first half, and three of them led to Rainbow touchdowns. Meanwhile, BYU receivers dropped balls, linemen missed blocks, and defenders blew easy tackles.
"It was a group effort tonight," linebacker Rocky Biegel said. "We all contributed."
Give credit to the Rainbows, too. They had the Cougars confused and out of sync at the start, and didn't let up when BYU threatened to make a comeback in the third quarter.
"They just got the ball moving on us, kept us off-balance all night," Biegel said.
The game started innocently enough. After nine minutes it was tied, 7-7. Both offenses were moving the ball and showed potential for making it a shootout. Then Hawaii scored touchdowns on its next three possessions to lead 28-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Rainbows were shooting; the Cougars were out.
The Cougars made a mild run in the third quarter, scoring two touchdowns to cut Hawaii's lead to 41-28. With 16 minutes left in the game, a win didn't seem too far-fetched.
But Rainbow quarterback Garrett Gabriel came back with a 48-yard pass to Jeff Sydner, who fell just shy of the end zone, and Jamal Farmer ran it in on the next play, and BYU was finished.
And by the way, did we mention Gabriel? The Cougars may be eager to get the 'Bows in the Rockies next year, but they have to be glad that Gabriel won't be around. He plays against the Cougars like, well, like he's Ty Detmer and the Cougars are the WAC.
Gabriel completed 21 of 39 passes (54 percent) for 359 yards, three TDs and one interception. It was the second highest passing-yardage total of Gabriel's career; the highest, 440 yards, came last year against - you guessed it - BYU.
Detmer threw for 319 yards and three TDS, but he completed just 49 percent of his passes (22 of 45), the first time since he became a starter that he has thrown for less than 50 percent.
It wasn't entirely Detmer's fault, though. Hawaii's smaller lines were in control on both offense and defense. Detmer was sacked three times by the 'Bows, while the BYU defensive line rarely put serious pressure on Gabriel.
BYU did pass a few more milestones in this game. Detmer reached the 5,000-yard passing mark for the season in the second quarter on a 39-yard completion to Brent Nyberg. It made him the second player in NCAA history to accomplish the feat; Houston's David Klingler reached that mark Saturday in Tokyo against Arizona State. Detmer then surpassed Klingler and claimed the NCAA single-season passing record with a 29-yard toss to Andy Boyce in the third quarter. Detmer finished the season with 5,188 yards. By the third quarter Detmer had added another half dozen NCAA records to his collection, but that was small consolation.
Even the Heisman couldn't dull the effects of this defeat.
"The loss takes away a lot of the enjoyment from the trophy," Detmer said.
Smith also set an NCAA record, for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season, when he caught two balls for 27 yards in the first quarter. He finished with four catches for 55 yards.