LARAMIE, Wyo. Not long after pounding Wyoming into submission, 35-10, and seizing at least a piece of the Mountain West Conference championship, BYU held a brief celebration in the locker room at War Memorial Stadium.
"It was like five seconds," said linebacker Bryan Kehl.
The Cougars (8-2 overall, 6-0 in MWC play) know there is unfinished business awaiting them next week when they host Utah including an outright championship.
"The BYU Cougars just won half the trophy, but there's not a guy in that locker room who wants half a trophy," Kehl said. "We have a whole trophy to win, and we have two more games. We're going to get it done ... What are we, 8-2? That's great. I can't wait to be 9-2.
I can't wait to be 10-2."
With the victory, BYU also secured its 14th consecutive MWC win.
"Having a share of (the title) is OK. But that's not our goal," said linebacker Kelly Poppinga. "Our goal is to be outright conference champions. To do that, we're going to have to come out and play a great game (against Utah). That's our next biggest game."
Yes, BYU survived the trip to Wyoming as well as a scare late in the third quarter when quarterback Max Hall went into the locker room with what was later diagnosed as a slight shoulder separation. Trainers taped up Hall's shoulder, and he returned during the Cougars' next series.
On his first play after returning to the field, Hall completed a 43-yard pass over the middle to Harvey Unga, and Cougar Nation collectively exhaled a sigh of relief. BYU ended up scoring its final touchdown of the day on that drive.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hall was put back into the game "just to make sure everyone, including himself, knew that it was OK and to let him work through it a little bit."
Hall was happy with the way the offense performed overall.
"We played well. Our offense was methodical today," said Hall, who completed 26 of 37 passes for 331 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. "We executed and moved the ball down the field. Wyoming's a good football team. It was a good win for us. This is a tough place to play."
But the Cougars made it look relatively easy.
"We knew the conference championship depended upon (Saturday's game)," Hall said. "We definitely didn't overlook it. We're just happy with the outcome."
"They came into a difficult environment and remained steady and consistent," Mendenhall said of his players. "That's what I'm most pleased with. We gained momentum again. It was just a solid performance. This team has earned a share of the conference championship, and I'm proud of them for that."
The Cougars gained 497 yards of total offense against a Cowboy offense that, entering the week, was ranked No. 14 in the nation in total defense, yielding 309 yards per game. BYU passed for 362 yards and gained 135 on the ground, including 110 by Unga. Wide receiver Austin Collie hauled in a game-high eight catches for 108 yards.
"I think (offensive) balance is becoming more and more who we are with the ball distributed outside to the tight ends and to the backs out of the backfield and the run game," Mendenhall said. "When our offense works best, that's what it is. It's multiple weapons to defend and having to defend the field."
BYU scored 21 first-half points but could have had more as Wyoming blocked a pair of Mitch Payne field goals. After the Cougars took an early 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game on a 2-yard run by Unga, who finished with a pair of TDs, they marched down to the Wyoming 25 but failed to convert on a fourth-and-two. The Cougars had their first field-goal attempt blocked, but they atoned for that on their next possession, driving 90 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Matt Allen to give them a 14-0 advantage in the second quarter.
A fumble by Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween gave BYU the ball back and the Cougars cashed in on that turnover with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Dennis Pitta.
The Cowboys finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Billy Vinnedge and later added a touchdown on a 2-yard run by Wynel Seldon.
BYU increased its lead with a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter before adding another TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Now that the Wyoming game is in the books, the Cougars can start preparing for Utah.Let rivalry week begin.
Momentum Both teams have won seven straight games. Utah's last loss was against UNLV on Sept. 22, while the Cougars last tasted defeat at Tulsa on Sept. 15.
Motivation Adding to the fact that it's a rivalry, BYU is playing for an outright conference championship. Utah, with a victory, can still hold out hope for a share of the MWC crown.
Something has to give The Utes have won six of the past seven games played in Provo, while the Cougars have a 14-game win streak against conference opponents.
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