PROVO It looked for a few minutes like a real gut-gripper, and then it didn't. BYU scored twice in the final six minutes of the first half, and suddenly the Wyoming Cowboys were as dead as the lunar exploration program.
The game ended with the score BYU 44, Wyoming nada.
Isn't there some point you tell your Rottweilers to stand down? Isn't there a place where you start feeling sorry for the other guy?
BYU says yes, and proved as much by putting in the second- and third-string quarterbacks.
I say don't look back, because somebody Boise State or Utah, for instance might be gaining on you.
What, you think this is about fairness?
In that case, someone should kill off the BCS.
For the second straight week, BYU shut out its opponent. But instead of prestigious UCLA, this week it was plain old Wyoming, the Cougars' tackling dummy all these years. The 'Pokes haven't won in Provo since giant lizards or at least Ozzy Osbourne ruled the earth.
Not that anyone expected Wyoming to win. The Cowboys struggled just to beat low-budget Ohio and North Dakota State, then got drubbed by Air Force. Their last victory in Provo was in 1987.
Hence, the Cougars made it two monster wins in a row. Last week it was a 59-0 victory over UCLA on semi-national TV. Now this, for a combined score of 103-0. That shouldn't be a two-game football total, it should be a zip code.
"I appreciate the coaches calling off the dogs," said Wyoming coach Joe Glenn.
Yet the sad truth is, BYU would be justified in going for obscene scores. When you're from the Mountain West, you need to do these things. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That way, when some AP voter in Greenville looks up the scores before casting his vote, he says, "Wow. They're winning by 50 points. Must be good. I think I'll move 'em up a couple of spots."
A 10-7 score simply won't suffice.
That's the problem with this BCS baloney. It's still arbitrary and subjective. Since the Mountain West Conference doesn't have an automatic BCS bowl berth, its teams must draw attention by whatever means possible. That includes beating everyone into puree.
Hence, when Utah became the first team to crash the BCS party in 2004, the Utes won their regular-season games by an average of 26 points. They scored over 40 points nine times, over 50 points four times.
They moved steadily up the polls until the BCS couldn't ignore them.
Likewise, BYU jumped four spots in the AP poll this week, largely on the merits of a 59-point win over UCLA.
Win big, especially against famous teams, and you look better and move up faster. East Carolina was ahead of BYU in the polls, going into the Sept. 13 games. But the Pirates eked by Tulane, 28-24, and BYU routed UCLA, allowing the Cougars to leap-frog from No. 18 to No. 14, while ECU fell from 14 to 15.
Thus, the Cougars are on the inside track among non-BCS teams for a money bowl. ECU's loss to North Carolina State may have eliminated the Pirates, and Fresno State short-circuited its plans with an early loss to Wisconsin. But Boise State beat Oregon and Utah edged Air Force, to keep them in the race.
Meanwhile, the Cougars continue taking names and accumulating points. They eased off with 4:03 left in the third quarter by inserting Brenden Gaskins at quarterback for Max Hall. They even called on third-stringer Kurt McEuen with 7:35 remaining.
It was a nice, civilized gesture.
Good thing for the Cougars they already had a bodacious lead ...
Asked if winning big was important in the BCS picture, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall had a quick answer: He won't be piling on.
"I think that notoriety comes in a lot of different ways, and certainly that is one way to do it," he said. "My goal is to keep consistency by really honoring the game and we intend to do it with class and integrity and give all the younger players a chance to play ... and if that's at the expense of the bowls and rankings, then it's at that expense."
Still, Mendenhall should remember that points do matter. I voted on the AP poll for several years, and sometimes a score is all you have time to check.
As the saying goes, all is fair in love and war.And, of course, BCS maneuvering.