After the smoke cleared, BYU's loss on Saturday at Virginia was even more devastating when the final stats showed that the Cougar defense held the Cavaliers to a mere 223 yards of offense. Realistically, a team should win every game when it holds the opponent to fewer than 300 yards.
Surprisingly, some quick research shows that in the last two seasons, the Cougars have lost twice in each of the seasons even when holding the opposition to fewer than 300 yards.
In the 2011 season, BYU held Mississippi, Texas, Idaho State, TCU, Idaho, New Mexico State, Hawaii and Tulsa to fewer than 300. It was not a shock for most of the games and wins, but it was shocking that holding down the Texas and TCU offenses did not result in wins.
On the flip side, BYU was 4-1 when giving up more than 300 and that loss was a big one to Utah.
In 2012, the contrast was even more clearly defined with such a great and nationally ranked defensive unit anchored by Kyle Van Noy and Ziggy Ansah. When holding the other teams under 300 yards, BYU was 8-2, with wins over Washington State, Weber State, Hawaii, Utah State, Georgia Tech, Idaho, New Mexico State and San Diego State.
Utah and Boise State were also held under the 300 mark but managed to defeat the Cougars. In those two successive weeks, outstanding defensive performances went for naught. On the other hand, the three times the opposing team exceeded 300 yards in a game, BYU came out on the losing end.
All I can say is that the Virginia loss stings, but wins over Texas and TCU in 2011 and over Utah and Boise State in 2012 would have been sweeter than this loss is sour.
Let's hope that the string of great defensive performances continues and the law of averages swings BYU's way. It can't come to soon.
Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the '60s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org