Boise State 55, BYU 30
BOISE — BYU began the season with four consecutive wins, including a blowout victory on the road against Big 12 opponent Texas and a top-20 ranking.
How times have changed.
At this point, the reeling Cougars are the equivalent of a lower-tier Mountain West Conference team.
BYU has now lost four consecutive games, and three of those losses have come at the hands of MWC foes, including Friday night’s 55-30 debacle against Boise State before a crowd of 36,752 at Albertsons Stadium.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall attempted to end the losing streak by taking over the defensive play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Nick Howell.
"I take full responsibility for this loss. I didn't have my team prepared," said Mendenhall. "I called every single defensive play and I tried all week to do everything I could to help this team get better, and it wasn't enough."
This marks the Cougars’ first four-game losing streak since the 2010 season, and the first time they have gone winless in the month of October since 1993.
BYU’s offense, defense and special teams produced a few intermittent highlights Friday night, but mostly they committed a bunch of mistakes, gave up a host of big plays, and were totally outplayed.
Boise State (6-2) came out fired up from the outset, never let off the throttle, and crushed the Cougars.
"They came out prepared, had a great game plan and had explosive plays," Mendenhall said. "They played outstanding."
Bronco quarterback Grant Hedrick completed 24-of-31 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns. Boise State racked up more than 637 yards of total offense.
Two years ago here, the two teams combined for one offensive touchdown in a 7-6 win for Boise State. The Bronco offense scored zero points against the Cougar defense in that one.
This game couldn’t have been more different, as Boise State exploded for 31 points in the second quarter.
The Cougars recorded an 81-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Stewart to Idaho native Colby Pearson, also in the second quarter.
Boise State set the tone on the opening drive, marching easily to the BYU 4-yard line before settling for a field goal. Then came a 10-play, 76-yard possession that took 5:34 off the clock that gave the Broncos a 10-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, the Cougars gave Boise State some help, including Mitchell Juergens’ fumbled punt at the BYU 13-yard line that set up another Bronco field goal.
Boise State went ahead 13-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
Even when BYU did something right, something went wrong. Punter Scott Arellano blasted a 76-yard punt that pinned the Broncos deep in their own territory. But two plays later, Hedrick connected with Thomas Sperbeck for a 78-yard touchdown, which was BSU’s longest scoring play of the season.
By then, Boise State led 20-0 with 13:31 left in the second quarter. That’s when BYU coaches put in running back Jamaal Williams, who had been sidelined with an ankle injury for the past couple of weeks. Williams immediately made an impact, scoring the Cougars’ first touchdown of the night on a 17-yard run.
But Boise State responded with a 49-yard gadget-play pass by Hedrick.
On its next play from scrimmage, Stewart connected with Pearson for an 81-yard touchdown pass to cut BYU’s deficit to 27-14.
But the Cougar defense couldn’t stop the Broncos, who ended up scoring again on a 3-yard run by Jay Ajayi to make it 34-16.
After another impressive punt by Arellano, BYU recorded a safety when defensive lineman Logan Taele stopped Ajayi in the end zone.
On its ensuing possession, however, Stewart threw an interception and the Broncos capitalized when Hedrick threw his third TD pass of the half. It was Boise State 41, BYU 16 at intermission.
At that point, Hedrick had completed 16 of 19 passes for 329 yards. As a team, the Broncos had rolled up 429 yards, compared to 198 for the Cougars.
BYU scored its first defensive touchdown of the season early in the third quarter when true freshman linebacker Fred Warner returned a 20-yard interception for a touchdown.
It was one of the Cougars’ few highlights on the night.
BYU visits Middle Tennessee next Saturday.