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Courtesy BYU Photo
BYU receiver Jonah Trinnaman looks to avoid a Fresno State defender during the Cougars' game against the Bulldogs Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Fresno, California.

BYU's slim postseason hopes came to an official end Saturday when Fresno State defeated the Cougars 20-13.

In most other recent years, a game like this would have been the biggest crushing defeat for the Cougars. This loss isn't even in the top five of the worst losses of 2017. That's how bad this season has gone.

This game wasn't about total domination like BYU suffered against teams like LSU, Wisconsin or Mississippi State. Instead, it was about the Cougars' complete inability to make the big play on offense or defense to get the win.

Here's a breakdown of BYU's grades in its loss to Fresno State:


It seemed like Tanner Mangum, Squally Canada and the BYU offense was building off last week's win for a while in this one. Canada had his best game of the season with 84 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, while Mangum was doing fairly well. Matt Bushman got a lot of work done with nine catches for 97 yards.

Then Mangum went down on a noncontact injury that ended his night.

We saw Beau Hoge for the first time since his concussion, but he's clearly not back to full health as he limped along and completed just three of his 10 passing attempts. BYU's wide receivers didn't do either quarterback any favors with drop after drop.

The offense didn't utterly fail in this game like it had several times over the course of this horrible season, but it still wasn't good enough to get the win. The Cougars get credit for Canada and Bushman's big plays, but there's little else to hang their hat on.

Grade: D+


The BYU defense held firm for much of the night but couldn't keep the Bulldogs from scoring touchdowns on two key drives. The first one, the Cougars gave up a 35-yard pass to set up a touchdown, and the second one, BYU got torched for a 50-yard gain through the air. That second one hurt as the offense had just tied the game and the Cougars had some momentum.

Once again, the pass rush continues to be a big problem for the Cougars. While Sione Takitaki made some good plays and even tackles for loss, BYU didn't record a sack or force a turnover in this game.

Grade: C-

Special teams

Rhett Almond surprised pretty much everybody as he hit a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. His previous career long before this game was from 38 yards out, and he's missed some well inside 40 yards this year. That's the longest field goal make for the Cougars since 2011.

Jonny Linehan and the BYU kickoff and punt coverage teams did a solid job, but the Cougars continue to struggle to get anything positive in the return game. The return game is what keeps special teams out of the A range in this one.

Grade: B


This isn't the worst game BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer has called this season, but there was still a head-scratcher or two. The big one was to have Hoge roll out of the pocket on fourth-and-1 late in the game instead of handing the ball off to Canada, particularly given Hoge's struggles to throw the ball in the game.

At least BYU put up a fight, but the Cougars remain fundamentally broken as they limp along with only two wins on the season. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake has some difficult decisions ahead of him as he tries to turn this disaster of a season into something positive.

Grade: C-


Fresno State isn't a bad team by any means as the Bulldogs just punched their ticket to the postseason. BYU is. While there were glimpses of good play here and there, the injury bug along with costly lapses on offense and defense put the win out of reach for this team.

The last hope of a bowl game is now officially gone. We'll have to see how this team limps toward the finish line of the worst season in decades.

Grade: C-

Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.