The electricity was there and so was the intensity. But at the end of the day, the BYU Cougars offense could not overcome the Utah defense as well as their own mistakes as they dropped their ninth straight game to their rivals in the series. This ties the longest streak by either program set by the Utes in 1937 and then matched by BYU in 1987.
But to me, this was pretty much what I expected. Zack Wilson coming in had nine months worth of momentum, but he had to go up against a Whittingham-coached team that nine months to prepare too.
In the end some Cougar fans will say that the game was closer than the score. As an unattached observer, I felt it was the opposite. There were no fewer than two other dropped interceptions by the Utah defense and the BYU receivers struggled to create separation on their routes all game long. The Utes receivers dropped at least two passes in the first half which is saying something when Tyler Huntley only had three total incompletions. To borrow something my co-worker, Duke Dance, said “once Utah stopped making mistakes, the game was over.”
It was an almost businesslike outing for Kyle Whittingham who methodically squeezed the life out of Lavell Edwards Stadium over the period of three quarters.
The biggest thing to me is all about the guys in the trenches. It used to be a common occurrence for BYU to send offensive linemen to the NFL. From 1985 to 1998 the Cougars had nine offensive linemen drafted into the league. In the last nine seasons they’ve had two. This was evident all evening long as the Utes bullied the Cougar line and put pressure on Wilson who finished the day with 208 yards passing on 21 completions. The two interception returns for touchdowns is practically impossible to overcome, but add in the third turnover which ended in a Zack Moss touchdown four plays later and it was a dominant performance by the Utes. Moss was the best player on the field and finished with 187 yards on 29 carries.
BYU’s best weapon to me continues to be Matt Bushman who looks like a five-year NFL pro still playing collegiate football. I think he will make some pro team very happy someday, but he needs some help
Perhaps the top thing that was won with the victory was momentum. Utah will now travel back to Salt Lake City to host Northern Illinois while the Cougars now have to make a cross-country trek to Neyland Stadium and over 107,000 Tennessee Volunteer fans. Never an easy trip even under the best of circumstances.
But for now, the streak is nine and BYU has no time to lament that fact if they want to avoid an 0-2 hole with home games against USC and #13 Washington coming up fast.
Dahl Erickson is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster with SVI Media. Twitter: @DahlErickson and on Instagram @ SportsLlama