Monday, December 24, 2007
I don't know about any of you, but I couldn't watch. I sat on the bench of Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, my head in my hands, and I couldn't look up. I couldn't believe that we were going to lose this game. Once again, UCLA was going to take a game away from the team who rightfully deserved to win. All they needed to do was chip in an 18-yard field goal, and their kicker was automatic all day (I wonder what that feels like?)
The snap, the hold, the kick...
The ball hits the big mit of Eathyn Manumaleuna, and dives toward the ground just feet short of the goal post! I decided to look up right at the last second, and I saw every bit of that block. And then I exploded into a joyous ecstasy that still hasn't left me completely. Everyone around me (that is, those who hadn't left already) were crazy with happiness, and Becky and I ran out onto the field to celebrate with our fellow fans and the players.
It was a great ending to a good bowl game.
Chalk that one up as BYU's second bowl win in a row. Do you know when BYU last won two bowl games in a row? '83 and '84 with Steve Young and Robbie Boscoe.
We are in the midst of a new golden age, Cougar fans. BYU is back, and it is better than ever.
A couple of thoughts from the actual bowl game:
Just in case any of you feel like BYU was lucky to win that game, I say to you get thee hence. BYU deserved every single iota of that win. BYU outplayed UCLA every minute of every quarter. BYU's defense dominated UCLA all night, and a one or two big plays did not negate that. Also, it was a BYU player that made the big play. UCLA didn't miss the field goal, BYU blocked it. Manumaleuna summoned all his jumping strenf and put a hand on that ball, and that has nothing to do with luck. That was in our control. BYU won the game, and we deserved the win.
Secondly, whoever was in charge of calling the running play with 19 seconds left in the first half which resulted in a fumble and subsequent Bruin touchdown ought to be severely disciplined. Seriously, that boneheaded call almost lost us the game, and whoever called the play is lucky we still won. For those who didn't see, BYU was on its own 8 yard line and there were 19 seconds left before the half. BYU was up 17-6 at the time, and UCLA would get the ball to begin the second half. Under these circumstances there is only one thing to do: take a knee and let the clock run out. But, the Robert "Einstein" Anae decides to run it. Now, in Anae's defense, running plays are usually solid. But in this instance it was not. Unga fumbled and UCLA scored, and I hope to heck that Anae got an earful for his stupidity.
One more thought I had while watching that game was about Austin Collie. Austin Collie is the best player on the BYU football team end of story. He is incredible. Max Hall could throw every single ball to Austin Collie every game, and I'd be happy. Moreover, I think we'd be successful. Collie is a big time player, and we are lucky to have that guy. I don't know what else I can say about him, other than he is the absolute best. He was making huge catches, he was running right by UCLA's cornerbacks, he was getting open and he was making plays. Collie is the man, and I sure hope he sticks around for the next two years.
When all is said and done, though, just keep telling yourselves that we won the game. It may not have been the blowout we were all expecting, but a win is a win. Give credit to UCLA, because they played inspired defense. They played hard, and they absolutely stuffed our offense for most of the night. In fact, they made Harvey Unga look like a lilly-white schoolboy. But at the end of the night we made the extra play, and we are now the Las Vegas Bowl champions for the second-straight year.
It's a magical thing.