Monday, November 29, 2010

Your 2010 Pick 'em Champion

After a grueling season of picks, upsets, disappointment and triumph, we are ready to crown a new champion of Adam's Sports Blog Pick 'em.

Congratulations to...

Cade Taylor!

Because of his thrilling come-from-behind victory, Cade will now win a brand new BYU t-shirt courtesy of Adam's Sports Blog. And maybe a lunch at Burgers Supreme. Depends on if my company gets their Christmas bonus situation figured out.

Way to go, Cade. Your courage in the face of adversity has made you a hero in my eyes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lucky suckers: Utah pick 'em scores

I just have to keep my eyes open. As long as I do that I'm fine.

The minute I close my eyes I see that blocked field goal... the one that kept us from beating Utah. The one that gave the Utes an undeserved win.

So I'll be staying awake for a little while.

In the meantime, I must admit: I was excited to see this week's scoreboard. I knew this week would determine the winner, and I couldn't wait to see what happened. Could the defending champion Ross hold off the surging Cade? Who would have the guts to pick the Utes? Could I make a miraculous comeback?

See for yourselves: Here are this week's scores:

Name Total Score
Andrew T. 29
Matt O. 22
Benjy R. 20
Cade T. 20
Andy O. 10
Craig C. 10
Jeris H. 10
Kenny K. 10
Mike K. 10
Justin L. 8
Russ O. 8
Fabian L. 7
Adam O. 6
Ross M. 6
Seth S. 6
Trevor W. 4
Lesley W. 3
Spencer C. 3
Travis A. 3
Chris W. 0
Eliot B. 0
Evan C. 0
Jeff J. 0
Russ N. 0
Spencer V. 0

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Me and the rivalry

I love the BYU/Utah rivalry. It's the flambe on the Baked Alaska that is the College Football season.

Since I've been a BYU fan my whole life, I've got a lot of memories of the Holy War. Some are good, some not so good. And if you don't mind, I'd like to reminisce for a little bit.

1996: This was the year of my conversion. I'd always been pro-BYU, but in 1996 I became a Cougar fanatic. When BYU played Utah in '96, we were ranked No. 8 in the country. We were led by Steve Sarkisian and Shay Muirbrook. This is my favorite BYU team ever, and we ran over, around and through Utah as I watched from home in my PJs.

1998: An eighth grader, I was dragged to the Provo Towne Centre to do some shopping with my mom. I knew the game was on so I grabbed a seat in the food court and watched with delight when Utah kicker Ryan Kaneshiro doinked the would-be winning field goal off the uprights to seal a 26-24 BYU victory.

2001: My senior year of high school and the night of the "Bargain Ball" dance. My date, Hannah Porter, took me to the BYU/Utah game before the dance, and I suffered in agony until Luke Staley turned on his afterburners for the famous "Gallop down the sideline," one of the most electrifying football plays I've ever seen in my life. I remember vividly Utah marching down the field for one last attempt, but then Jernaro Gilford intercepted a Utah pass and sealed the win. And we danced the night away.

2002: I was in the MTC this time and I found it odd that no one even mentioned the game. Turns out BYU lost.

2003: Just over the hump on my mission, I was living and serving in Brunswick, Maine. My companion was a huge Ute fan, of course, and we were both on pins and needles all day wondering who won. When we got back my companion called a sports score line and his voice rang loud and clear: Utah: 3, BYU: 0.

2004: I had just returned from serving my mission when a good friend of mine, Brett, picked me up to go watch the BYU/Utah game at Legends Grille on BYU campus. I didn't know a lot about BYU or Utah that year, only that Utah was undefeated. It wasn't pretty. BYU got blown out, but I did get my first glimpse of Austin Collie. I've had a crush on him ever since.

2005: Me and my college buddies, the Cougar Crazies, were in the south end zone cheering our guts out. BYU dug themselves a huge hole in the first half, but then tied it up in the second. On their way to a game-winning field goal, BYU just needed one more catch to put them in FG range. On fourth down John Beck fired it to Jonny Harline running across the middle, a catch he usually makes in his sleep. The pass was a little behind Harline and he dropped it. The game goes to Overtime where Utah scores and BYU doesn't. And it all happened right in front of our faces.

2006: A few members of my family and I decided to make the trip up to Rice Eccles for, if you can believe it, my first visit. I was totally in awe. The Utah crowd was pretty awesome. I remember flags waving, fans screaming and an electric atmosphere. It was another close game ending, of course, with a miracle TD throw to Jonny Harline as the clock ran out. In that moment, when Harline caught the winning TD, the world stopped. Everything was completely silent for a split second. Then when he stood up with his arms in the air the world erupted. It was as if a ray of pure joy fell upon me, and I'll never forget how sweet that moment was. After the game we started back to our car and some Ute fans were actually fighting with each other. I laughed at that. Others gave us their best and wished us good luck for the bowl game, which I thought was pretty classy.

2007: Hopeless and defeated after a long Utah drive that ate up most of the clock and put the Utes in the lead, I was barely watching as BYU faced a fourth and 18 situation. But then the ball sailed down field into the arms of a waiting Austin Collie. Immediately the crowd convulsed into a giant dogpile with me at the bottom. It was so sweet. Again, pure joy. I rushed the field and applauded Austin Collie's "Magic Happens" quote.

2008: Again, I made the trip up north to Rice-Eccles Stadium to watch the game in person. Bad idea. This was a different atmosphere than 2006. Utah fans were nasty from the get-go. From the walk up to the stadium (where one Utah fan said "F--- You" and "God hates you" to me repeatedly), to the walk back to our car (in which we were showered with garbage and more verbal abuses), the whole night was miserable. One person in our group was even accosted in the bathroom. I mean come on guys, you don't mess with another man in the bathroom. That's guy code. Anyway, the game was horrible, but the atmosphere was the reason why I'm not going back this year.

2009: My first rivalry game as a non-student. My seats were (and are) up in the North endzone, so it was difficult to rush the field. But you better believe I did anyway. After Max Hall's magnificent TD throw and George's sprint to the goal line? Who wouldn't?

Like I said in an earlier post, I love this rivalry. I hope we see many more amazing games.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My favorite rivalry week joke

Earlier this year, Kyle Whittingham made a trip to Provo to knock heads with some BYU coaches and see just how BYU has maintained so much success over the years.

He watched practice, talked to players, watched film but couldn't quite figure it out. Finally, he approached Bronco Mendenhall and asked, "Bronco, what's your secret?"

Bronco called Jake Heaps over and said, "Jake, got a little riddle for you. Who is your father's brother's nephew?"

Heaps answered without hesitation "Easy coach, that's me!"

"That's the secret," Mendenhall said, turning to Whittingham. "Smart quarterbacks."

Kyle thought about this the whole way home. The next day when he was watching his own team practice he called Jordan Wynn over.

"Hey Jordan," he said, "Who is your father's brother's nephew?"

Wynn scratched his head. "Uh... let me get back to you, coach."

Wynn ran over to the Ute running back, Eddie Wide. "Eddie, you gotta help me man. I think coach is trying to test me!" and he repeated the question.

"That's easy," Wide said, "It's me!"

Wynn looked pleased. He sprinted over to Coach Whittingham and breathlessly shouted, "Coach! I've got the answer to your riddle!"

"Okay," said Whitt, "Who is your father's brother's nephew?"

"It's Eddie Wide!"

"You idiot!" said Whitt. "It's not Eddie Wide. It's Jake Heaps!"

Alex Smith hates me

You guys are going to have to help me out. I wasn't around for the rivalry in 2004, but I've always been curious about something.

Did BYU fans make "Alex Smith Hates Me" t-shirts?

You know, after Alex went off on BYU in an ESPN interview. Did BYU fans just go berserk with rage after he said he hates us? And when he called us "arrogant"?

What about when Morgan Scalley, Ute safety, said, referring to BYU "I hate those pricks. I hate 'em with a passion"? Did we flood the radio stations with calls? Did we adequately express our outrage?

I wasn't here, so I don't know.

Did the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune write articles about sportsmanship and the lack of civility in the rivalry after Alex and Morgan went on their hate-filled tirades?

If you guys could let me know, that'd be awesome.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Conflicted

Every year at about this time I am just amazed at how fast the college football season went by.

It's rivalry week again, which means it's the last game of the season again, which means another year has slipped away like a thief in the night. Again.

This year is a little different, though. Whereas I would normally be frothing at the mouth and ripping on Utah every chance I get during Rivalry Week, this year I find myself a bit reserved. And conflicted.

The rivalry has reached new heights of nastiness, in my opinion. Last year it all came to a head when Max Hall went off on the Utes in his post game interview. But that wouldn't have happened if Ute fans wouldn't have acted like complete low-class losers the year before. There is bad behavior on both sides.

This year players, fans and coaches on both sides are calling for more civility in the rivalry. Bronco Mendhenhall especially, as noted in his weekly press conference. I agree with this feeling. The rivalry is getting too bitter, and I want to distance myself from the front lines of the battle.

The problem I face, though, is how do I maintain my passion for BYU, and the spirit of the rivalry, without associating myself with the extremists on both sides?

Let's get one thing straight: Rivalries are good. They are part of the sport, and they are part of what makes college football so great. BYU and Utah have an incredible rivalry--one of the best in the country. I don't want that rivalry to die, but I don't want to end up in a fist-fight with a drunk Ute fan either.

I'm going to try and figure this one out this year. If you guys have any ideas for me, please let me know. In the meantime, Go Cougs, and Screw U!

It's Rivalry Week!

Gooooooooooooo Cougars!
Dirty Utes

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blowbos: New Mexico Pick 'em scores

I know our amateur predictions don't actually affect the outcome of the game, but I'd like to take a moment right now to recognize four brave souls who picked a BYU shut-out:

Adam O.
Andy O.
Andrew T.
Jeris H.

You guys saw, as I did, that BYU was due for a defensive stand. Unfortunately some horrible officiating took away that shut out, but I'm proud of you nonetheless.

BYU took care of the dirty, diseased Lobos on Saturday to become bowl eligible for the sixth-straight year.

Now there's only one game left, and it could make a huge difference in the Pick 'em scoreboard.

Here are this week's scores:

Lesley W. 38
Fabian L. 38
Craig C. 37
Ross M. 37
Matt O. 36
Cade T. 35
Russ O. 35
Justin L. 33
Seth S. 33
Jeff J. 33
Trevor W. 33
Tyler B. 32
Travis A. 32
Andy O. 31
Kenny K. 29
Evan C. 27
Russ 27
Eliot B. 26
Chris W. 26
Spencer C. 26
Jeris H. 25
Adam O. 24
Mike K. 23
Andrew T. 23

Friday, November 19, 2010

Behold: The New Mexico Lobos

I first saw these numbers on Greg Wrubell's Cougar Tracks blog, and they bear repeating here.

Just to give you a better idea of who we're playing on Saturday, New Mexico is:

104th in rush offense

98th in pass offense

116th in total offense

115th in scoring offense

120th in rush defense

113th in pass efficiency defense

118th in total defense

119th in scoring defense

102nd in 3rd down conversion percentage

109th in 3rd down conversion percentage defense

103rd in turnover margin

106th in turnovers lost

114th in pass efficiency

117th in sacks

104th in tackles for loss

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The best game in the state (and the good guys won!)

That was a heck of a game, right? I mean... wasn't that just a great game?

I'm talking, of course, about the BYU/Utah State game which the Cougars won, 78-72.

It was such a good game, in fact, that I'm here to write about it just minutes after arriving home. I've got the post-game show on the radio and I'm ready to get right into this thing.

First, I've got to give it up for Utah State. The Aggies bring it every single game, and they are fighters to the very end. They don't give up, they don't get intimidated and they're a team full of scrappy, well-coached players. Not only that, but they are a bad matchup for BYU. Plain and simple. Their post game just rolled over us today.

Utah State is an excellent team, and beating them was huge. It was a really good way to start the season, and I hope Utah State wins every single game from here on out.

Let's talk about some of the game's heroes.

First off, I thought Noah Hartsock was incredible. Especially down the stretch. He played pretty good defense all night against a terrific Aggie low post game, and his contributions at the rim, on the boards and at the free throw line can't be overstated. Once in particular, with less than a minute to play, he chased down an errant shot and batted it back to Jackson Emery preserving a crucial shot clock reset. That won't show up on the stat sheet, but it was one of the biggest plays of the game.

Speaking of Emery, I was really proud of that guy tonight. He had a rough first half, plagued with fouls, but he came out in the second and decided he was going to leave his mark on the game. He hit a quick three, followed by a lay-in, and then a three-point-play in a big stretch to start the second half. He was aggressive and made a big difference for our guys (taking pressure off Jimmer, who was our only real scorer in the first half, for example).

For Utah State, I've got to give credit to Toadstool



Also known as Brian Green.

Who is this smush-faced little guy? Whoever he is, he personally put a plug in every big BYU run with his deadly three point shooting. I can't believe how well he--and all the Aggies--shot from the three point line.

In the "Villains" category, I've got to give that credit to the refs. That officiating was just… plain… AWFUL (I'm sure USU fans feel the same way. Funny how that works, eh?)

Finally, let's hear it for Jimmer. That guy is not human. He got mugged every single time he touched the ball, yet still managed to impose his will and score a game-high 26 points. Jimmer, in the words of a great poet: I'm never gonna give you up.

Great work Cougs! Be safe driving through Sardine Canyon, Ags.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let the boys play


Over the past few seasons, and specifically the last two games, we Cougar fans have seen a lot of backups trot onto the field in the fourth quarter.

It's a luxury. We've earned the right to give our scrubs some playing time with a solid three-quarter beatdown.

I love seeing guys like Jason Beck, Brendan Gaskins, Riley Nelson and now James Lark take the field because it (usually) means we're so far ahead we literally don't care who's under center anymore.

What I don't like is how these backup QBs, RBs and WRs are on a choke-chain leash. All they get in garbage time is runs up the middle and a quick knee in the victory formation. The backup QB might get to throw a quick slant if he's lucky.

The thinking here, of course, is we're so far ahead we just want to speed up the game and not "run up the score." It's generally accepted as a classy move, and it seems to be part of an unspoken code of ethics in the coaching fraternity.

I think it's bogus. As a fan, I want to see these players play the game. I want to see them develop and get some meaningful gametime experience. When James Lark puts his hands inside his center's keester, I want him to be able to come up throwing.

It's not Bronco Mendenhall's responsibility to make sure your team doesn't get their feelings hurt. It's also not his job to make sure you get the ball back when you're down 40. The opponent has to stop us, and if they don't... well tough cookies.

Who here doesn't want to see James Lark wing some balls to B.J. Peterson? Who doesn't get excited at the prospect of David Foote breaking a big run late in the game? Who else is just craving an opportunity to see Ezekial Ansah put the opposing QB on his back?

If I were coach I'd be giving both barrels until the clock reaches double zeroes. I'd put in my backups, sure, but my gameplan won't change a bit. I'd still try to score on every single possession, and I'd never take a knee.

I may not win any sportsmanship awards, but I'd have the best dang backup QB in the country.

James Lark, I'm in your corner, buddy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Top 10 reasons to love last Saturday

Saturday, November 13, was another great day for true sports fans. BYU killed Colorado State, Utah lost to Notre Dame, the Jazz beat the Charlotte Bobcats at the last second to preserve the east-coast sweep, and I got a tasty Chicken Schnitzel at the Red Rock Brewery in Salt Lake City.

Not too shabby.

There haven't been many days like this, so when they come around you've really got to savor them. Here are the top 10 reasons why Saturday was, in a word, Awesome-sauce:

10. Luke Ashworth's 8-yard TD reception to put BYU up on CSU 35-0
9. Andrew Rich's defense: nine tackles, two forced fumbles and one interception
8. Luke Ashworth's 7-yard TD reception to put BYU up on CSU 14-0
7. Deron Williams' last-second, game-winning floater vs. Charlotte
6. Luke Ashworth's 36-yard TD reception to put BYU up on CSU 28-0
5. Jake Heaps' QB efficiency: 242.64. Good for eighth-best performance in BYU history
4. Utah's meltdown in South Bend. Their second loss in a row.
3. Kyle Van Noy's defensive TD (after Corby Eason forced a CSU fumble)
2. Luke Ashworth's 62-yard TD reception to put BYU up on CSU 7-0
1. BYU is booming, Utah is losing and the Jazz just swept the states of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

Saturday sure felt good (again). BYU's win was just a joy to behold. I love watching Heaps play like he's been playing. He looks like he's grown leaps and bounds since the bye week.

Incidentally... I'd love to know what Bronco told his boys during that week off.

You've gotta give it to Luke Ashworth. Everybody's been giving him crap all year for his sucky performance, but he has really stepped it up the past few weeks. He's emerged as Jake Heaps' go-to guy, and he's shown a great knack for catching the ball.

Unbeknownst to most people out there, by the way, is the fact that Ashworth suffered most of the season with a high ankle sprain. It wasn't publicized, but it was there. But he's healthy now and we're all finally seeing how talented this senior from Timpview really can be.

BYU looks formidable right now, folks. We're gathering steam, and I am confident in saying (tongue slightly in-cheek) we are the best five-loss team in the country. Utah State, Nevada and Air Force are lucky they got us in the middle of our "black" period.

Seriously. Gary Anderson should be writing weekly Thank You letters to former D-coordinator Jaime Hill.

Anyway, bring on the Lobos. I'm ready to go bowling.

On a roll: CSU Pick 'em scores

BYU's offense has certainly turned a corner, it seems. After the two consecutive week's of 49+ points, this season has cemented itself as the hardest season ever for ASB pickers.

My hat's off to you guys for doing your darndest to traverse these rough waters.

This week's big winner is Spencer C., who had the gumption to take a leap of faith on BYU's offense, while staying true to the stout defense.

Good work Spencer.

Here are this week's scores:

Spencer C. 33
Fabian L. 30
Seth S. 30
Evan C. 30
Justin L. 28
Eliot B. 27
Kenny K. 27
Russ N. 26
Travis A. 26
Matt O. 23
Ross M. 23
Jeris H. 23
Cade T. 23
Trevor W. 23
Lesley W. 23
Andy O. 23
Benjy R. 22
Russ O. 22
Mike K. 20
Tyler B. 20
Adam O. 20
Craig C. 20
Andrew T. 20
Spencer V. 20

Next week: BYU plays one of the worst teams in FBS football: The New Mexico Lobos. Send me your scores as soon as they are revealed to you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I remember Steve Cleveland

Steve Cleveland, the former head coach of the BYU men’s basketball team, was in many ways the savior of a program in shambles.

When Cleveland took over head coaching duties in 1997, he inherited a BYU team that just put the finishing touches on a 1-25 season. Yes, one win (against Utah State. I wonder how the Aggies felt about that one.). The coaching position was in total turmoil, as Roger Reid gave way to interim coach Tony Ingle, and nothing was ever totally settled.

I remember that 1-25 season well. It was totally embarrassing. I was just a Junior High kid at the time, but I remember I didn’t even want to admit I was a BYU fan (forgive me—I was much younger and weaker then). When Steve Cleveland came aboard we Cougar fans were looking for some answers.

In his first season, Cleveland upped the win count by 900% (9-21). The next season the win count jumped up to 12, then 22, then 24. Each season got a little better than the last, and soon we were winning conference championships and making postseason appearances. He rebuilt the program in every sense of the word.

Under Cleveland played some of my favorite BYU Hoops stars: Mikeli Wesley, Eric Nielsen, Matt Montague, Mark Bigelow and of course Travis Hansen. He even brought in guys you might remember a little better: Mike Hall, Keena Young, Trent Plaisted and even Jackson Emery.

I never got to see the great Rafael Araujo because I was on my mission at the time. I wish I could have seen those 2003-2004 teams, though. It sounded like they were a lot of fun to watch.

I also remember guys like Terrell Lyday and Ron Selleaze who played under Cleveland. These were athletes the kind BYU rarely ever gets. They were fun to watch (during the brief period they actually played). Lyday was a JC transfer who only played two years at BYU, and Selleaze had one good season before he… left the team.

One of the best and most exciting games I can ever remember watching in the Marriot Center came during Cleveland’s tenure. It was in 2002 when Utah came to visit. BYU was down 21 in the second half to the Utes, and we went on a 24-5 tear before Eric Nielsen hit the eventual game-winner with 20 seconds left to play. I can’t remember the Marriott Center being any louder and crazier than it was that day.

Cleveland’s teams were always fun to watch. They featured athleticism on the wings and a big powerful force in the middle. They were a little less consistent than what we’re used to now, but no one can overestimate the good influence Steve Cleveland had on our program.

His decision to leave BYU after the 2004-2005 season, then, came as a shock to BYU fans. Even though the 2004-2005 season was less than impressive, Cleveland was secure in his situation at BYU. He wanted to coach Fresno State, however, and decided to bid farewell to Provo.

Tom Holmoe then hired a plucky assistant named Dave Rose, and the rest is history.

But I remember Steve, and he did a great job with a BYU program that had hit rock bottom. He deserves a warm welcome when he returns to the Marriot Center tonight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bronco Mendenhall: A great coach who made a big mistake

The 2010 football season is turning out to be one of the most interesting seasons I can ever remember.

BYU has seen it all this season: A top 25 ranking, a horrible downturn, the ultimate rock bottom, and then a turnaround that might just send us to a bowl game for Christmas.

It all, in my opinion, hinged around the firing of Jaime Hill.

I liked Hill when he was brought aboard the good ship BYU. I thought he did a great job with our defensive backs in 2006. In 2007 Hill was named Defensive Coordinator, but Bronco retained playcalling duties. In 2008 Bronco let Hill call plays and then earlier this year Hill was fired.

Since the firing, BYU's defense has totally changed its identity. They stiffened up, particularly against the run, and started playing with fire and enthusiasm. The predictable BYU defense that lost us four straight games was gone, and now BYU's defense is the unquestioned strength of the team.

(Incidentally, I would love to press the restart button on this season. With Bronco at the helm, and not Hill, I think we beat Air Force, Utah State and Nevada.)

I love the job Bronco has done with the defense. His hands on approach, and his desire to "recapture the hearts and minds" of his players, has paid huge dividends. Clearly, he is a good coach.

Or is he?

This is the question I'm struggling with right now. It's obvious that Coach Mendenhall has a big impact on his team. In just one week he orchestrated a turnaround that will likely send us to a bowl game. But if Mendenhall is such a good coach, how come he didn't see the downward trend before it was too late? How did he let Jaime Hill ruin the defense in the first place?

I have a buddy, Fabian, who complained publicly about the fact that Mendenhall never spent time in the defensive meetings, and spoke openly about it. He bemoaned how Bronco never really managed his coaches, preferring instead to allow them the freedom to do their thang. He called it a bad strategy.

It turns out Fabian was right all along. Bronco should have had his finger closer to the pulse of BYU football. Mendenhall's goal is to create a solid program from which he could walk away without any missteps. This year proves we haven't quite arrived there just yet. We still need Bronco's careful guidance.

So yes, Bronco is a great coach. We all know that, and we've seen it first-hand this year. But he made a big mistake. He lost touch with his team, and it nearly cost us a season.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

One great day

Remember how awesome last Saturday was?

I'm thinking last Saturday at around 2:00, specifically. At that time BYU was dropping bombs on UNLV, and then the big board flashed the score from the TCU/Utah game.

Plenty of reasons for BYU fans to be happy.

Let's be clear, though: Saturday was awesome first and foremost because BYU won. We finally put together a complete game, and our young players unlocked the magic and figured out how to play football. Jake Heaps looked like the QB of the future, and our receivers were actually catching balls and making plays.

In case you forgot, BYU scored 55 big ones. We didn't even score 55 in 2006 when UNLV came to town. We fared better against UNLV than Utah, TCU and Wisconsin. I'm not saying we compare with those teams, just that we finally put some big time points on the board and it feels freakin' good.

Jake Heaps was brilliant. He looked poised, under control and calm in the pocket. He made some throws that still have me giddy, and he looked like he was having a lot of fun out there. This is a lad with potential, and we got a glimpse of what he can one day become.

It's too bad the defense couldn't hold the shut-out (UNLV scored with 40 seconds left in the game), but you've gotta love the impact Bronco is having on this unit. What a turnaround!

Now let's have a frank and open discussion about the Utah game. The second reason we were so happy on Saturday.

As you know, I picked Utah to win. I picked it not because I wanted it, but because I expected the Utes to come out fired up and prepared for the Horned Frog onslaught.

And to their credit, the Utes were actually in the game... until kickoff. The rest is history, and I've never been happier to be wrong.

I don't want to mock Utah fans (even though I could). What I do want to do is throw this game in the faces of every media member in Utah that labeled this "The biggest game in the history of Utah athletics, and perhaps the human race."

My personal favorite was this story in the Salt Lake Tribune about Utah playing in the Rose Bowl BEFORE they are actually members of the Pac-12. Oh brother.

The No. 5 Utes were sitting on a pedestal which could be seen from space, and they were just ripe for a huge fall. Fall they did. Welcome back to reality guys.

I am happy Utah lost. Newfound, church leadership-inspired brotherhood aside, Utah is BYU's rival. And the fact that they blew this huge game makes me want to write poetry:

GameDay
a haiku

GameDay, blackout Utes
Biggest game in history
Cheers ring from Provo

So now, in the aftermath, I feel great about both BYU and Utah. BYU sees light at the end of the tunnel, Utah is just entering theirs.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Gaining ground: UNLV Pick 'em scores

Saturday was such a great day. And let's get one thing clear: It was great first and foremost because BYU finally played a complete game and blew UNLV out of the water.

Anything that happened in Salt Lake City was just icing on the cake.

As far as this week's scores go, BYU caught every one of us off guard. Even my brother Andy, who picked BYU to score 42, underestimated the potency of BYU's offense on Saturday. I mean really, 55 points? Who could have seen that coming?

Good week though, pickers. Let's use all the positive energy in the universe to keep the ball rolling as we visit Ft. Collins next week.

Here are this week's scores:

Adam O. 27
Chris W. 27
Spencer C. 27
Fabian L. 26
Justin L. 25
Jeff J. 24
Lesley W. 24
Matt O. 24
Mike K. 24
Ross M. 24
Seth S. 24
Travis A. 23
Trevor W. 23
Evan C. 21
Andrew T. 20
Andy O. 20
Benjy R. 20
Cade T. 20
Craig C. 20
Eliot B. 20
Jeris H. 20
Kenny K. 20
Russ N. 20
Spencer V. 20
Tyler B. 20

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The breakout game

We've been waiting for it all season, but will this finally be the week BYU breaks out of its season-long offensive slump?

I've asked the experts, and they all agree: Yes. With gusto.

BYU scores more than 30 this week. Mark it down, slap it on the table and call it an ASB guarantee. Granted, given the history of BYU a 30 point game isn't exactly "breakout," but all things considered it will be a positive sign in the midst of this confusing season.

Our explosive point output will be a function of three phenomena: The bye week, BYU's growing confidence, and the hapless, almost comical efforts of the UNLV Rebels.

First, the bye. Having last week off will prove to be huge for the Cougs. The biggest thing BYU needs right now is reps, and an extra week of practice is just what the doctor ordered. Playmakers are healthier, plays are mastered and the team is hungry.

Second, BYU's confidence is growing. I saw a funny thing when we played Wyoming a couple weeks ago, namely BYU kids making an effort. Our receivers were going after balls and I saw a little fire. I think BYU's confidence is growing and it'll produce dividends on Saturday.

Third, and finally, UNLV is just... awful. They are ranked No. 118 out of 120 in rushing defense. They are No. 99 in total defense. They'll also be playing in Provo where studies have shown they become disoriented by the tall mountains. BYU will run over them, and use the play-action to make some big plays over the top.

BYU is about to collide with a big confidence builder on Saturday. Get ready to take one more important step toward the New Mexico Bowl.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Utah Utes: A charmed team

I'm trying to be temperate in my comments about the Utes these days, so if you're looking for a Utah hate-fest you'll have to look elsewhere.

...or come back here in a couple weeks.

Utah is good this year. Even bordering on great. When it comes to talent, they are locked and loaded yet again. Troy Calhoun, the even-keeled coach of the Air Force Falcons, called this year's Utes the best Utah team ever. It's no wonder they're undefeated and playing like a team which has truly found their sweet spot.

But I'm convinced it's more than just raw talent and good coaching. There's something about these Utes that defies convention. The ball seems to bounce their way (both literally and figuratively) every single time.

That's why I'm convinced they are a charmed team. A team of destiny sent to punish arrogant and prideful BYU fans.

I don't know if they sold their souls to the devil, or if they were just exposed to extra potent gamma rays, but Utah is practically invincible. That's why I'm picking them to upset the TCU Horned Frogs this week. Don't get me wrong, both teams match up well, but Utah is playing at home... and they have super powers.

Here's how the game will play out: It will be a back and forth battle where defense rules. TCU will get some shots in the red zone, but won't be able to convert. Utah will score on one or two long plays, but will ultimately be down four with two minutes left in the game.

That's when lightning will strike.

Jordan Wynn will bark out plays through that thin, blotchy face of his, and he'll work the two minute offense to perfection. They'll slice through TCU like a Domino's Pizza professional. A last-minute TD will win the game, and Utah will celebrate all night long in their hideously ugly black camo unis.



Utah will definitely win, of that I am certain, simply because they cannot lose. They are protected by the football gods. Kyle Whittingham is a fatter, louder King Midas.

As I see it there is only one team in the country that can challenge them: The Boise State Broncos.

I would love, LOVE, to see the Utes play Boise State, the one other charmed team in football. I think if the Utes and Broncos were to play, say, a BCS bowl, the universe would probably explode. Who would lose in that scenario? I have absolutely no idea, and I defy you to predict a winner.

Way to go, Utes. I don't know what backdoor deals you made to get to this point, but I gotta admit: I am jealous of all your success.