The 2011 BYU football season was one of highs and lows. After the team started out a little rocky, an air of uncertainty lingered over the campus as the Cougars began their run at independence.
As the season kicked off with a nail-biting win against Ole Miss, many fans felt that a shot at a BCS bowl game could well be within grasp. Unfortunately, BYU’s one-point loss against the Texas Longhorns sent the team into a downward spiral, culminating in the crippling defeat against in-state rival Utah.
From crushing defeats to quarterback blunders, things weren’t looking too good for the first year of independence, yet there was still hope. That hope came in the form of quarterback Riley Nelson. Down two touchdowns and what seemed like another loss mounting for the Cougars following a 2-2 record to begin the season, Nelson entered the game against Utah State with a little more than two minutes left in the game. Nelson charged down the field, completing four of his five passes. With 11 seconds left, Nelson threw a pass that was deflected and landed in the hands of tight end Marcus Mathews to put the Cougars up three points and ultimately sealed the victory.
“This was a great morale boost for all!” said Emily Nevers, a junior majoring in communication disorders. BYU went on to win nine of its final 10 games to end the season.
Nevers worked in the stadium during most games and said she could feel the atmosphere in the stadium change during the final seconds of this game — one of the best games all season.
The Utah State win, along with many other games, helped prove to be a notable season for the Cougars. Even with a 10-3 record and an impressive Armed Forces Bowl win, some still felt that the season lacked a sense of anticipation.
“The season looked promising, but I don’t think it turned out the way we all had hoped,” says Adam Tekurio, a senior majoring in business finance. “It was hard to get excited about the rest of the season knowing once you lost a game your BCS bowl eligibility went out the window.”
Nevertheless, the Cougars posted impressive stats and gave a little taste of what to look forward to next season.
“It was great to see some stars show up like Cody Hoffman and Michael Alisa,” said Jonathan Osorio, a senior from Austin, Texas. In regard to next season, he said, “I think we will either match our record from this season if not improve on it.”
Even if the first season of independence wasn’t what everyone expected, it still proved to be a memorable season of football.