While the Cougars rested up Saturday because of their bye week, players and coaches had more opportunity than usual to take a good look at what is happening around the country in college football. At 5-4, BYU has certainly endured some bitter defeats this year. But the Cougars dominated from start to finish over Georgia Tech just a few weeks ago and earlier this year notched another quality win against Utah State, which has now improved to 7-2.
So, how are BYU’s opponents faring so far this season? A quick rundown allows us to look a little deeper into the Cougars’ 2012 performance:
Washington State (Lost to BYU, 30-6)
Mike Leach’s Cougars’ have officially seen their season crumble to dust. Their 49-7 whipping at the hands of the Utes on Saturday dropped them to 2-7 and mathematically eliminated them from bowl eligibility. Besides the rough transition that the Cougars are enduring on the field in Leach’s first year, the team has also seen some swirling controversy brewing between the coach and the team’s star players. Marquees Wilson, the team’s leading receiver, walked out of practice one day after the Utah loss. The situation has become so blatant, Tom Hager of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News writes, that the junior may have “put his future on the Washington State Cougars football team, and certainly his future for the upcoming game, in serious peril.”
Weber State (Lost to BYU 45-13)
The Wildcats are also debuting a new coach this season, and wins have been hard to come by. Weber State notched its only win of the year against Southern Utah two weeks ago, but put up a valiant effort against traditional FCS powerhouse Montana State on Saturday before succumbing, 24-21.
Utah (Defeated BYU 24-21)
The Utes, left for dead in the Pac 12 Conference just two weeks ago, have officially put together their first winning streak of the season, but at 4-5 will still need two more wins to reach a bowl game. In back to back weeks, the Utes put up seven touchdowns, defeating California 49-27 and destroying Washington State 49-6. “The Utes are making another late charge,” writes ESPN’s Ted Miller, noting that Utah will likely need to go 1-1 against Washington and Arizona and then take care of business against lowly Colorado.
Boise State (Defeated BYU 7-6)
Since their undefeated 2009 season, the Broncos have been knocking again on the door of the BCS for the last three seasons, only to fall barely short. The Broncos had lost to Michigan State in the first week of the season, but due to a weak Big 10 Conference this year, the team has been holding out hope for an at-large BCS Berth until losing to San Diego State this Saturday, 21-19. It was another heartbreaking loss for the “36,084 Boise State fans [that] left Bronco stadium feeling numb,” writes Lucio Prado of the Arbiter Online.
Hawaii (Lost to BYU, 47-0)
The Rainbow Warriors are having a remarkable season, but for all the wrong reasons. Only five years after making an appearance in a BCS Bowl, Hawaii’s only victory this season came against FCS foe Lamar. Hawaii’s latest shellacking came Saturday at the hands of Fresno State, 45-10. Luke Shaffer of The Collegian put it simply: “Fresno State out-muscled and outscored Hawaii.”
Utah State (Lost to BYU, 6-3)
Who could have foreseen the day that the Aggies represented BYU’s best victory of the season? But that’s the reality in 2012, a season in which Utah State has torn through their soft WAC schedule to a 7-2 record. The Aggies’ two losses, to Wisconsin and BYU, are by a combined five points. Senior defensive back Will Davis was recently named WAC Defensive Player of the Week after recording “five tackles, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry against Texas State, to go along with his third interception in as many weeks in the Bobcats end zone on their first drive of the game,” reports Utah State Athletics.
Oregon State (Defeated BYU, 42-24)
Since defeating BYU in Provo, the Beavers have since fallen out of the top-10 after a surprising loss to Washington on October 27, but bounced back nicely with a victory over Arizona State on Saturday. “There was much to like about Oregon State’s 36-26 victory Saturday against Arizona State, and the game film verified that assessment according to coach Mike Riley,” writes Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal. The Beavers have their toughest tests remaining, however, against 14th ranked Stanford and 2nd ranked Oregon.
Notre Dame (Defeated BYU, 17-14)
The Cougars’ close loss to the Fighting Irish looked especially impressive after Notre Dame pulled away from Oklahoma on the road the next week. But Notre Dame followed up that performance with a scare against heavy underdog Pitt, beating the Panthers in triple overtime thanks to the mercy of a missed field goal. Still, the Fighting Irish are undefeated and remain in the chase for a national championship, along with fellow unbeatens Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State. With their three competitors looking unbeatable, “time is running low for Notre Dame to make its own breaks and make any kind of statement in the current BCS beauty pageant,” writes Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune.
Georgia Tech (Lost to BYU, 41-17)
The Cougars certainly caught Georgia Tech on a down year; the Yellow Jackets even fired their defensive coordinator Al Groh earlier this season. The team bounced back from a 41-17 loss to the Cougars, though, by shutting down Maryland 33-13 on Saturday. “I tell people all the time, there’s no magical defense that you can run,” Groh’s replacement, Charles Kelly, told the Washington Post recently. “We tried to simplify things, make sure people are where they’re supposed to be, and if they can do that, they can play.” The Yellow Jackets need to win two of their last three games in order to qualify for a bowl game.