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October 17, 2008

College Football: The Crucible

During the three years leading up to my departure for Chile, BYU's football team looked like it would challenge Utah State for the worst program in the nation. After going 28 years without a losing season, the Cougs went 5-7, 4-8, and 5-6 from 2002 to 2004. Breath had to be held when playing awful teams such as New Mexico and Wyoming. UNLV, a team BYU had lost to once in 12 games, beat the Cougars twice in a three year span, both times in the once untouchable home field of LaVell Edwards Stadium. In one of those losses BYU fumbled six times.Six times!?! At home? To UNLV? Hard to believe, but it really happened.

Then there were the debacles against Utah. Four straight years the Utes proudly wore the rivalry crown. A 3-0 victory for Utah in 2002 was the lowlight. And forget about close games. The Cougs couldn't pull off a close one for any reason. From 2002 to the beginning of 2006, the Cougs lost 10 games by 4 points or fewer.

Then, on September 28, 2006, something changed for the BYU football team. They were to play #15 TCU on the road in a game they had no business winning. BYU hadn't beaten a ranked team on the road in nine years, and with TCU having held offensive power Texas Tech to just three points the week before, things looked grim for the Y.

I lived in Chile when this game was played, so I can't detail what exactly happened. I've seen the highlights though, I've read the papers, and this much I can tell you: the BYU football program began its return to glory that night. Riding John Beck's passing prowess and Cam Jensen's defensive intensity, the Cougs beat TCU, 31-17, and it wasn't even as close as that score might indicate. In just one game, BYU collectively buried four years of frustration, failure,and self-doubt and began the return to dominance.

What a difference one game can make.

Since that day, BYU won back-to-back conference championships,won back-to-back bowl games, won 18 conference games in a row, ascended to a top-ten ranking, and led the nation with 16 straight wins. BYU was rolling.

Until last night.

Embarassed, walloped, out-played, sacked,run over -- you could use any of these words to describe what TCU did to the Cougs last night. BYU hadn't been beaten that bad since 2005.
And now?

15 million dollars. Gone.
National respect. Gone.
Mountain West Championship. Gone.
16-game winning streak. Gone.
National title hopes. Gone.

What a difference one game can make.

1 comment:

  1. Blah blah blah: football. Blah blah blah: I am spencer. Blah blah blah: I like girls.

    I see what this blog is about... and I like it.