Turns out magic happens only occasionally, not all the time.
Two weeks after scoring its biggest win since becoming an independent in 2011, BYU could not follow it up with another stunner on the road against No. 11 Washington. In dominating fashion, the Huskies crushed the 20th-ranked Cougars 35-7 on Saturday night in Seattle.
“We were on our heels the entire game,” said coach Kalani Sitake.
As great as the Cougars looked in beating then-No. 6 Wisconsin in Madison, they were that bad against Washington. Stretching to find something positive, nothing is there in this game.
Either Wisconsin is not that good or Washington is far superior to the Badgers and BYU. You can choose.
For sure, there is no doubt the Cougars can’t compete with the Huskies. This team, which beat Utah by 14 points the night BYU pulled up its huge upset, put together its best performance of the season to date.
“It really was never close,” Sitake said.
Through five games, the truth is BYU must run the ball to compete. The Cougars are not explosive enough through the air to beat quality competition.
Against an awesome defense, BYU had no chance. The two best running backs – Squally Canada and Lopini Kotoa, combined to run for a total of 40 yards on 15 carries and the Cougars lone touchdown on the night.
Tanner Mangum had decent numbers, completing 18 of 21 passes for 160 yards. But only one completion went downfield for more than 30 yards, a 39-yarder to tight end Matt Bushman.
Not that BYU’s defense was any better. Four-year starting quarterback Jake Browning toyed with the Cougars all night, posting an impressive performance by completing 23 of 25 passes for 277 yards and one touchdown. Browning set a program record for completion percentage in a game with 92% on the night.
Obviously, BYU is not in Washington’s league – either literally or figuratively. The overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12, the Huskies are in contention to make the four-team College Football Playoff.
“They just beat us,” Sitake said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance. They’re a really good team.”
With September now history, BYU stands at 3-2, a record that probably has exceeded expectations. Many prognosticators anticipated a 1-4 start, only beating McNeese and losing to the Power 5 competition that included Arizona and California in addition to Wisconsin.
Also, spending the last two weeks in the national rankings was beyond most dreams. Probably too good to be true, yes, but now BYU has a month of more winnable games, starting next Friday with Utah State at home.
“We don’t have time to sulk,” Sitake said.
At any point in the offseason, BYU would have taken a 4-2 record midway through the season. But that requires beating a strong Utah State team.
With a good first month, except for the blowout loss to Washington, the Cougars need to rebound next week against the Aggies. It is easy to write off the Washington game to excellent competition, but it won’t fly against the Aggies.
The good vibe surrounding the team took a hit in Seattle, but it would pretty much disappear completing if the team doesn’t show resiliency.
“We have to bounce back,” Mangum said. “Losing sucks.”