Ah, that was nice.
The 2009 Las Vegas Bowl proved to be a tremendous bookend to another tremendous year for BYU football, a season that started with a miracle win against Oklahoma, a regular season that ended with a super-sweet overtime win over Utah, and another 11-2 season.
Thanks, seniors, for four incredible years, unmatched by any period at BYU. We'll miss you.
On a breezy night (sarcastic understatement), BYU proved to be the better, more aggressive team from the get-go. And how sweet is it to beat up on Pac-10 schools? Considering this team was ranked in the top 20 and one quarter away from the Rose Bowl, this is real sweet. Probably more impressive than that win in Dallas in early September...
Speaking of that win against the Sooners, as I was watching the Cougar D stifle OSU, it was almost a carbon copy in terms of effort, speed and aggression. Say what you will about the defense, but when they have a month to focus and prepare on one opponent they play extremely well. They held arguably the best player on the field, Jacquizz Rodgers, to 63 yards on 18 carries--the same guy who averaged 115 yards per game this season. This was the guy who was supposed to blow the game wide open for the Beavers. His brother, James Rodgers, had over 1,000 receiving yards this season: tonight (against a small, slow BYU secondary) he managed only 30 yards.
Almost as a side note, they held OSU QB, Sean Canfield, to 19-40 for 168 yards and forced him to throw a costly interception--a ball that was hawked by Scott Johnson. This is a guy who had completed 70% of his passes all year.
And if anybody's thinking the BYU defense was this productive only because OSU was disappointed to be playing in Las Vegas and not Pasadena, think again. Oregon St. guard, Gree Peat said, "Emotionally we were ready for this game. We came in here and expected to win. It didn't work out that way. That's a credit to BYU. They came ready to play. There are no excuses for the loss."
As for the Cougar offense, though it wasn't his best night, Max Hall was, again, good enough. Given the conditions, he was excellent. We knew going into the game he would have a big advantage against OSU's inexperienced and patchy secondary, and he delivered by throwing three TDs and no interceptions. Once again, the leading receivers the Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, combining for 9 receptions, 91 yards and 1 touchdown. When BYU absolutely had to have a first down, Hall found those guys--just like he's done all year. Throw in the production of Harvey Unga and Manase Tonga and the Cougars proved why their offense is so hard to stop.
By the way, Max Hall became only the second BYU quarterback to win two bowl games in a career. The other QB to do such a thing? A guy by the name of Jim McMahon.
So, what does this win mean? In the grand scheme of things, probably not a lot. BUT, the MWC continues to prove it can play on any stage with anybody in the nation. By dismantling a second-place team from a BCS conference, another feather is placed in the cap for future ammunition in the execution of the pathetic criminal system known as the BCS. It's too bad TCU won't be able to fire the gun this year...
BYU now has won 11 games in three of the last four years, and won 10 in 2008. Since 2006, only four other programs have put together such a record. When this senior class began their journey four years ago the entire focus was to return BYU to its past glory and dominance. Not only did they do it, but they've exceeded it. BYU is program that has been built to last, to stay relevant, and perhaps now, is ready to take football in Provo to the next level. One day that crystal football will have to be coming back to BYU...