In the year 53 BC, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome and part of the ruling First Triumvirate, led an army of 50,000 legionnaires to invade the Parthian Empire, Rome’s neighbor to the east. Near the town of Carrhae, which is the modern-day Harran in southeast Turkey, Cassus’s forces met up with a Parthian army that consisted of about 10,000 horse archers. The Romans thought their training, discipline, and brute strength would carry the day. It went poorly. The Parthian cavalry, fighting on their home turf, used their superior speed and maneuverability to launch projectiles accurately through the air (see where this is going?), devastating the legions. Crassus was among the estimated 20,000 Romans who were killed in the battle. It was one of the worst defeats in Roman history.
The BYU Cougars met their own version of the Parthian cavalry last Saturday. Washington Huskies’ QB Jake Browning (literally on turf) devastated the Cougar defense with pinpoint projectile attacks through the air. The final score wasn’t pretty.
But defeats such as Carrhae and Seattle have to happen sometimes in order to build a lasting empire. Crassus’s death exacerbated the tensions between the remaining Triumvirs, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (usually just called Pompey), and a man named Gaius Julius Caeser. From their conflict, the Roman Empire was eventually born.
Washington may have conquered every scrap of territory that BYU held, but the Cougars have not been eliminated from the empire-building business just yet. Let’s take a look at the current map:
As you can see, tonight’s clash between the Cougars and the Aggies will have no bearing on the overall territory picture. The Aggies lost their home territory to the Spartans (Michigan State) in Week 1. But there are still games that imperially-minded Cougar fans will want to follow this weekend:
- San Diego State @ Boise State: This is the big one this weekend. The Aztecs won a large chunk of land from Arizona State, which includes the Sun Devils’ home territory as well as land originally belonging to UT San Antonio, Michigan State, and... Utah State! If Boise State beats the Aztecs, then their showdown with BYU on November 3 will have some big-time stakes.
- Washington @ UCLA: The Huskies will put all the land they won from BYU on the line in Pasadena on Saturday evening. If the Bruins manage to pull off the upset, they could still be in possession of it when they host the Utes in three weeks.
- Arizona State @ Colorado: For being an undefeated team, the Buffaloes don’t have a lot of land to show for it—just their own and Nebraska’s. Both ASU and Colorado still have Utah coming up, so a win by either team could be a boon for BYU down the road.
The crushing defeat at the hands of Washington hurt. A lot. But it takes more than a single loss to bring down an empire. The road to redemption begins tonight in LaVell’s house against the cow people.