378 miles. That is how far Las Vegas is from Provo, Utah. It’s also 414 miles from Tucson, Arizona, home to the Arizona Wildcats. That’s about as neutral of a site you can find between the two programs.
The Cougars and Wildcats squared off on Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders, just off the strip in Las Vegas. 54,541 fans came out to the spectacular venue that is just 14 months old and BYU won 24-16 in a hard-fought slugfest.
Attendance tonight at Allegiant Stadium: 54,541.— BYU Game Notes (@BYUGameNotes) September 5, 2021
It is the largest crowd ever for a football game in the state of Nevada.
Second largest crowd for any team sporting event in Nevada. (2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, 61,114)#BYUFootball
By my personal assessment, as I was one of those 54,541 fans in attendance, it was at least three-quarters BYU fans, perhaps even closer to 80 percent full of the loyal, strong and true, wearing mostly royal blue, with speckles of Arizona red in the lower bowl. Fans young and old poured into the stadium, from the current student to the family of five, everyone wanted to see the Cougars play in such a sparkling building in the glitziest of cities.
This looks like a 75% BYU crowd to me.— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) September 5, 2021
Let’s think about this for a moment. Allegiant Stadium is an NFL venue, now perhaps one of the most state-of-the-art stadiums in all of the United States. I was taken aback at how large it looked on the outside and yet it seemed even more grand and immense once I stepped inside.
The stadium itself is 1.8 million square feet. It seemed even bigger.
Cougar fans showed up in impressive fashion. Perhaps it was them emerging from their cages and caves after not being able to attend games for the most part last year due to the global pandemic or it was the excitement of an 11-1 season spilling over into the next year. However it happened, BYU fans essentially took over an NFL stadium when they were playing a PAC-12 program (read that again, Big 12!). At least 40,000 Cougar fans made their presence felt and it had an impact on the game. The nation watched and took notice as it was the featured late-night game on ESPN.
Yes, the uninitiated do not understand that not all BYU fans traveled from Provo to the game. In fact, there are a large number of BYU fans who live in Las Vegas and the surrounding suburbs. The affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints creates a built-in fanbase wherever the football team travels. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of members of the Church that live within range of a road trip to Vegas from Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California.
How many other college football programs could nearly sell out an NFL venue not in the home state of the school, with their fans? Not many outside of Notre Dame and BYU.
Also, who else can fill a stadium and not come close to selling out the beer? BYU fans truly are a peculiar bunch.
Only BYU fans can nearly fill an NFL stadium, be loud and raucous, be as passionate about their team, and do it stone-cold sober.
Bravo, BYU fans. You flexed your muscles on the primetime stage in one of the shiniest cities in America on Saturday. One can only hope the Big 12 was watching on Saturday night.