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BYU vs Virginia: Revenge, redemption, or both

Many BYU coaches and players are downplaying the revenge factor of the upcoming game against Virgina, but should they?

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Let me give you a list of NCAA FBS teams from last year and you guess what they have in common:

South Florida Temple Eastern Michigan

University of Texas-El Paso

(UTEP)

New Mexico State

University of Alabama -

Birmingham (UAB)

Air Force Kentucky Virginia

Guesses?  (let me know in the comments if you got it right!)

Answer: They all went 2-10 last year.  That is a really bad record (the third worst record statistically possible in NCAA football,) and something that teams should be (and usually are) ashamed of.

What's even worse than going 2-10?  (Other than winning just one or no games at all of course.) Being a team that lost to a 2-10 team.  Most teams that represent that "2" part of 2-10 (or the "1" part of 1-11) are pretty bad, and often a team from a lower division.  Let's take a look who those previously mentioned 2-10 team beat (in order of what I think are the worst to best teams).

Eastern Michigan beat Howard and Western Michigan, two FCS teams. UAB beat Northwestern State (FCS) and Florida International (FIU, finished 1-11). New Mexico State beat Abilene Christian (FCS) and Idaho (and we all know how good Idaho is).  UTEP beat fellow 2-10 New Mexico State, and the aforementioned 1-11 FIU.  Air Force beat Colgate (FCS) and Army (finished 3-9). Kentucky (who plays in the SEC) only beat Miami (OH) (winless) and Alabama State (FCS).  Temple beat Army and Memphis (3-9).  Virgina beat Virginia Military Institute (VMI, FCS, also went 2-10) and BYU.  Finally South Florida was actually a decent team that lost a number of close conference games, but squeaked by Cincinnati (who finished 9-4) and U Conn (3-9).

Of the 11 FBS teams that lost to 2-10 teams, only two of them had winning records, Cincinnati and BYU. Those two teams should be ashamed of giving away a win to such a lowly team.  It is never good to find yourself on a list of football teams next to Miami (OH) and FIU.

BYU lossses leading to revenge games

BYU coaches and players have been recorded this past week saying that revenge isn't on their minds or that it's not a factor in their preparation for Saturday.  This is all nice and dandy to say to the media to look professional, but I hope it's not true. Perhaps they're just saying that in order to not give Virginia the satisfaction of having the upper hand, or to downplay the idea of this being any sort of rivalry (like how SDSU used to call us their football rival, and BYU fans always downplayed it and ignored them).

Whatever the case may be, BYU coaches and players need to realize that the loss to Virginia last year was possibly the worst loss of Bronco's head-coaching tenure.  Not in terms of a blowout loss (I think that honor goes to Utah 2011 or TCU 2009), but in terms of losing to a really bad team, one that you really should have beaten.

The three worst losses to crappy teams (and how BYU got revenge) in the Bronco tenure are as follows:

#3

2005, after a 1 point overtime loss to TCU at home, a deflated BYU team travels to SDSU and looses 31-10 to a Aztec team that would finish the year 5-7.  (Aztecs everywhere think they have found their rival, then get crushed the next 5 years in row, capped off in 2012 with the Kyle Van Noy Bowl, brought to you by Kyle Van Noy.)

#2

2010, after two road losses and getting beat up at home by Colin Kaepernick, BYU travels to Utah State (who they hadn't lost to in 17 years,) underestimates the feisty Aggies, and gets upset 31-16. True Aggies storm the field, but they finish the season 4-8.  (This revenge here is a little more big picture, in the 70th year of the series, and being on the loosing end the entire time, BYU finally took the overall series lead in 1992, the next year though Utah State won to tie the series.  BYU won the next 10 games in a row before that fateful night in Logan, in a way it's all part of revenge for the first 70 years of the series.  In 2011 BYU let the Aggies feel good with a game opening 80 yard TD run from Robert Turbin...  Ok, really the cougars looked down and out before Riley Nelson's lovely locks brought us two 4th quarter touchdowns and the miracle drive from the BYU 4 yard line with 2:36 left in the game, including a 40 yard pass to the middle of nowhere that McKay Jacobson just happened to catch. BYU hasn't lost since) More on that exciting series in the coming weeks.

#1

2013, Coming off an 8-5 year, a much improved BYU team looking to start the season off right goes to Charlottesville, VA to play the Cavaliers that went 4-8 the year before.  The favorite by almost any measure, the Cougars succumb to bad weather and poor play to lose to Virginia 19-16.

I think it would be hard to argue that there is a game since 2005 where BYU lost when favored more heavily than the Virginia game last year, especially when you consider the final record of the teams (BYU 8-5, Virginia 2-10).  Every player who sat through that 2 hour weather delay needs to have carved on their hearts "19-16," and have a fire inside ready to exact revenge on the Cavaliers.

Revenge, redemption, putting them back in their place, righting a wrong, setting the record straight... Whatever you want to call it, BYU better know the embarrassment of last year's loss and know that all of Cougar Nation is anxiously waiting to put it behind them.