Utah 17, BYU 16

BYU met Utah for the final time as MWC conference foes, and for the first time in 15 games, BYU fell short in a close game.  The Cougars had enjoyed a 14 game winning streak in games decided by 7 or fewer points.  That ended on a blocked field goal attempt as time expired.  The best way I heard it put: BYU went for the high percentage play, but got beat out by a low-percentage block.  Any way you slice it, it stings.

Keys to the game

Jake Heaps and the Receivers. Probably the best thing we can take away from this game is the play of Jake Heaps.  He was able to go into RES and play his game.  Because of the position of BYU starting QB, Heaps has been compared against Max Hall throughout the season.  In this game, Heaps played better than Max Hall – because Heaps did something that Max struggled with: he looked good in a loss.  Heaps was level-headed, looked seasoned, and when called upon to lead his team down the field for the win, he delivered.  He got them into scoring position for the would-be game-winning field goal that was not to be.  When the Ute Defense took away the Cougar run game, Heaps performed well, throwing for nearly 300 yards.

The Rush Attack. As I mentioned, the rush attack was held in check by the Ute D.  The Cougars didn’t break 70 yards rushing, and were led by Kariya and Quezada with just over 30 yards apiece.

Special Teams. Special teams ended up deciding the day, as the game came down to a last second blocked kick.

Ball Control. BYU gave up four turnovers, while forcing three.  Two of those total turnovers happened on the same controversial play, as BYU intercepted the ball and consequently fumbled it (according to the replay officials, but not according to video evidence).  While many of the Cougar faithful felt that the outcome of the game was decided by this blown call – remember, please, that Utah blocked the field goal in the end.  Sure, things would have been different had the call gone BYU’s way, but when the game came down to one play, Utah won the play.

Bronco D. Bronco’s defense once again was amazing through most of the game – shutting out the high-powered Utah offense for three quarters.  Utah struggled to drive the ball throughout the game, and a few miscues led to big plays and points for Utah in the fourth quarter.

What we know about Utah

Utah finished the regular season (10-2) and will be heading to the Las Vegas Bowl to play the Broncos of Boise State.  With their tenth win, the Utes now have ten wins in each of the last three seasons, which is a school record.  The Boise St. deal was put together because the Pac-10 didn’t have enough bowl eligible teams to fill their contracted bowls.  The match-up is one of the better non-BCS bowls this year, featuring two teams that had hoped to end up in BCS games this year.  Utah fell short with their losses to TCU and Notre Dame, while Boise St. lost an overtime game to Nevada.

What we know about BYU

The loss to Utah was heart-breaking.  The Cougars had shut-out the Utes for three quarters – in RES – only to have the game slip away in the fourth, and to have the exclamation point block to end it all.  Despite the loss, however, BYU has much to look forward to.  They have a future star in Jake Heaps – who will only be better next year.  They have a bowl game coming up against UTEP.  And maybe the best part of all – the Cougars won’t have to wait a whole year to play Utah again – their next match-up will be on September 17th, in Provo.

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