Led by the just recently healthy Riley Nelson, the Cougars ran away with this game in the islands, and came awfully close to my prediction of 49-20. Here’s the skinny on what went down.
Riley Nelson. I’ve been waiting for this all season long: BYU finally had a quarterback with a breakout performance that included multiple touchdown passes (3), zero (0) interceptions, and more than three hundred (363) yards passing. But it wasn’t Jake Heaps. Riley Nelson was 25/37 in what became his career high game for passing yards.
Receivers. Cody Hoffman had a HUGE day, reeling in 7 passes for 123 receiving yards and a touchdown. Falslev and Mathews added 80 yards each, and Ross Apo caught two more TD passes in an effort that was very representative of the strength of this unit. These guys ran good routes, fought to get open, and broke routes to make plays when necessary. It was really a great day for BYU WR’s. Memorable moment: Hoffman’s one-handed TD reception.
Defense. The Cougar defense did a good job of clamping down after giving up a 79 yard TD pass in the second quarter. That left the Cougars trailing at halftime. In the end though, the defense had good stats for the day. They held the Warrior offense nearly 30 yards below their season average (308) in passing, and held them around 70 yards below their rushing average (95). Joe Sampson recovered an Uona Kaveinga forced fumble for a touchdown, which ended up being the winning score, and the true turning point in the game.
What we know about Hawaii (6-7, 3-4 WAC)
This loss officially disqualified Hawaii from the playoffs, and since then, their coach chose to retire rather than return for another season. With so many better jobs available this off-season, it will likely be difficult for the Warriors to bring in anyone of note.
What we know about BYU (9-3, 5-0 WAC)
Sure, I know BYU isn’t in the WAC, but they did dominate WAC play this year going unbeaten! On a more serious note, BYU is heading into the bowl season with the opportunity to win a tenth game. They will be playing against Tulsa (8-4, 7-1 C-USA) in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 30th. The Cougars have plenty of momentum going into the bowl game, which should be a very good matchup. It will also be a good chance for revenge on Tulsa, who beat the Cougars in their last meeting (in 2007).