When Antoine Hicks rocketed his way into the end zone with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter, cradling a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton, he smiled at teammates who joined in a short victory celebration.
There were no smiles, no celebrations on the other sideline.
Just despair, desperation, and maybe resolve to things as they are.
Time was left on the clock, but no hope left for BYU.
The Cougars trailed by 24 points, on their way to a 38-7 loss.
What it all meant at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night was this: BYU is not as good athletically as TCU, not as well coached, not as polished, not as worthy.
Afterward, Bronco Mendenhall talked frankly about what he had just witnessed, admitting to all of the above.
He essentially said TCU has better talent in its program and the Cougars' only chance was and, in the future, will be to out-execute the Frogs.
He didn't exactly run up a white flag, but it seemed the lightest shade of beige.
"I don't think our program model will ever be identical to TCU's," he said, adding that he loves the kind of athletes BYU recruits, but that discipline and precision would have to "hold at a higher level."
The hard truth: BYU just doesn't have the speed to beat TCU. It could have executed its heart out, and still lost.
"There's another step we have to take," Mendenhall insisted.
For now, that step is backward.
In a game eerily similar to -- but even more lopsided than -- last season's 32-7 thrashing, the Horned Frogs added proof that the Cougars aren't even in their class.
If BYU couldn't beat TCU this season, on its home field, with a senior quarterback and a veteran offense and defense, when will it?
Not next season, when the Cougars lose a load of their starters and have to go back to Fort Worth.
Not for the forseeable future.
It's legitimately wonderable, if there is such a word, that BYU football has already peaked under Mendenhall. Next year's recruiting class has potential, but will it make up the vast ground between the Cougars and ... You-know-Who?
Not for a long time.
"They are a better football team than we are," said Jan Jorgensen.
Mendenhall and Jorgensen said they thought the Cougars had prepared with gusto for TCU. "I was as confident as I've been going into any game," Bronco said.
It didn't matter. BYU fell behind early and stayed behind.
There's not a lot of promise offered in the home team getting road-graded through the first 20 minutes of a game, especially since confidence already was a leftover issue from last year.
This was worse. The Cougars trailed 21-zip in the second quarter, yielding drives of 80, 84, and 73 yards. It was the exact thing they could not afford to do, but they had no choice, really.
By the end of the first quarter, the Horned Frogs had 132 passing yards and 170 total yards.
The Cougars had 12 and 21. Those trends continued throughout, TCU out-passing and out-gaining BYU by a country mile. You can read the ugly details elsewhere.
But you can wonder right here whether the Cougars will ever again dominate the Mountain West as long as TCU and coach Gary Patterson are in it.
At one point, somebody piped the old show tune "To Dream the Impossible Dream" over the stadium's speakers.
That much, the Cougars can do.