For the second-straight week, the BYU Cougars lost a college football heartbreaker on the road, falling 7-6 to Boise State at Bronco Stadium in front of the largest crowd in stadium history, 36,864. Ironically, the last time BYU visited BSU, it fell by a single point as well, 28-27.
Back then, BYU lost when it missed a chip-shot field goal.
Last night, the Cougars lost despite not giving up an offensive touchdown.
Boise State's game-winner came when DT Mike Atkinson returned an interception for a touchdown, cleaning picking off BYU's Riley Nelson, who had the worst night of his athletic career before being pulled in favor of freshman Taysom Hill because he was making too many turnovers, coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
You probably know the numbers: five turnovers for BYU. No turnovers for Boise State.
Ninety-five of BYU's 200 total yards came on its last possession.
But it really came down to one play: the Cougars went for two after Hill's 4-yard TD run got them within a point, 7-6.
Mendenhall said he decided to go for two because the Cougars had offensive momentum.
"I wanted to win. We had momentum for the first time in the game. We were moving the ball offensively and I wanted to capitalize on it. I'd do it again," he said.
But the Cougars were out of timeouts, and Boise State picked up a couple first downs to run out the clock and get the win.
Consensus in the press box was that Mendenhall should have gone for the tie for a couple of reasons: 1) no timeouts in case the two-point try failed. 2) BYU's defense was not giving BSU anything. 3) Hill's confidence was increasing with every play, and likely would have continued into overtime. 4) Boise State coach Chris Petersen had so little confidence in his field goal kicker that he went for it on fourth down several times when he should have gone for the three points. Overtime magnifies kicking problems.
A couple more odds and ends from the game, and then some player and coach comments:
* Boise State had 261 total yards. The Cougars have held 10 straight opponents to fewer than 300 total yards.
* BYU passed for just 61 yards, their lowest passing total since the 2003 snow game against Utah when it had just 41. The Cougars had just 65 in 2010 against Utah State.
* Ziggy Ansah had a career-high eight tackles and a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss. He had his first career sack.
* Cody Hoffman caught a pass for the 23rd straight game, but did not have a first-half reception. He finished with three catches for 21 yards.
* It was the first time Boise State has failed to score in the first half since the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl against Boston College.
BYU backup quarterback Taysom Hill on going for two:
"We got the call [from the sidelines] and we went in and did our best to execute. It's a tough environment; we had the momentum there so I don't blame coach Mendenhall for doing it. It's just a tough break."
Hill on whether he should start at QB:
"Obviously, I want to play. That's the competitive nature in me. That's ultimately up to the coaches and we will just get ready and prepare for our next game."
BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree on not allowing an offensive touchdown:
"That's why football is the ultimate team game. You don't win or lose as an offense or defense. You win or lose as a team."
Ogletree on the goal line stand:
"That's the best feeling in the world. Anytime an offense has four [tries] to score inside their own 1 and you don't let them, that's the best feeling in the world."
Ogletree on Mendenhall's decision to go for two:
"I love the coaches' decision to go for it. We were right there, one catch away from winning the game, so I am not going to question that. I like the call. I think we had the momentum at that point and it was a gutsy call, and that's probably what I would have done if I was a coach."
Boise State coach Chris Petersen on the Broncos' defense and the crowd:
"Unbelievable. There were to entities out there that I was so impressed and excited about. One was our defense, and two was our crowd -- Bronco Nation. They answered, and I guarantee that helped us win. There's no doubt about it."
BSU QB Joe Southwick on the game overall and BYU's defense:
"I think BYU did some really good things against us. Their defense is good. Let's start there -- their defense is really good. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a few times on offense, but our defense carried the flag today and kicked some serious butt."