Twenty reasons this has been a compelling half-season of college football around here, even in the absence of a Utah school among the 41 teams receiving votes in this week’s AP Top 25:
1 • Every kick is an adventure. Utah, BYU and Utah State have combined to miss six extra points, while making half of their field-goal attempts.
2 • BYU’s defense kept offenses coached by Mike Leach (Washington State), Chris Petersen (Boise State) and Norm Chow (Hawaii) out of the end zone. That should make USU offensive coordinator Matt Wells feel better.
3 • As a head coach, BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall makes a great defensive coordinator. The Cougars are No. 5 nationally in total defense.
4 • Holding two degrees from BYU, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wryly addressed the school’s policy regarding Sunday play by wondering what have happened if the rivalry game went into overtime, after midnight.
5 • After bolting from Weber State, Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith is 2-4. You don’t want me cheering against you.
6 • You don’t want me cheering for you, either. Weber State is 0-6. Assistant coach Ted Stanley, who’s admirably raising his infant daughter, Emmerson, following the pregnancy-related loss of his wife in June, has coached in 29 consecutive defeats at two schools.
7 • Utah’s John White, a 1,500-yard rusher last season, and USU’s Kerwynn Williams, who gained 205 yards against Colorado State, each recorded 18 yards on 14 carries — White vs. Arizona State and Williams vs. BYU.
8 • The Aggies could be 6-0 if Josh Thompson had made winning and tying field goals inside of 40 yards at Wisconsin and BYU.
9 • BYU could be 6-0 if Riley Stephenson had hit a tying field goal at Utah and been allowed to kick a tying extra point at Boise State.
10 • The in-state games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams were closer than ever, just when the schedule is falling apart. Utah State finished plus-4 in points for two games, BYU was even and Utah was minus-4. In regulation, Utah was plus-3 and USU was minus-3.
11 • Those who predicted Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn (prone to shoulder injuries) and BYU’s Riley Nelson (loves to run) would not hold up for 13 games were correct, unfortunately.
12 • In Mendenhall’s first five seasons, quarterbacks John Beck and Max Hall combined to start 63 of 64 games. Over the past three seasons, the 32 starts have been divided among Jake Heaps (16), Nelson (14) and Taysom Hill (two), with Nelson and Hill each suffering a season-ending injury and Nelson missing three other starts for health reasons.
13 • Utah’s students stormed the field prematurely, drawing a 15-yard penalty and enabling BYU to try another field goal. The MUSS earned nice reviews nationally for the atmosphere vs. USC, however.
14 • Following Nelson’s heroics last year, another Logan native (receiver JD Falslev) was involved in BYU’s winning touchdown against USU.
15 • BYU’s Ziggy Ansah once was a novelty, as a track and field athlete from Ghana who knew nothing about football. Now, he’s a force, with 8.5 tackles for loss in six games.
16 • With first-year coordinator Brian Johnson, Utah’s offense ranks 114th among 120 teams. Former offensive line coach Tim Davis’ impact is apparent in his absence — and obvious at Florida, where the Gators’ running game thrived against LSU’s proud defense.
17 • BYU is allowing 8.8 points per game, and even that number is inflated by two defensive touchdowns scored by opponents and Utah’s two short drives. Only Weber State has mounted a TD drive longer than 39 yards against BYU.
18 • Wearing special black uniforms in a “Blackout” promotion, as BYU will do Saturday, hardly is original. USU deserves points for creativity, sporting traditional road uniforms for a homecoming “Whiteout.”
19 • If not for penalties bringing back TD passes, Utah could have tied USU in overtime and led USC at halftime.
20 • Here’s how they’ll finish, going into the bowl season: Utah 6-6, BYU 8-4, USU 9-3.