Boise • BYU senior linebacker Sione Takitaki would likely have been the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl if not for some 18-year-old kid by the name of Zach Wilson.

Takitaki, who was almost kicked off the team before his BYU career even began as a self-described “obnoxious freshman” back in 2014, was all over the field in helping limit Western Michigan to 313 yards in a 49-18 BYU win at Albertsons Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Takitaki made a career-high 19 tackles, fourth-most in school history in a single game, and also added a sack.

“You look at what it means to be a football player on the defensive side of the ball and very few, very, very few people do it like Sione Takitaki, and that’s a guarantee,” said BYU receiver Dylan Collie, who had six catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns and also could have won the MVP if Wilson hadn’t gone 18 for 18 for 317 yards and four touchdowns.

How impressive was Takitaki’s performance? Consider that no other Cougar had more than seven tackles (Tanner Jacobson) and the defensive captain didn’t always play middle linebacker. He moved around a lot to confuse WMU freshman quarterback Kaleb Eleby, and it worked.

SIONE TAKITAKI’S BIG DAY


* Made 19 total tackles, tying him for No. 4 in school history for total tackles in a single game
• Also set career-highs with 10 assisted tackles and nine solo tackles, and added a sack
• His 19 tackles was one shy of the bowl record, set by Idaho’s Ryan Skinner against Southern Miss in 1998

BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he had “no idea” that Wilson had not thrown an incompletion until he was told after the game.

“You know, I thought maybe Sione would have a good chance of getting the MVP, and thought Dylan would have a good chance, but after I heard that I changed my mind," Sitake said.

Takitaki, perhaps BYU’s best candidate to get selected in April’s NFL draft, finished the season with 118 tackles, becoming only the 68th BYU player to post 100 or more tackles in a single season.

“I just knew this was my last go-round with these guys and these coaches,” Takitaki said. “They have been so good to me my whole career here. I just wanted to kind of go out there and leave it all out there on the field. Every play in my head, I am like, ‘if I can get this play made and back these guys, I am going to get them all.’”