BYU beat Idaho State by the count of 59-14 on Saturday.
The Cougars could have gone for a hundred.
In the first half, BYU led 42-7 — when its starters did their work. They out-gained the Bengals in that first half by exactly 300 yards. They had 20 first downs and the Bengals had five. Jaren Hall passed for four touchdowns and 298 yards.
Then everybody headed for chuckles and OtterPops in the locker room over the break.
The second half mattered not at all.
It was a waste of time.
Whoever thought it’s a good idea for an outfit like Idaho State to play BYU either has a sick sense of humor or is desperate for a chunk of cash.
Maybe it’s both.
BYU’s not alone here. Unfortunately, far too many major teams do it.
That’s the thing with these kinds of mismatches. They are justified in the college game as opportunities for lesser athletes, lesser programs to see what they can do against higher-level competition, with the byproduct of making some money as a needed benefit for lesser athletic departments, thereby helping, it is said, student-athletes to have whatever comes from that payoff.
So on Saturday, BYU got its victory, its fans got a cheap thrill, Idaho State got used, and the Bengal players suffered the consequences.
Don’t you hate this stuff?
College football is supposed to provide true competition, an athletic event. This was not that. This was the clubbing of baby seals, it was twisting the heads off chickens.
An L was hung around Idaho State’s neck before it ever showed up at LaVell’s Place.
Did you see the expressions on the faces of the Bengals, their collective body language? Did they look like they were having any sort of fun? Getting any kind of positive educational experience out of this? No. They looked … discouraged and defeated. They looked embarrassed.
Only because they were.
It’s one thing for a team on a certain plane to play beneath itself on a given day and lose big to an opponent. OK, they screwed up, or the other guys played out of their minds.
Deal with it.
It’s another when neither of those two things happen, when the teams are what they are. One scripted to win, the other never to have had any chance to taste triumph, for it to be fully aware of what is coming and then to be forced to endure it, the actualization even worse than the expectation.
BYU put its subs in through the second half, but that was no consolation. Those 2s and 3s and 4s were hungry for a chance to shine, as they should be. It’s not their fault they get a chance to play and a chance to show what they can do. But deep down, even they know what’s going on — that this is not a real game and real effort isn’t required.
It’s a sham. And sure enough, the play got sloppy.
The Cougars could go ahead and celebrate their successes, slapping each other on their pads and hats, all while the starters broke out grins and giggles, laughs and loungers on the sideline.
The disrespect is amplified to a greater volume when the superior team no longer attempts to play, when it eases off the throttle and a party breaks out in the stands, everyone on hand paying attention to anything but the game itself.
All of that happened on Saturday.
It was a game with no soul, no meaning. An empty win for the Cougars, a humiliation for the Bengals.
The only good thing for the visitors was the short bus ride home to Pocatello, where they would heal up and wish they were better players, the coaches wishing they had better jobs at better schools.
But Idaho State got its money.
And BYU got its jollies.
The fans in the stands got a stress-free afternoon.
But what they watched was not football, not fair football.
It was testament to a sad-and-sorry aspect to the college game, to the hypocrisy of it. This outcome did nobody any good, at least nobody who was playing on the field. It proved nothing for or about BYU. It evidenced to the Bengals what they already knew, but now had crammed down their throats — that they are inferior.
Shame on everyone, every administrator on both ends involved in scheduling games like this. It happens and it will go on happening. We get it. Complaining about it will change nothing. Let the kids on one side get their automatic win and let the kids on the other side get their heads kicked in.
So let it be done, so let the check be written.