After the Brigham Young Cougars fourth consecutive loss of 14 points or more last Friday, as a fan, I was feeling very low. This comes on the heels of four consecutive 10+ win seasons. Such a precipitous drop caused me to wonder, “Is this a new low for BYU football?” Obviously, the pre-Edwards era had lower moments, but that was well before most of our lifetimes, or at least our time following the program. Since LaVell Edwards came along and allowed fans to have good expectations, five weeks into the 2010 season could be the lowest moment in BYU football.
1-4 Start. The last time BYU was 1-4 was Edwards’ second season (1973). The difference between the 1-4 start in 1973 and 2010 is that BYU had scored 37 points in a win over Oregon State, and Gary Sheide had thrown for over 400 yards in a loss to Iowa State. In other words, BYU had some signs of life.
Lost to Utah State. BYU lost to Utah State for the first time since 1993, a two point loss 58-56. You have to go back to 1982, a three point loss 20-17, for the next time BYU lost to the Aggies. Each year, BYU went on to win the WAC and play in the Holiday Bowl (against Ohio State both years, coincidentally). The last time that BYU lost to Utah State by 15 points or more was 1978 (24-7).
Four game losing streak. This is the first four game losing streak since the 1993 season. Another difference in 1993 was that BYU started the year with a four game win streak, not a one game win streak.
Drop in Total Wins. The largest drop in wins from one year to the next at BYU was 8 from the 1996 season (14 wins) to the 1997 season (6 wins), but BYU still managed a winning record in 1997. The drop from 2001 to 2002 was 7 wins (12 wins to 5 wins). The 2002 season was the first losing season in 29 years at BYU, but at least BYU beat Utah State. Looking at the schedule, the only games that look winnable at this point are New Mexico and Colorado State (UNLV is a toss up). A three win year this year would match the eight win drop from 1996 to 1997.
Porous run defense. Opponents are averaging 259 yards rushing per game thus far in 2010. The most a BYU defense has allowed since LaVell took the reigns in 1972 is 227.7 yards per game (1993). The only other time BYU has allowed over 200 yards rushing per game was 2001 (202.8).
No passing game. The vaunted BYU passing attack was MIA at the Air Force Academy in week two. The 88 yards passing was the lowest passing total in a single game since 2003 (41 versus the University of Utah).
The 2003 season, now we are on to something. With the exception of the run defense, none of the lows that BYU has experienced this year are unprecedented. The 1973, 1982, 1993, and 1997 seasons had some redeeming virtues to them. The 2003 season did not. Forgive me for opening wounds that healed long ago, but as a quick review: the 2003 season saw BYU literally throw away a win against Stanford (John Beck interception deep in BYU territory with a few minutes to go up by 2), saw Colorado State come into Provo and walk out with a 58-13 victory and Boise State returned the favor three weeks later 50-12, saw the team lose to Wyoming, saw BYU need overtime to beat UNLV, and, worst of all, saw the NCAA record 361 consecutive game scoring streak come to an end against Utah. BYU finished 2003 with a 4-8 record, the worst for BYU since 1970 (3-8). This truly was the lowest point in BYU football.
The 2010 football season is not over. No one has put 50 points on BYU, yet. No one has shutout BYU, yet. Five wins, even six wins and a bowl game, is not mathematically impossible, yet. However, have we seen the worst that 2010 has to offer? TCU and Utah are both ranked in the top 10. Can BYU turn things around in time for those games?
Although 2010 feels very low, it is not a new low for BYU football. There is no need to resort to that level of despair, yet.
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