Flashback: A Boost of Confidence

The confidence of the Brigham Young Cougars defense is pretty high right now after dominating a banged up offense during spring practices. Dominating a big name opponent 20 years ago gave the BYU defense a big boost of confidence.

On Halloween in 1992, BYU welcomed the Penn State Nittany Lions to Provo. Just one week earlier, the Cougars surrendered 455 total yards (291 yards rushing) and 42 points to Notre Dame, led by future NFL first round draft picks Rick Mirer and Jerome Bettis. The Penn State offense had two future NFL first round draft picks of its own: quarterback Kerry Collins and wide receiver O.J. McDuffie. Penn State’s starting tight end and running back would also have NFL careers.

The Cougar defense had its hands full, again.

After three quarters of play, Penn State had only netted 252 yards (61 yards rushing) and scored 3 points. The Cougar D stopped two Penn State scoring threats with great goal line stands in the second and third quarters. McDuffie had been a non-factor. BYU had built a 27-point lead, and the outcome was not in doubt. In both the second and third quarters,

Dominating the potent Penn State offense was a turning point for the BYU defense. The following week, the defense held the New Mexico Lobos scoreless. It was the first time in four years that BYU had recorded a shutout. The defense followed up the shutout by allowing Air Force to score just seven points and only surrendered 181 yards of total offense. The BYU defense continued its dominance into the Utah game. They held the Utes scoreless for the first three quarters and allowed just 47 yards rushing for the entire game.

The BYU defense had only six shutout quarters in the first eight games of the season. With the confidence gained from the Penn State game, the BYU defense shutout its opponents in 10 of the next 11 quarters.

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