Several games stand out this season for the defense's exceptional play: Washington State, Boise State, Hawaii, Utah State, Georgia Tech, and San Diego State. In a poll question asking which of these games was the BYU defense's best game in 2012, site visitors selected Boise State most often (41%). San Diego State was second with 30 percent of the vote. Stymieing the Georgia Tech option attack came in third with 22 percent of the votes, while Utah State (4%), Hawaii (3%), and Washington State (0%) got very little love from the voters.
The Boise State game was a spectacular defensive effort. Who can forget the goal line stand from the one-yard line, the 0-5 on fourth downs, and the shutout from the defense (Boise State's only points came on an interception return for a touchdown). To make it more impressive, this game was played on the blue turf in Boise where the Broncos have been dominant this century.
I, however, disagree that this was the best game of 2012 by the BYU defense.
If you thought the BYU offense was bad this year, then how about Boise State's? The Bronco's ranked 68th nationally in total offense (BYU was 60th) with 391.3 yards per game. They even had the benefit of stat padding against the MWC bottom feeders. While BYU held Boise State 130 yards below their season average (261), this Cougar D did better during the year. I also have to vote against the Boise State game because the defense didn't get a stop when the team really needed it. Whether it was wise or foolish for BYU to go for 2 points after the touchdown, or kick the ball deep afterwards, the team needed the defense to get the ball back right away, and they didn't.
My vote for best defensive game in 2012 would be Utah State. The Aggies were the best offense BYU faced all year. They finished 21st nationally with 469.1 yards per game. While Utah State had games against WAC teams to pad its stats, the Aggies had already proved they were a legit offense. Against Utah, they had 380 yards of total offense and 27 points. Playing Wisconsin in Madison, Utah State put up 308 yards and 14 points. The Aggies offense was two dimensional, meaning they could run and pass the ball well (265 pass per game, 204 rush per game). San Diego State and especially Georgia Tech were one dimensional offenses
The Cougar D surrendered just 243 yards (202 pass, 41 rush) to Utah State. Kerwin Williams rushed for 1,512 yards this season. He had just 18 yards on 14 carries against BYU. Chuckie Keeton was under duress all night long. He was sacked three times and had a pass efficiency rating of 102.6 (season rating 154.6). Utah State averaged 34.9 points per game (26th in the nation), but could only manage a single, solitary field goal against BYU. Most importantly, the Cougar defense held Utah State scoreless for the final three quarters. Even with two drives starting at or very near mid-field, BYU surrendered no more points after the field goal in the final minute of the first quarter. This was imperative since the BYU offense only scored six points all game. They made all the stops needed to win the game.
Below is a quick summary of each of the six games listed in the poll question. (National rankings in parenthesis.)
359.5 ypg (96), 330.4 pass (9), 29.1 rush (124), 20.4 ppg (108)
Vs. BYU: 224 total, 229 pass, -5 rush, 6 points
Other: Season low rush yards allowed.
391.3 ypg (68), 223.2 pass (71), 168.2 rush (56), 30.2 ppg (55)
Vs. BYU: 261 total, 145 pass, 116 rush, 0 points
Other: Road game, Goal line stand from the one, Boise State 0-5 on fourth down
297.4 ypg (121), 188.8 pass (101), 108.6 rush (114), 21.2 ppg (102)
Vs. BYU: 149 total, 108 pass, 41 rush, 0 points
Other: Only true shutout, Season low total yards
469.1 ypg (21), 265 pass (38), 204 rush (26), 34.9 ppg (26)
Vs BYU: 243 total, 202 pass, 41 rush, 3 points
441.1 ypg (35), 129.9 pass (119), 311.2 rush (4), 33.6 ppg (34)
Vs BYU: 157 total, 40 pass, 117 rush, 3 points
Other: Road game, “ACC athletes,” 0-10 on third down, Season low pass yards.
San Diego State
396.6 ypg (61), 175.9 pass (107), 220.7 rush (20), 32.8 ppg (36)
Vs. BYU: 263 total, 144 pass, 119 rush, 6 points
Other: Kyle Van Noy scored 2 TDs, Forced 5 turnovers
Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in the new poll question: "Which game was the BYU offense's best game in 2012?"