The BYU Cougars faced several of the nation's top defenses in 2012: Notre Dame, Oregon State, Utah State, just to name a few. They also faced some of the worst (Idaho, New Mexico State).
When the question was put out to site visitors, which game was the BYU offense's best game in 2012, the response was Georgia Tech by a very strong majority (63%). New Mexico State came in second with 15 percent, followed by Oregon State and Notre Dame tied with 6 percent each, Hawaii with four percent, and Washington State, Utah State, and Idaho tied with two percent each.
In Atlanta, the BYU offense put up 41 points, and had 411 yards of total offense (228 passing, 183 rushing). For the season, the Georgia Tech defense allowed just 28.3 points per game and 374 yards of total offense (229.8 passing, 144.2 rushing). The Cougar O picked up 22 first downs during the game, successfully converted nine of 16 third downs, and had an amazing 38:59 time of possession.
The Georgia Tech game was a good game for the BYU offense, but not the best in my book. There are a few reasons why I cannot say the Georgia Tech game was the best game for the BYU offense in 2012. First, the cardinal sin in football for an offense is to have a turnover returned for a touchdown. In the first quarter, Riley Nelson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, which tied the game at 7. Second, the offense did not score on a drive longer than 60 yards. All the scoring drives were set up nicely by the defense or special teams. Two touchdown drives were 21 yards or less thanks to a blocked punt and an interception.
The game that gets my vote for best game of the year by the BYU offense is Hawaii.
In game five against Hawaii, BYU scored 47 points, and had 540 yards of total offense (144 passing, 396 rushing). It is easy to dismiss these numbers assuming that Hawaii was a horrible defensive team, but, surprisingly enough, that assumption is false. Hawaii finished 41st nationally in total defense allowing 372.8 yards per game (less than Georgia Tech). The Warriors were tough to throw against all season allowing just 182.8 yards per game, which was 11th best in the nation just behind the BYU defense (10th, 179.2 YPG). Hawaii wasn't fantastic against the run (190.0 yards per game, 88th), but BYU far exceeded that number. The Warriors were very bad at stopping teams from scoring (35.7 points per game, 107th).
Unlike the Georgia Tech game, the BYU offense scored touchdowns on five drives of 70 yards or longer, including drives of 80 and 87 yards. The offense scored a touchdown in all four quarters, which can't be said for the Washington State, Utah State, New Mexico State, and Idaho games.
BYU had 30 first downs, successfully converted seven of 14 third downs, and had an impressive 35:49 time of possession.
Other aspects of the Hawaii game that factor into my vote for this game is that BYU snapped a 17 game drought without a 100-yard rusher. Jamaal Williams has 155 yards rushing and Taysom Hill had 143. Hill was a true freshman and this was his first career start at quarterback, yet the offense came out of the gates fast scoring on its first possession. The backups came in and scored two touchdowns.
BYU did have one turnover (an interception thrown by Hill). A turnover free game would have been preferred, but the only zero turnover game the offense had with production to match the Hawaii game was New Mexico State. The Aggies defense, however, was vastly inferior, statistically, to Hawaii.
Had BYU been able to score over 20 points against Utah State, then that probably would have been the best offensive game. Utah State ended up with the 14th best defense in the nation, and BYU far exceeded the per game averages for total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards allowed by the Aggies. However, a game where the offense produces just six points can't be the best game of the season.
Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "How high will Ezekiel Ansah be taken in the NFL draft?"
Below is a quick summary of each of the eight games listed in the poll question.
33.7 points per game, 425.4 total yards per game, 262.2 passing yards, 163.3 rushing yards
Vs. BYU: 30 points, 426 total yards, 303 pass yards, 123 rush yards
35.7 PPG, 372.8 total YPG, 182.8 passing, 190.0 rushing
Vs. BYU: 47 points, 540 total yards, 144 pass yards, 396 rush yards
15.4 PPG, 322.1 total YPG, 208.3 passing, 113.8 rushing
Vs. BYU: 6 points, 380 total yards, 235 passing, 145 rushing
20.6 PPG, 354.0 total YPG, 224.5 passing, 129.5 rushing
Vs. BYU: 24 points, 386 total yards, 305 pass yards, 81 rush yards
12.8 PPG, 305.5 total YPG, 199.8 passing, 105.7 rushing
Vs. BYU: 14 points, 243 total yards, 177 pass yards, 63 rush yards
28.3 PPG, 374.0 total YPG, 229.8 passing, 144.2 rushing
Vs. BYU: 41 points, 411 total yards, 228 pass yards, 183 rush yards
42.4 PPG, 472.2 total YPG, 275.2 passing, 197.0 rushing
Vs. BYU: 52 points, 537 total yards, 285 pass yards, 252 rush yards
New Mexico State
39.4 PPG, 476.2 total YPG, 254.8 passing, 221.4 rushing
Vs. BYU: 50 points, 520 total yards, 384 pass yards, 136 rush yards
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