Flashback: When it's good, it's GOOD

Jay Miller (left) and Gary Sheide were two big sources of GOOD for BYU football in 1973 (Mark A. Philbrick, BYU Photos).

Looking over the season stats for the 1973 BYU Cougars, they were very, very similar to their opponents in many categories. Rushing yards, yards per rush, rushing touchdowns were all virtually equal. Turnovers, too, and not just the total number of turnovers. The number of interceptions thrown and fumbles lost were nearly identical.

 Rushing Yards  
 Rushing TDs
 Interceptions Thrown 
 Fumbles Lost 

There are two statistical categories, however, that are not close: passing yards and points scored.

 Passing Yards  
 Points Scored  

That's nearly 1,000 more yards passing, and over 85 more points scored over the course of 11 games. That would lead one to believe that BYU had a pretty good win-loss record that season. For comparison, BYU was 7-4 the year before and outscored its opponents just 251 to 227. The reality was, in 1973 BYU had a losing record, 5-6. What accounts for the win-loss record not reflecting the statistical imbalances, especially points scored?

When it was good, it was GOOD.

In the five wins, BYU outscored its opponents 247-71. The average margin of victory was 35.2 points. None of the wins was closer than 23 points. BYU scored at least 37 points in each of the wins.

 1973 Wins 
 BYU vs. Oregon State  
 BYU vs. New Mexico  
 BYU vs. Weber State
 BYU vs. Utah 
 BYU vs. UTEP 

As for the passing yards, the same phenomenon didn't happen. In fact, Oregon State had more passing yards than BYU, 219 to 187, and 68 of those yards for BYU weren't supposed to happen. With the game out of reach, 30-14, Gary Sheide came off the bench. He threw a 68-yard touchdown pass after changing the run play that the coaches sent in.

BYU did, however, nearly double New Mexico's 231 passing yards with 450, but Weber State wasn't too far behind (244 to 192). The Cougars outgained the Utes by 109 yards through the air, which is a good margin, but not nearly enough to create 1,000 yards of separation in just the five wins. UTEP did it's part, though. The Miners had just 51 yards passing to BYU's 256.

Overall, BYU had 554 more yards passing in its five wins, which is roughly half of the 998 yard separation between BYU and its opponents over the course of the season.

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