New Mexico Bowl Recap: Brigham Young Cougars 52, UTEP Miners 24

A big play on special teams prevented the Brigham Young Cougars from winning the last game of the regular season. In the New Mexico Bowl against the UTEP Miners, a big special teams play helped BYU get the ball rolling very early. JD Falslev returned a UTEP punt 43 yards after the Cougar D stopped the Miners on the first series of the game. It took only four plays for BYU to cover the remaining 37 yards and get into the end zone. BYU pushed the lead to 14-0 on their next possession.

After trading field goals to end the first quarter, UTEP appeared poised to make this game competitive. That was when Brandon Ogletree intercepted a UTEP pass to set the offense up at the UTEP 31-yard line. Jake Heaps wasted no time going deep to Cody Hoffman for a touchdown on the very next play. With a commanding 24-3 lead, there was no turning back.

With a 31-10 lead to start the second half, BYU didn’t come out complacent. They tacked on 14 more in the third quarter, and just three minutes into the final period the Cougars had built a commanding 52-17 lead. Time to clear the benches.

This bowl helps put a positive spin on one of the most unique seasons of football at BYU. It is easy to question what could have been, but then there is the saying all’s well that ends well. Of course, what happens the next two to three years will determine whether all the turmoil this year ends well.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Brandon Ogletree interception on the first play of the second quarter setting up the Heaps to Hoffman TD. The interception put the “writing on the wall.”

CO-PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Andrew Rich—2 interceptions (43 total return yards), 5 tackles, 1 sack; Jake Heaps—25-34 (73.5%), 264 yards, 4 TD, 1 Int.

Things to watch for:
  1. Licking their chops. The BYU defense didn’t disappoint. They registered four sacks for -58 yards, intercepted 3 passes (new BYU bowl record), held UTEP to -12 rushing yards and 233 total yards (the rushing yards is a new BYU bowl record).
  2. Continued emergence. McKay Jacobson was the second leading receiver pulling in 4 receptions for 32 yards. Two of those receptions were for first downs in the first quarter. The tight end position had 5 receptions for 40 yards with three tight ends accounting for these totals. Not exactly what BYU is accustom to and needs from that position, but still much better than the first half of the season. In the end, it was Cody Hoffman who was Heaps’ go to guy. Hoffman had over half of Heaps’ 264 passing yards, and three of the four TD passes.
  3. Continued growth. The UTEP defense wasn’t a great measuring stick to measure Jake Heaps’ progress. Heaps was the game’s offensive player of the game, and he had his second best game, by the numbers. In the game preview, I compared the UTEP defense to the Colorado State defense, and Heaps had comparable completion percentages (73.5 to 75.0), touchdown passes (4 to 4), and passing yards (264 to 242). Heaps’ pass efficiency Saturday (171.7) was his second best of the season (the first being the Colorado State game). As far as the intangibles (command of the offense, leadership, etc.), Heaps has proven that he is the man for the job. He should be the undisputed starter for 2011.
  4. Coming back to haunt you. For the second year in a row, Bronco Mendenhall turned the tables, in a major way, on a coach or a team that had ties with him back to his playing days. If you ask some of the New Mexico Lobo fans, they may say he came back to haunt them as well. They could be feeling the sting, still, thinking about how they lost Mendenhall to BYU several years ago.
  5. Two in a row. BYU has now won two bowl games in a row five times. These most recent two are arguably the most impressive win streak. BYU has outscored its opponents 96-44. The 96 points is a BYU bowl record over two consecutive bowl games.
Other observations:
  • Bowl Records. BYU was breaking school bowl records left and right in the New Mexico Bowl. Here are the ones that I came up with:
    Time of possession-38:16
    Passes Intercepted-3
    Least yards rushing allowed-(-12)
    Most rushing yards-219
    Most points scored-52
    Most points scored in back-to-back bowls-96

    Most TD passes-4, Jake Heaps (tie),
    Most TD receptions-3, Cody Hoffman (tie),
    Highest completion percentage-73.5%, Jake Heaps,
    Most passes intercepted-2, Andrew Rich (tie).
  • The official BYU football website lists several other records that were set. To view them, you can click here.
  • Get used to it. For the second time in three games, freshmen have been the team leaders in passing (Heaps, 264 yards), rushing (Joshua Quezada, 101 yards), and receiving (Hoffman, 137 yards). Something tells me that these three will be team leaders several times next year as well.
  • The corner blitz. Corby Eason has given the defense a new weapon: the corner blitz. Andrew Rich even got in on it and registered a sack on the first drive. Eason ended the year with 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss. Not bad for a reserve cornerback.
  • Going out in style. BYU has left the Mountain West Conference on a high. A big win in a stadium of a MWC school. Whether beloved or hated by the other MWC schools and fan bases, BYU has to be satisfied with the last impression that they left.
  • UTEP vs. Colorado State. As noted, I compared the UTEP defense with the Colorado State defense before the game. Well, the results were similar. Total points: 49 (CSU), 52 (UTEP). Total yards: 526 (CSU), 514 (UTEP). Bottom line is that the BYU offense had its way with each team.

Editor's Note: BYU Football Talk will continue with the regular weekly schedule for Poll Questions, Flashbacks, and Trivia questions all during the offseason. Additional details are forthcoming on what else can be expected from January to August.


  1. Great article. One thing though - why would you think that they would have freshmen leaders next year as well? Those 3 offensive leaders will become sophomores next year...

  2. Good catch, I need to clarify that. Heaps, Hoffman, and Q will be the statistical leaders next year.


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