BYU loss to Oregon State just what was needed to beat Notre Dame?

The Brigham Young Cougars' loss this last Saturday to now no. 8 (in the BCS standings) Oregon State was disappointing. But there were good signs – to see BYU compete for almost four quarters against a top 10 team is encouraging. Despite the loss, scratch that, because of the loss, I think the Oregon State game was exactly what BYU needed to best prepare them for Notre Dame.

Over recent years, BYU has had a problem of staying focused and level headed after big wins, or gaining a level of national attention. Big wins and national attention tend to rapidly inflate expectations while reducing determination. Consider, for example, the Florida State game in 2009, a couple weeks after BYU’s big win over then no. 3 Oklahoma. The TCU games in 2008 and 2009, both of which came as BYU put together a string of wins and a rise in the national polls. A win against Oregon State last week very well could have had that same effect. If they had beat then no. 10 Oregon State, they would have been 5-2, made headlines, and possibly even had crept back into the Top 25. All this could have lead to the typical over-confidence they don’t need going into a big game like this one against Notre Dame.

On the other hand, losing can be demoralizing, especially if you get crushed. But this BYU team hung tight with OSU for 54 minutes. It was 21-21 going into the fourth quarter, and 28-24 with about six minutes left. Other than some mistakes in the last few minutes, the BYU offense played one of its best games of the season, and they did so against a top notch defense. Time and time again, throughout most of the game, when they needed to score to keep the game close, the offense rose to the occasion. Rather than demoralizing the team, playing a top 10 team close like that can have a positive effect. It can build confidence. It can make them realize that when they are playing well, and not making mistakes, they can play with anybody. To keep that confidence in check is the fact that, in the end, they lost control and lost the game. This should leave them with the determination necessary to work hard and make the right improvements.

Don't get me wrong, I wanted BYU to beat Oregon State just as much as anybody else. However, now that BYU has lost, we have to accept that reality and look to how it may impact the future. 

I am suggesting that one possible impact that loss may have is to give BYU the right mix of confidence and determination going into an even bigger game against Notre Dame. To be clear – I am under no delusion that BYU has a great chance at winning this game. All I am suggesting is that losing they way they did last week – assuming that the team responded the way I expect them to - may have helped provide as good of chance as they are going to get to upset the Irish. 

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