PROVO, Utah – In its first home loss to Utah State since 1978, No. 18/19 BYU football fell 35-20 in the annual in-state matchup Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“First of all, congratulations to Matt Wells and Utah State," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "It’s a big win for them and their program. They really out-executed us, made a few more plays than us. We had too many balls go over our head and too many turnovers. In a game like that, I think could have been a great football game.They executed cleaner from beginning to end."
Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill led the offensive effort with a rushing touchdown and a career-high 178.3 efficiency rating on 8-of-11 passing for 99 yards and one passing touchdown. The junior left the game due to a season-ending fractured left leg, injured late in the second quarter.
Picking up the slack for BYU was running back Jamaal Williams, who rushed for 99 yards on 17 attempts. Jordan Leslie led the receiving corps with 135 yards on four receptions, while Mitch Mathews bolstered the team with 117 yards receiving on eight receptions and a touchdown. It was the first time any receiver passed the century mark this season.
On the first play of the game, Hill completed a 53-yard pass to Leslie up the right sideline for the second-longest reception of the season. After a four-yard reception to Leslie and a seven-yard run by Williams, the BYU quarterback found the end zone as he sprinted around the left side, turned up the field and jumped over an Aggie defender for the first score of the game. The drive took 1:16 off the clock for the fourth-quickest touchdown drive on the season.
With 50 seconds left in the first quarter, Utah State assembled a touchdown drive to knot the game at 7-7. Aggie quarterback Darrell Garretson connected for 56 yards through the air, including the completion to Devon Robinson for the score.
The BYU offense then took the field for a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The quarter began by stringing together three consecutive long runs. Hill converted for a first down on a keeper for 12 yards before Williams took the ball for two runs of nine yards each. The drive ended in Mathews’ 25-yard touchdown catch on the left side.
With the score 14-7 in favor of the Cougars, the Aggies then took 8:20 off the clock with a 13-play, 88-yard touchdown drive. The score came on Garretson’s dive into the end zone.
Following the kickoff, BYU fumbled the handoff on the first play of the drive, and Utah State recovered it at the BYU 22-yard line. Garretson then threw a touchdown pass to Robinson as he ran toward the right corner of the end zone, making the score 21-14 after the PAT.
Before halftime and after the Hill injury, the Aggies converted on a 72-yard deep pass for the quick score, stretching their lead to 28-14.
Coming out of the break BYU held Utah State to a punt. BYU then marched down the field 82 yards before being intercepted at the Utah State 2-yard line. The Cougars then forced an Aggie punt and capitalized on the field position with a 41-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 28-17 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
Utah State struck back with a 76-yard drive to go up 35-17 with 1:49 left in the third.
For the final score of the game, BYU chipped away at the lead with a 52-yard drive ending in a 24-yard Trevor Samson field goal with 8:39 left in the game, bringing the score to 35-20.
The last time the Cougars lost to the Aggies in Provo was when Jim McMahon was quarterback for BYU. McMahon's jersey was retired at halftime of Saturday night's game. McMahon was also recognized for his induction into the BYU Hall of Fame with four other former Cougars. For more on the Hall of Fame inductions, read the official release.
The Cougars make a quick turnaround next week as they head out to Orlando for a matchup against Central Florida. The Thursday night game will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.
No. 18/19 BYU battles Utah State for Old Wagon Wheel
PROVO, Utah–No. 18/19 BYU welcomes Utah State to LaVell Edwards Stadium for its annual October showdown Friday at 8:15 p.m. MDT. At stake is the Old Wagon Wheel, which the Cougars have won rights to display the last three years.
ESPN will broadcast the game live, with kickoff at 8:21 p.m. MDT. Fans can tune in for live coverage on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and BYUcougars.com. IMG's radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. MDT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage, with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 7 p.m. MDT. Postgame coverage begins after the end of the game.
Friday night's game is the royal game. Players will wear their royal blue alternate jerseys. Fans are also encouraged to wear royal blue.
Last meeting. BYU last played Utah State in Logan, Utah, Oct. 4, 2013. BYU pulled off the win 31-14, extending the Cougars’ current win streak against the Aggies to three.
BYU vs. MW. BYU is 275-161-13 against the Mountain West. In the last game against a MW foe, BYU defeated Nevada 28-23 Nov. 30, 2013 on the road.
Run, Taysom, run. Junior quarterback Taysom Hill averages 107 rushing yards per game, the third-most of all FBS quarterbacks and No. 27 across all positions. His 326.0 yards of total offense per game is good for No. 18.
Strength of schedule. BYU is ranked No. 33 in the nation for strength of schedule. Utah State is No. 89.
10 seasons. Bronco Mendenhall began his 10th season as head coach of the Cougars with the season opener at UConn. Mendenhall has an 86-34 record, and BYU ranks 12th in total wins nationally during his tenure.
Beating the best. Since 2003, BYU has 17 wins against Power 5 schools, which ranks second among non-Power 5 schools behind fellow independent Navy.
Royal treatment. The team will wear its royal blue alternate jerseys for the Utah State game. Fans are encouraged to wear royal blue.
4 for 4. For the fourth week in a row, Hill earned FBS Independent Offensive Player of the Week honors after the Virginia game. Against Virginia, Hill threw two touchdowns, had one rushing touchdown and recorded a 153.51 pass efficiency rating.
We had a really good bye week. We're focused on trying to get better, not losing momentum. I think we were able to heal up a little bit and get better, so I think we had a good Monday practice.
On improved defense as far as playing ball in air and making some tackles:
We put an emphasis on that. I don't think we're as worried as maybe other people were. I think we played pretty well. I think guys were in good spots and like we said, just playing the ball in the air and just making a play on the ball.
Utah State being the only in-state matchup:
To be honest, our opponent--we don't really care. Whoever we play, we play them. We prepare the same, we watch film the same. We don't really care who we're playing. We just try to prepare the same and perform.
On two Utah State QBs:
Obviously both quarterbacks have strengths and something different they bring to the table, but I think we're just kind of preparing either way.
On having more of a rush:
We can only do what we can do. We cover as long as we can, hopefully we give the D-line enough time to get there and at the same time, hopefully they're trying to get there enough to rush the pass out.
Utah State's receivers and running backs:
They're a talented bunch. They have some speed on the outside, they're really good on the perimeter, and I think they do a good job of using their players, using their speed on the edge and trying to get guys into space.
On Jim McMahon's jersey being retired:
Obviously that's really special. Like we say with tradition, spirit and honor here, we really try to honor the guys before us. And I mean, a guy like that, who helped pave the way, that helped give BYU a name--that's really cool. That's really special.
On game against Utah State:
It's going to be a good one. A rivalry game? Not too much. It's just an in-state game to us. It's another opportunity to get better.
On status of knee:
I'm good now. I don't have to wear the knee brace. It feels good.
On Utah State:
Considering only one in-state team will play us this year, it's a huge game. It's probably the featured game in-state. It means a lot. The two teams honor tradition and this particular game matters a lot to both teams and again, Friday night before conference is a great venue.
On Utah State's defense:
I think Utah State has done a nice job defensively the past two or three years. And I think offensively, they're powerful. Matt's done a really nice job. We already know it's going to be a difficult game and volatile game. Utah State is super aggressive defensively and they play hard. So, yeah, it'll be a good test for us.
Does scheming change if Chuckie Keeton is not playing?
Not necessarily. Chuckie's ability to create and his leadership and his experience certainly you have to acknowledge, but really by preparing for him, really anything else besides that you're prepared for.
On inside linebacker spot:
We're even experimenting with playing both (Jherremya Leuta-Douyere and Manoa Pikula) at the same time. They've both done a nice job. The good news is that we have enough linebackers to rotate in and create that competition, and so you might see different combinations coming up.
On cornerback spot:
Jordan (Johnson), Rob (Daniel), (Jordan) Preator and Mike Davis--we're still identifying the best way to manage all that because they're all good players. Some are getting a few too many reps and some aren't quite getting enough so nick's working hard to figure out the best way to rotate that.
On Bronco being age 12 the last time Aggies beat Cougars in Provo:
I think it is, knowing just the games that we've played. There was one I think there was a tipped pass that we caught right at the end and some others that have been really close. So it surprises me.
Was the bye week different than other past bye weeks?
We were a lot more physical and a lot more demanding last week than we probably had been before. This team just seems to want that and can handle that. We have more depth. So I think we practiced harder than we normally do.
On injury updates:
Algie (Brown) and Bronson (Kaufusi) both look significantly different than they had before--better. I didn't notice as much with Nick (Kurtz) and Jordan (Leslie), but the other two looked significantly better today.
On Jim McMahon:
I was really impressed when Jim came back. He spoke to our team. I had the chance to speak with him one-on-one upstairs on the third floor. A lot of times what you hear and what you see, just from afar is one thing, then what you experience up close is something different. I would have loved him to be our quarterback. He's a competitive and natural leader I think.
How Taysom's being perceived nationally:
I think it's growing week by week. Certainly the number of games we've had on national TV has helped and certainly our record is helping. I think as that continues, that'll just grow. It's probably something we've had to manage at a higher level than maybe any other time in our program already, not just because of the start we've had, but with Taysom (Hill).