This in-state rivalry just ain't what it used to be.
Friday night at Cougar Stadium, BYU mauled Utah State, 38-10, marking the ninth-straight time the Cougars have won this annual affair. It also increased the Cougs' margin of victory in Aggie coach Chuck Shelton's six-year tenure to a lopsided (255-57).This game was so well in hand that BYU coach LaVell Edwards pulled quarterback Ty Detmer, fullback Peter Tuipulotu and many other starters with nearly four minutes left in the third quarter.
Detmer was on-target for the second week in a row, showing the form that earned him a Heisman Trophy. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 329 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
And Tuipulotu celebrated a return to the fullback position by having a career receiving game, making nine catches for 184 yards. Eight of those catches and 154 of those receiving yards came in the first half, when it appeared the Aggie coaches had neglected to assign anyone to cover Tuipulotu. Everybody covered? No problem. Just dump it off to Tuipulotu for a first down, something that happened four times just in the first half.
"Coach (Roger) French told us before the game tonight the difference would be the backs," Tuipulotu said. "Ty kind of has a feel for where I'm at, and when I'm open he gets me the ball."
And while Detmer and Tuipulotu were providing just about all the offense BYU needed, the defense was turning in its second outstanding performance in a row, holding the Aggies to 281 yards total offense. It also marked the second straight game in which BYU has not been scored on until the fourth quarter, when the subs were on the field.
"The way we look at it, the BYU first team hasn't been scored on in two games," said nose guard Lenny Gomes. "We had a shutout tonight."
But while the defense was tough from the start, it did take the BYU offense some time to get rolling, at least when it got close to the USU end zone. The Cougs got inside the Aggie 20-yard line on their first two drives but came away with just three points.
The first quarter ended with BYU ahead just 3-0 but driving for its first touchdown. Four plays later, Detmer faked a handoff to the right side, then ran left and into the corner of the end zone. After stepping across the goal line he was pushed by the Aggies' Ron Edwards, causing Detmer to carom off a couple of innocent bystanders. Detmer turned and chucked the ball at Edwards and had to be restrained by a teammate from further discussion with the Aggie defensive back.
BYU's next scoring drive consisted largely of 50 yards gained by Tuipulotu and 17 by freshman Jamal Willis, who looks like the Cougs' best sweep threat in a long time. The drive ended with a 10-yard TD pass to Tyler Anderson - his first TD catch in three years - to make it 17-0.
The Cougars got the ball back with 2:20 left to play in the half and still managed to score, despite a dropped TD pass by Anderson and a severe case of leg cramps suffered by Willis. The key play: You guessed it, a 48-yard pass to Tuipulotu, who wasn't the primary receiver on the play. The drive ended on a two-yard scoring pass to fullback Brad Clark that made it 24-0.
If you've noticed that not much has been said about Utah State's offense in the first half, it's because there isn't much to say. Not counting punts, the five Aggie possessions in the half totaled 25 plays. The longest gain was a 14-yard pass from quarterback Ron Lopez to wide receiver Rod Moore.
The Aggies made a little noise in the third quarter, but even when they did things right, things went wrong. They went for, and got, a first down on fourth and one at the BYU 47 on their first possession, but two plays later Grant fumbled the ball away to BYU and broke his finger, taking him out of the game.
The Aggies got close to the end zone again on a reverse to Moore that reached the BYU eight-yard line, but a Utah State coach was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for complaining that Moore had been the subject of a late hit. That pushed the Aggies back to the 23, and a six-yard sack later Doug Beach was called in to attempt a 46-yard field goal. It fell short, like most of the Aggies' efforts. Even Utah State's lone score needed a helpful call from an official. The Aggies had the ball midway through the fourth quarter when Floyd Foreman appeared to fumble at the USU 31-yard line. As the Cougar defense and Aggie offense left the field, however, one official ruled that Foreman was down before fumbling - a view not entirely supported by replay. Seven plays later, Lopez hit Moore on a 35-yard scoring strike, against BYU's second-team defense.
After a BYU fumble by Clark half a minute later, Beach booted a 32-yard field goal that concluded the Aggie scoring.
BYU, meanwhile, had tacked on a one-yard TD dive by Tuipulotu in the third quarter and a five-yard scoring run by backup fullback Mark Atuaia to conclude its scoring. Atuaia, incidentally, led both teams in rushing with 94 yards.
Edwards kept the game interesting after Detmer left by inserting freshman quarterback John Walsh into the game. Walsh drilled his first pass for a nine-yard gain to freshman tight end Itula Mili, then drilled his next pass to Aggie linebacker Del Lyles. So much for that pass-efficiency rating.
Walsh was more efficient on BYU's next possession, driving the team 54 yards in seven plays for the final TD. For the game, he completed five of eight for 52 yards.
BYU now returns to WAC play for good, with games against conference opponents each of the next seven weeks. Next Saturday's foe here at Cougar Stadium is UTEP, a team that recently surprised Wyoming by tying the Cowboys in Laramie.
If the way BYU has played the last two weeks is any indication, however, UTEP will have a tough time pulling any surprises in Provo.