MEMPHIS, Tenn. — BYU's 2001 football odyssey opened on a sweltering August afternoon in Provo with the Cougars scoring 10 touchdowns and 70 points against a Conference USA team, Tulane. It ended here on a frigid afternoon Dec. 31 at the Liberty Bowl, where the once-mighty BYU offense could manage only one touchdown — by an offensive lineman — and a field goal against the C-USA champions, Louisville.
The No. 19 Cougars lost to the No. 23 Cardinals, 28-10, before an announced crowd of 58,968. It marked its third consecutive bowl loss and its second consecutive defeat of the year, after posting 12 straight wins.
The Cougars, boasting the nation's highest-scoring offense of 46 points per game, were without their All-American running back, Luke Staley, and they looked almost powerless without him. BYU gained only 84 yards on the ground. The Cougars' top pass-catcher, Reno Mahe, played only one half after it became clear he could barely run on his ailing knee.