No. 12 BYU didn’t have an alibi, or any answers, in its lopsided 41-20 loss to No. 25 Oregon on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from the Cougars’ first loss of the season:
Missed tackles, poor run defense plague BYU
BYU’s missed tackle problem on Saturday became a running commentary during the Fox broadcast of the game.
One week after the Cougar defense was lauded for its effort in containing the Baylor rushing attack, BYU struggled at stopping the Oregon offense until the game was well in hand.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, in particular, caused the Cougars headaches. He accounted for all five of the Ducks’ touchdowns, completing 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, and also running for 35 yards and three short touchdown runs.
The Ducks scored on their first six possessions, including five touchdowns, and ran for 212 yards with a 4.8 per-carry average.
After Oregon went to Nix’s backup for two possessions and the Cougars scored a pair of touchdowns to start the fourth, Nix returned to the game and again marched Oregon downfield on an eight-minute drive to seal the win.
The Ducks converted all three of their fourth-down attempts, including two on a touchdown drive just before halftime to extend their lead to 24-7, a key drive during a stretch when Oregon scored 28 straight points.
The Cougars’ rushing attack was again a liability
BYU was too one-dimensional on offense, as the Cougars rushed for only 61 yards against the Ducks. BYU averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.
That all started with Chris Brooks, the team’s lead back, who picked up just 28 yards on 10 carries. While he scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, Oregon bottled up the BYU rushing attack throughout the day and only gave up one carry longer than 10 yards all game.
One play that encapsulated the Cougars’ running struggles came in the third quarter after they fell behind 31-7.
Trying to build some momentum, BYU went for it on a fourth-and-1 from its own 36 and put the ball in Brooks’ hands. The Ducks stuck him for a 1-yard loss on the carry, and Oregon quickly turned the turnover on downs into a touchdown.
While Oregon and Baylor represent two of the toughest matchups BYU will see this season in the trenches, it’s worrisome for the Cougars with teams such as Notre Dame and Arkansas coming up later in the year.
Oregon started fast and BYU failed to finish
The Ducks outscored the Cougars 24-0 combined in the first and third quarters, setting the tone to start both halves.
It created a situation in which BYU often looked like it was back on its heels, especially on defense.
On Oregon’s first drive, the Ducks had chunk plays of 26 and 36 yards to help set up a 2-yard Nix touchdown run, and Oregon’s second drive was aided by some untimely Cougar penalties — BYU had seven penalties for 64 yards on the day.
Just like that, it was 10-0, and while BYU cut the deficit to 10-7 with an impressive touchdown drive, the Ducks’ offense came through time and again.
To start the second half, the Ducks marched 75 yards in nine plays for a touchdown to go up 31-7. After a BYU turnover on downs in its own territory on the ensuing drive, Oregon needed just four plays to go up 38-7 on Terrance Ferguson’s second touchdown catch.
BYU, meanwhile, struggled finishing drives. Four times, the Cougars moved the ball into Oregon territory without scoring points — that includes three turnovers on downs and a missed field goal.
While Oregon converted all three of its fourth-down attempts, BYU failed to convert any of its four fourth-down attempts. Oregon was clearly the superior team, and forced the Cougars to leave some scoring opportunities on the field.