3 takeaways (like those killer turnovers to start) from BYU’s blowout loss to Iowa State
The Cougars were embarrassed again, this time at home by a far superior Cyclones squad
BYU’s road woes of the past few weeks extended to the home field on Saturday night, as the Cougars lost 45-13 to Iowa State at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from a loss that dropped BYU to 5-5 on the season and 2-5 in Big 12 play.
BYU takes its bad starts to a new level
The Cougars dug themselves into a deep hole early yet again — a common theme this season, and particularly the past month.
Jake Retzlaff threw an interception on the game’s first play, setting up Iowa State with the ball inside the Cougars 30. Three plays later, the Cyclones’ Jaylin Noel scored on a 4-yard pass.
On the ensuing kickoff, backup tight end Ray Paulo fumbled and Iowa State recovered at the BYU 17-yard line. That led to a field goal and a 10-0 deficit three and a half minutes into the game.
Yes, BYU responded with a rare touchdown to make it 10-7, but another inauspicious start doomed any positive vibes for the moribund Cougars.
Third-down issues haunt defense again
Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht and the Cyclones offense made it a rocky night of horrors for the BYU defense.
The Cougars entered the contest allowing opposing teams to convert third downs 43.4% of the time, ranked 102th nationally.
The Cyclones — who had 443 yards of total offense — outdid that percentage, converting 8 of 14 third downs in the game, including 6 of 8 in the first half.
When BYU was still within 10 points in the second quarter, Iowa State converted third-down attempts of 5, 9 and 10 yards on a touchdown-scoring drive to make it a three-score game.
On the Cyclones’ next drive, they converted two third downs (both under 5 yards to go for the first down) en route to another touchdown to build a 31-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, BYU also gave up a 66-yard touchdown pass to Noel on a third-and-1 play moments after the Cougars scored to make it a 31-13 game.
Offense isn’t any better with a QB switch
BYU rates as one of the nation’s worst offenses this season, and Saturday night’s effort won’t do much to inspire any more confidence in that side of the ball.
The Cougars put up 318 yards of total offense, though many of those yards came when the game was well in hand.
Sadly, that is the third-highest offensive yardage total BYU had put up in a game this season — an indictment on a 13-point night.
Retzlaff, starting his second straight game, threw for just 6 yards in the first half — BYU had 97 total yards at halftime. While the new starter ran for a team-high 64 yards, he completed just 10 of 27 passes for 104 yards and two interceptions with one touchdown.
BYU briefly showed some offensive creativity in the second half — including a wide receiver pass for a touchdown in the third quarter — but it was not nearly enough.
The Cougars converted just 1 of 11 third downs.
BYU’s last promising drive — late in the third quarter — also ended up in no points.
On that possession, Retzlaff threw short of the sticks on a fourth-and-3 inside the Iowa State 5 after a jet sweep on third down lost yards when a backup tight end slipped — the umpteenth time a Cougar slipped and fallen on the home field.
BYU will host Oklahoma next week. The No. 17 Sooners blitzed West Virginia 59-20 on Saturday.
Yes, the same Mountaineers team that beat the Cougars 37-7 last week.
After that is a road game at Oklahoma State — and a good time to remind BYU fans that the Cougars have lost their four road Big 12 games by an average of 25.8 points.
Bowl eligibility is still technically possible, but unlikely, considering the upcoming competition and how poorly the Cougars have played since early October.