For the first two quarters Saturday night, No. 11 BYU looked every bit as dominant against Western Kentucky as its lofty ranking would suggest the Cougars would be in an eventual 41-10 win.

That was more than enough to ensure victory for BYU against a mistake-prone Hilltoppers team at LaVell Edwards Stadium, yet the way the game ended left something to be desired for the Cougars, who moved to 7-0 on the season.

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It wasn’t Zach Wilson’s most accurate game of the season — he finished 18 of 32 for 224 yards and three touchdowns with a rare interception — but the junior quarterback looked as poised and as confident as ever in again leading a successful passing attack. He did most of his damage in the first half, throwing for 203 yards and three touchdowns in the opening two quarters while also rushing for 35 yards and another score as BYU raced to a 35-3 halftime lead.

The Cougars scored a touchdown on every one of their first-half possessions, rolling up 312 yards of total offense through the break with four scoring drives of 75 yards or longer.

The second half was quite different, however, as BYU put up just 98 yards on 27 plays after having 44 offensive snaps in the first half. It was the first time all season BYU didn’t score a touchdown in a half, as the Cougars added two field goals in the second half and were outscored 7-6 after the break — the Hilltoppers’ touchdown came after Wilson threw his first interception since the season opener, and the quarterback gave way to backup Baylor Romney in the fourth quarter.

BYU’s 410 yards of total offense was a season low, and Wilson’s pass efficiency rating of 139.7 was only the second time he has been under 200 this season (177.1 against UTSA was the other). Despite this, the Cougars showed plenty of flashes against Western Kentucky of the efficiency that has BYU’s offense among the tops in the nation this year.

Running back Tyler Allgeier had another standout game, rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries — he had a long TD run in the third called back on a penalty — and receiver Dax Milne scored for a third straight game (he had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown) while Gunner Romney caught five passes for 59 yards after missing last week with an injury.

There were some hiccups for BYU’s offense on Saturday night, and if the grade was based on just the first half, it would be an A. Still, the Cougars managed to score on seven of their nine possessions, were 7 of 13 on third down and had just one three-and-out late when the reserves had taken over.

Grade: B


The highlight of the night for BYU’s defense came more than halfway through the third quarter, when the Cougars held on four straight plays from the 1-yard line to deny Western Kentucky’s bid to score a touchdown. After stuffing a run for no gain on first-and-goal, BYU thwarted two pass attempts in a row before again holding a rush attempt from Gaej Walker for no gain on fourth down.

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It was an emphatic end to a series where the Hilltoppers chewed up more than 10 minutes of game clock while running 20 plays and gaining 86 yards on the first possession of the second half. Western Kentucky converted two third downs on the drive and quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome scrambled for 23 yards to the BYU 1 on a fourth-down play.

Not long after the goal-line stand, the Cougars did give up Western Kentucky’s only touchdown of the game, when Dionte Ruffin intercepted Wilson and returned the pick to the BYU 3, setting up a one-play scoring drive on a 3-yard touchdown to Joshua Simon.

Overall, it was another good night for the defense, as BYU held its fourth opponent in seven games under 300 yards of total offense — Western Kentucky had 262 yards, and only 100 in the first half. Linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi led the Cougars with nine tackles, and he forced and recovered a fumble in Hilltoppers territory that led to BYU’s third touchdown.

The Cougars held Pigrome to just 106 yards passing and also had a pair of sacks in the game — Bracken El-Bakri had one, while Drew Jensen and Uriah Leiataua combined for the other — and again BYU went deep into its depth, as more than 20 defenders had tackles in the game.

There were still things to fine tune for BYU’s defense at the end of the night, though. Western Kentucky converted 6 of 13 third-down attempts and held the ball for more than 33 minutes, including three drives of 12-plus plays, though the Cougars gave up just three points on those three drives combined.

Grade: B

Special teams

Jake Oldroyd was the most visible part of the Cougars’ special teams against the Hilltoppers, as the third facet of the BYU team wasn’t overly relied upon in another blowout.

Oldroyd kept his streak alive of making every field goal he’s attempted this season, hitting a 49-yarder and a 45-yarder in the second half to move to 8-for-8 on the season. That streak appeared to end in the final moments of the third quarter when Oldroyd missed a 54-yard attempt, but it was wiped out when Western Kentucky was called for a running-into-the-kicker penalty, and that set up the shorter 49-yard make.

Highlights, key plays and photos from BYU’s 41-10 win over Western Kentucky

The kicker also successfully connected on every point-after attempt against the Hilltoppers and is now 36 of 36 on PATs this season. More importantly, Oldroyd’s fifth made point-after attempt in the first half was his 71st straight make, breaking the old school record of 70 set by Justin Sorensen.

BYU punter Ryan Rehkow was called on just once, and he delivered a 42-yard punt in the fourth quarter. The return game was a non-factor for both teams.

Grade: B+


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In a season that’s becoming full of lopsided wins, the Cougars again overwhelmed their opponent, and Western Kentucky — normally a disciplined team that isn’t called for a lot of penalties — didn’t help itself at times while getting called for 10 penalties for 96 yards.

BYU left some room for improvement — the Cougars gave up 156 rushing yards, the most they’ve given up all year. They did, however, score on all four red-zone trips Saturday night, including three touchdowns, and have now scored on 12 straight red-zone possessions.

The Cougars will need to refine the little things, though, as they face their toughest test this season when they play at nationally ranked Boise State next Friday night.

Grade: B

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