BYU’s Win Over Houston Enough To Keep Hype Rolling


Sep 11, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) before the game against the Houston Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It was ugly. BYU had a 23-0 lead and in a matter of a few minutes at the end of the second half it was down to just an eight point lead. Taysom Hill threw an interception that was batted down at the line and intercepted off the deflection. Mitchell Juergens tried to gain a couple of extra yards in the waning seconds of the first half instead of stepping out of bounds and had the ball stripped which led to a long Hail Mary pass from John O’Korn to Daniel Spencer in the end zone. Just like that, Houston was back in the game.

In the second half BYU didn’t come out with life. The offense looked flat. The defense played well, but couldn’t force a turnover. Anyone who watched the game turned off the TV or left the stadium and was a little disappointed. In my conversations with BYU fans today and interaction with fans on Twitter it is very clear that people are concerned that this team just derailed their chances of anything but the Miami Beach Bowl in December.

Well, everyone, I’m here to tell you it wasn’t that bad.

BYU didn’t cover the spread, they gave up a big lead and they only won the game by eight. But the win was still impressive to many across the nation and it didn’t damage BYU’s chances of a New Year’s Day bowl. (I am not acknowledging the chances of getting into the four-team playoff. That isn’t happening this year, sorry.)


Let’s take a look at a few teams that have “busted the BCS in the past.” In 2008, a very talented Utah team made it to the Sugar Bowl and took it to Alabama. (If you live in Utah, you know this because you hear about it daily.) That team was incredibly talented. Before the Sugar Bowl, Utah beat an unranked Air Force team by just a touchdown, unranked New Mexico by just a field goal and had two very close calls against Michigan and Oregon State. It’s not fair to compare Oregon State or Michigan of 2008 to Houston of 2014, but it is fair to say that Houston is on-par or better than New Mexico or Air Force of that year. Utah didn’t dominate, but they won. At the end of the year they had 12 wins and that’s all that mattered.

Oct 19, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

In 2010, a TCU team that later won the Rose Bowl barely squeaked by an average-good San Diego State team by five points.

In 2006, Boise State went on to win the Fiesta Bowl after beating a bad San Jose State team by just a field goal.

In 2007, a Hawaii team made it to the Sugar Bowl after needing overtime to beat Louisiana Tech by a point, needed overtime to beat San Jose State by a touchdown and beat Nevada by just two points.

Why does all of this matter? Because style points aren’t nearly as important as people think that they are. Style points might matter if BYU had a realistic shot at the four-team playoff, but they don’t. For a shot at the Fiesta Bowl, however, BYU just needs to go undefeated and be ranked in the top 10. If they’re undefeated, I’m confident that will happen. And if not, a 30 points victory over Houston wouldn’t have changed that. If BYU doesn’t get an invite to a New Year’s bowl game, it won’t be because of an eight point win over Houston, it will be because they played Houston.

Why I’m confident

Taysom Hill has a unique name and a unique skillset. He puts up big numbers and has big games on a regular basis. He might not play in the SEC or the PAC-12, but he will put up some ridiculous numbers throughout the course of the year. Because BYU waxed Texas on national TV last week and Hill played well, ESPN is going to follow that story until it’s not a story anymore. As long as BYU is unbeaten, it will still be a story, regardless of how many points BYU wins by.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following tweets that are quotes, pictures and screenshots of what has been on ESPN throughout the course of the day today; after the “less-than-impressive win” over Houston last night.

BYU is going to be a story on ESPN until they have a loss. Taysom Hill is going to put up ridiculous numbers all year long and ESPN is going to continue to mention his name as a Heisman candidate. (I don’t think he wins, I don’t think he has a chance to win, but as long as he has crazy numbers he’ll be mentioned.) As long as Hill is healthy and BYU is winning they will keep making headlines much like the headlines above regardless of eight point wins or fifty point wins.

Seriously, Hill had a “bad game” yesterday but if you didn’t watch it all you see is 21/34 (62%) for 200 yards and a touchdown to go with 160 rushing yards and another touchdown. 360 total yards and a pair of touchdowns looks awfully good in a box score.

The need for an underdog

Sep 11, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars cheerleaders before the game against the Houston Cougars at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

BYU is an underdog, no doubt. They aren’t supposed to even be in consideration for a New Year’s bowl. But people love an underdog story. Look at every sports movie in history; Rudy- the underdog kid that wasn’t good enough, Remember the Titans- the underdog team with off the field stuff, The Sandlot- the story with the dorky kid that can’t play baseball. People love underdogs.

Let’s look at some of the traditional underdogs in college football.

Fresno State: two losses.

Boise State: one loss.

UCF: one loss.

TCU and Utah: received the sacred invite to join the big boys table.

BYU: unbeaten with a Heisman-hopeful and a whole bunch of games on national TV.

This team has a realistic chance if they can winning. People need an underdog and BYU is proving to be just that. Not every win is going to be a blowout, but as history shows, that isn’t required to “bust the system.” The hype train is going to keep rolling as long as BYU keeps winning, whether that’s by eight points or by 100 points.