PK: No. 12 BYU ‘Smacked Back To Reality’ By No. 25 Oregon

Sep 17, 2022, 5:51 PM
Puddles the mascot of Oregon Ducks cheers during the first half against the Brigham Young Cougars at Autzen Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

EUGENE. Ore. – Smacked back to reality accurately describes the current state of BYU football after the third game of the season.

Potentially vaulting high up the national rankings, fresh off the dramatic win over previously top 10-ranked Baylor, tantalizing visions of achieving even greater heights danced through the collective minds of the Cougars. As they often do, the wake-up call crashed those sweet dreams.

Say goodbye to a possible top 10 ranking and at least another week of staying nationally relevant. At least for the time being, the 12th-ranked Cougars squandered all if it in the 41-20 loss to No. 25 Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium.

While not saying all is lost for the season, which certainly isn’t the case, BYU nevertheless suffered a bitter disappointment during its foray into the northwest. Only the Ducks, whom Georgia walloped by 46 points two weeks ago, stood in the way keeping the Cougars in the conversation all the way through September (assuming, of course, they handled Group of 5 programs Wyoming and Utah State to close out the month).

“I didn’t have the team ready,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “That’s on me.”

To be fair, hurdling the Ducks was not a small mountain to climb. The Georgia beating aside, the Phil Knight-financed program does have some talent.

Obviously, on the one day, Oregon was vastly superior to the over-ranked Cougars. What stings the most is BYU failed to live up to the hype.

There’s no shame in losing on Oregon’s home field. The Ducks now have a 21-game home winning streak and haven’t lost to visiting non-conference opponent in 31 games.

Forget, for one second, Oregon’s debacle to Georgia in relation to BYU. The defending national champion, for whom Oregon coach Dan Lanning served as defensive coordinator last season, is on another level far beyond anything the Pac-12 has to offer.

But, come on, there’s no excuse for BYU to get throttled. Really, what the Duck?

The hard part stems from picking the worst aspect of the game for BYU. Rather than pick apart one faction, probably the fairest thing to do is split the vote three ways.

Yup, grading on a curve, it was a dead heat among the offense, defense, and special teams.

“Everything has to be evaluated for us,” Sitake said.

The defense was an abomination in every which way. Not once, when the game mattered, did BYU put up any resistance against Oregon’s offense.

Oh, sure, in defense of the defense, BYU was without two injured starting linemen. But unless Tyler Batty and Earl Tuioti-Mariner were a combination of Mean Joe Greene and Merlin Olsen, their presence would not have made enough of a difference.

BYU’s ineptness up front was best illustrated by the first play of the second half. Seemingly pinned in at the line of scrimmage, Oregon running back Bucky Irving somehow managed to escape several would-be tacklers to scamper for an 11-yard gain.

We’re talking Bucky (bleepin’) Irving here. Wrap up, already.

The BYU offense had moments of respectability, moving the ball through the air with some degree of success without injured starting receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney. But for the second consecutive game, the Cougars mustered virtually nothing on the ground.

The lack of a running game, which netted only 61 yards, is especially concerning for a team supposed to have NFL along the line. A one-dimensional offense would lead to another nobody-cares bowl game, no doubt.

As far as the special teams, BYU has a problem that needs a quick solution. Kicker Jake Oldroyd is mired in a slump, there’s no other way to say it.

After missing two makable field goals that would have clinched BYU’s win over Baylor, Oldroyd did not convert on a 38-yard attempt in the first half that would have cut the deficit to seven points.

But his miscues are low on the priority. Right now, the entire BYU team needs a hug.

“Chin up, chest out,” said linebacker Ben Bywater, formulating the mindset going forward.

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PK: No. 12 BYU ‘Smacked Back To Reality’ By No. 25 Oregon