Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Blowout Loss Against Iowa State

Nov 12, 2023, 12:00 AM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 3:30 pm

PROVO, Utah – The BYU Cougars found themselves on the losing end for the third straight game after falling to the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Cougars hosted the Cyclones at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah on Friday, September 29.

BYU fell to Iowa State, 45-13.

Where do you go from here?

Saturday night was the game that was supposed to be the one that posed the best opportunity for BYU to sneak an upset and lock up bowl eligibility.

Instead, it finished, as many BYU games have closed out recently, with a blowout.

Where do they go from here? Next up is a visit from the high-powered Oklahoma Sooners, who put up 59 points on a West Virginia team that smoked BYU by 30 last week.

It’s not pretty right now for BYU. They haven’t won a Big 12 game on the road this season. Their regular-season finale is at Oklahoma State. Bowl hopes appear bleak right now.

New low for the BYU defense

It’s hard to remember that BYU had a shutout on defense to open the season. But that looks like it was just a case of facing one of the nation’s worst offenses in Sam Houston.

BYU’s defense has fallen on hard times. They hit a new low on Saturday night, letting Iowa State score 45 points on them in three quarters. An Iowa State team that was 89th in scoring offense coming into the game.

BYU safety Crew Wakley played well; the same goes for Tyler Batty in moments. But when you needed a third down stop in the first half when the game was still in reach, BYU’s defense couldn’t deliver.

The coaching staff has changed, but the same issues plagued this group the previous two years. BYU’s banged up without Ben Bywater, John Nelson, and Caden Haws. However, those losses shouldn’t result in a night where a redshirt freshman tears apart the defense in Provo.

It was another disaster of a performance that hit another low for defensive coordinator Jay Hill and his staff.

Iowa State is going to be a force in the 16-team Big 12

The Cyclones are the youngest team in the Big 12 Conference. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell knew there would be some ups and downs this season with a young roster.

The good news for the Cylones is that they reached six wins in a transition year with youth and turning the page from the gambling scandal in the offseason.

If they can maintain their roster and avoid players dipping to the transfer portal, Iowa State will be in the upper crust of the 16-team Big 12. Campbell is one of the best head coaches in this league and he will continue to be that as long as he remains in Ames.

BYU lost the fourth phase of the game: Equipment

The field conditions at LaVell Edwards Stadium were wet, which caused a lot of slipping for one team. That team was the home squad. BYU players were slipping all over the field. It included Jake Retzlaff falling to the turn in the fourth quarter to cause a turf monster sack.

During the second half, BYU ran a jet sweep play with tight end Ray Paulo and he slipped on a 3rd & 2 inside the red zone. Everywhere you looked, BYU players were falling. That didn’t seem to faze Iowa State players.

It’s one thing to have slippage on a road turf. But at home? Not a good look.

The offense lost all confidence to pass after the INT

The first offensive snap from BYU in the game resulted in an interception from Jake Retzlaff. It was probably the ball game in that moment, as it set the tone for a blowout game.

But what was surprising was that BYU didn’t turn to the pass much after that interception. Once Retzlaff tossed that INT, it was a focus on the ground.

Why abandon the pass for a BYU team near the bottom in every rushing statistic nationally this season? Aidan Robbins broke free for a 36-yard run, but aside from that, there wasn’t much to write home about on the ground.

Retzlaff seemed to have a quick trigger to take off and run as he reached double-digit carries on the night.

BYU abandoned the pass. It didn’t help matters that BYU’s receivers couldn’t create separation against the talented Iowa State secondary. There’s just a myriad of issues everywhere you look with BYU.

Big 12 play has ripped apart the identity of BYU football

Since 2020, the identity of BYU football was explosive plays, physical play in the trenches, and a relentless effort for 60 minutes. Has that been on display since BYU stepped out of its early season bye week? I don’t think so.

Big 12 Conference play has torn down what many believed was the identity of Kalani Sitake’s BYU program. It’s been torn down. They enter the final two weeks of the season with nothing to hang their hat on other than the leg of Ryan Rehkow at punter.

RELATED: Big 12 Announces Kickoff Time, TV Info For BYU’s Game Against Oklahoma

Losing happens. Everyone knew it would with BYU stepping up into the Big 12 Conference. But to get dominated week after week and to not be competitive. That’s shaking the BYU football program to the core and taking away its identity.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Blowout Loss Against Iowa State