This was a roller coaster of a weekend for college football in the Beehive State. You were either screaming for joy and putting your hands up in the air, or you were throwing up. That depends on which team you were cheering for. Let’s see how everyone did, starting with the best performance of the week:
Utah Utes: Utah was definitely trying to make a statement in this game. This wasn’t the typical close slug fest we have been privileged to seeing in the Holy War but that doesn’t mean it was without drama. Utah soared to a 30-12 victory where the only things they did wrong were a missed PAT and perhaps a modest showing by Tyler Huntley. That was ok because Tyler didn’t need to be great in the box score that night. He just needed to protect the football and let his star running back Zack Moss go to work and boy did he.
Moss rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown. As a former NFL player with a similar name in the NFL (Randy Moss) would say, “BYU, you just got Mossed!”
I give Utah a near perfect score but not quite perfect because we expected them to eventually flex their muscles on BYU. In past years they have let BYU stay close but ultimately beat them when it was crunch time. This year’s 30-12 game was a blowout compared to previous one possession victories but to be an A+ the Utes would have to pull off another 54-10 game like we saw in 2011. Perhaps the half hour thunderstorm delay prevented a storm of Ute scoring that was starting to happen in the fourth quarter where the Zack Moss touchdown was promptly followed by a pick 6 by Julian Blackmon.
The Utes defense spotted the offense at least two touchdowns with those pick 6 plays so they still leave room for that one guy in the office to start coming up with “moral victories”. That guy you all know in the office or at your family reunion is probably saying right now “Well, what if BYU doesn’t throw 2 interceptions and fumble the ball? There’s your 18 point difference right there!” I don’t know how you could come up with moral victories in a double digit victory but I do know that Utah did what they were supposed to do.
Overall Grade: A-
Utah State Aggies:
The rest of the teams in the state might have lost over the weekend, but none of them looked as impressive as the Aggies. The Aggies were on the road in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, playing a good ACC team in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who have now been bowl eligible for three straight years.
Jordan Love looked like a Heisman candidate for most of the night as he threw for over 400 yards and had 3 touchdowns. The only glaring statistic were his 3 interceptions. You can argue he cost his team the game but let’s pump the brakes on that one. He scored 35 points. The offense did enough to win that game. The defensive line on Utah State held it’s own against an athletic offense but the secondary showed their inexperience as Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman threw for 401 yards of his own.
USU had some athletic plays and showed that, at least offensively, this team will still be an exciting one to watch this year. There was one play where Jordan Nathan hurdled 3 defenders and there was a one handed catch that got the Top Play on SportsCenter even if it didn’t get the Aggies the win. Jordan Love did have some critical interceptions but if he had played a conservative 200 yard game with no interceptions, maybe the Aggies score only 21 points and the game isn’t even close. He only had 6 interceptions a year ago but his running back Darwin Thompson just might be starting for the Kansas City Chiefs this year.
The Aggies might have to make a New Year’s 6 bowl for Jordan Love to still be considered a Heisman candidate. That might be tough with LSU and plenty of tough Mountain West teams on the schedule that have proven they can defeat Power 5 teams. Either way, the 2019 season is here and, in Game 1 the Aggies didn’t live up to the hype but that doesn’t mean this season will be any less successful. Look for the Aggies to learn from this and for their team to gain experience and start producing some wins as the schedule lightens up for the next 3 games before the epic showdown in Baton Rouge.
Overall Grade: B
Weber State’s defense get’s an A+ to the highest order for holding an FBS (Division 1) Mountain West team like San Diego State to only 6 points. The offense, however, gets an F to the highest order for not even getting a field goal off. You’re not going to win many games when you score 0 points or, any games for that matter, unless the other team quits after 20 overtimes. Overall, it is a passing grade. C’s get degrees and they will have much better performances against FCS team.
Overall Grade: C
The Utter Failures: BYU and Southern Utah
I don’t know how I can put these teams in the same category but Southern Utah struggled to defend UNLV who, although an FBS team, is a very underwhelming one. The Thunderbirds lost 23 to 56 in a game that never really was close. Weber State by far remains the premiere FCS team in the State.
BYU was just bad. The Utes weren’t playing their best yet somehow managed to win big by capitalizing off dumb mistakes. BYU had enough talent to make the score closer than this. It should have been a one-possession game. Zach Wilson talked before about being motivated to win a bunch against the Utes but his most impressive play was probably the tackle he made to prevent the Utes from scoring another defensive touchdown after he fumbled on a two point conversion attempt near the end of the game. Two interceptions and 200 yards isn’t going to cut it. At just 200 yards you have to have zero turnovers to keep the score close. The Cougars are going to have to wait another year to attempt to break the Utes’ 9 game winning streak when they visit in Salt Lake City.
Overall Grades: F