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Boise, Idaho • This might not be rock bottom for the BYU Cougars' once-promising football season (remember that, anyone?), but they can probably see it from here.
Certainly, it would be hard to imagine anything more devastating to a defense affiliated with coach Bronco Mendenhall than what occurred on the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium on Friday night.
Enough to send the defensive-minded coach to the market for a new defensive coordinator? Probably not, but Boise State's 55-30 romp in front of 36,752 fans and a national television audience made one thing clear: BYU's defense is worse than spoiled milk.
And its offense isn't much better - at least on this 60-degree night in potato country.
Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick, who could do virtually nothing last year in BYU's 37-20 rout of BSU in Provo, played like that other famous Bronco quarterback, Peyton Manning. Of course, most quarterbacks facing the Cougars' defense have looked like Hall of Famers this season as well.
Hedrick completed 24 of 31 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns as BSU's offense sliced and diced the Cougars in every which way it wanted. Boise State had 639 total yards, moving the ball even when coach Bryan Harsin replaced Hedrick in the fourth quarter.
The score could also have looked worse for the Cougars if freshman linebacker Fred Warner hadn't returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. The beatdown ties the most points BYU has given up in Mendenhall's 10 years, matching the 55 Tulsa put on it in 2007.
Christian Stewart completed 23 of 38 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a touchdown in his third start since replacing Taysom Hill. It wasn't nearly enough.
BYU's defense had struggled in the past four games, but this performance was epic in its futility from the opening kickoff to garbage time.
Boise State rolled up 429 yards in the first half, cruising to a 41-16 advantage at the break. Hedrick was 16 of 19 for 329 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, posting an amazing passer efficiency rating of 281.8.
The Cougars simply had no answers for BSU's offensive wizardry in the first half, and they compounded the embarrassment with a couple of turnovers, including a muffed punt by Mitchell Juergens that led to 25-yard field goal and a late interception thrown by Stewart to end a streak of 110 passes without one.
That pick came with 54 seconds left in the half and after BYU was pinned on its own 15. The wise approach there probably would have been to run out the clock. Instead, BSU quickly went 24 yards in two plays to take the 25-point lead at the break.
Jamaal Williams did not start for BYU, but when he entered the game for the first time in the second quarter, he provided an immediate spark. Williams' 17-yard touchdown run cut BSU's lead to 20-7. Williams finished with 70 yards on 16 attempts.
But the Cougars were helpless when a stop there might have slowed BSU's momentum. Shane Williams-Rhodes scored on a 49-yard reverse pass to make it 27-7 just one minute, seven seconds after BYU's first score.
BYU's Colby Pearson grew up attending BSU games from nearby Blackfoot, Idaho, and he made himself a nice memory in the second quarter, catching an 81-yard touchdown pass from Stewart to trim the deficit to 27-14.
Once again, though, the Cougars gave up another long touchdown drive. BSU's Jay Ajayi capped a 77-yard drive with a 3-yard run.
The Cougars did have one defensive highlight in the first half; Logan Taele tackled Ajayi in the end zone for a safety to make it 34-16, but Darian Thompson's interception after a personal foul penalty had BYU going backwards ended that little run, and set up BSU's sixth first-half touchdown.
Gordon Monson • Three words for the Cougars: stop the hemorrhaging. BYU was woefully unsuccessful at that task on Friday. > C5
• Two years after a great performance in a 7-6 loss to Boise State, the BYU defense falters badly. > C5