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UPDATE: At 12:45 a.m., BYU spokesperson Brett Pyne just confirmed that injured Cougar quarterback Riley Nelson will not play next Saturday against New Mexico State.
ALSO: Reporters were told before the game that former BYU tight end Itula Mili would carry the alumni flag onto the field before the game. However, a few minutes before Mili was to carry the flag, it was decided that former BYU quarterback Max Hall would do the honors, and Hall did indeed carry the alumni flag out. A report in an online Tribune story incorrectly said it was Mili.
The Cougars crushed Idaho 42-7 here at LaVell Edwards Stadium tonight in front of 57,770 fans who braved frigid temperatures to see BYU improve to 7-3, but the big question after the contest revolved around the status of quarterback Riley Nelson. Nelson left the game after throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman in the first quarter and was taken to a nearby hospital for x-rays. After the game, a BYU spokeperson said Nelson will remain in the hospital overnight with a fractured rib and a "small pneumothorax" in his lung. A quick check of medical websites revealed that a pneumothorax is something akin to a collapsed lung, but is usually not as serious as it sounds. A member of Idaho's staff said in the pressbox that the Vandals had a player sustain a similar injury and the player was able to play the next week. But Nelson will not play, the school announced early Sunday morning. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said in his postgame news conference that he doesn't know yet how long Nelson will be out. Whatever the case, Jake Heaps filled in admirably, and played well enough in relief to show that he can probably get the job done next week against New Mexico State, if he has to. Mendenhall acknowledged that Heaps played well, managed the game well, and made good decisions. But he said if Nelson is able to play, he will remain the starter. Nelson was 4 of 7 for 56 yards and a touchdown. Heaps was 15 of 20 for 185 yards and two TDs with one interception. James Lark played the latter part of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter and was 2 of 6 for 21 yards. Nelson rushed for 11 yards and Lark for 12. The mystery of who would be the punter was solved late in the third quarter when Riley Stephenson jogged out on the field. He had two boots, and the snaps on both were pure. Couple of other notes from the game, which was pretty much over by halftime: * Sophomore Kyle Van Noy had 10 tackles, a career-high, including nine solo stops. He also had a sack and forced a fumble. * JJ Di Luigi moved into 11th place on BYU's career rushing list with 42 yards and now has 1,670. He's 284 yards behind Brian McKenzie. * The Cougars are now 7-1 after bye weeks under Mendenhall. * Cody Hoffman had another great time, making six catches for 114 yards and two TDs. * Mike Alisa rushed 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown (38 yards) after a slow start. * The Cougars were 9 of 13 on third-down conversions. Remember how Idaho coach Robb Akey said the Cougars weren't at the level of Idaho's other two big-name nonconference opponents, Virginia and Texas A&M, last summer? The Vandals lost to Virginia 21-20 in overtime and Texas A&M 37-7 on Sept. 17. "BYU played very well today," Akey said. "We did a bad job stopping the run and offensively we did a poor job of executing things. We need to be more effective running the ball and we need to be more effective in the passing game ... We are going to come back and play our tails off against Utah State." Later, Akey said, "BYU is a good football team and they played a good game." Regarding BYU's quarterback switcheroo, Akey said: "It was obvious that he was their starter [Nelson] but we also saw a lot of Heaps and we didn't ignore that as we were preparing for this game. That wasn't what hurt us though. What hurt us the most was our lack of ability to stop the run and that's something we have done well in the past. We had been a pretty good third-down defense the last few weeks but the numbers were pretty pathetic tonight."