September 16, 2017
Powerful linemen, great blocking, explosive running, precise passing to open receivers, aggressive defense, force multiple turnovers and turn them into points.
From all reports, that is the team BYU wants to become.
The Cougars got another first-hand view of just what that looks like Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium as No. 10/12 Wisconsin steamrolled them in all facets of the game on its way to the 40-6 victory.
“Wisconsin is a great team and you can see why they are highly ranked,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “If I were to put the game into words, I thought we were overwhelmed as a group. I thought they did a good job keeping us from getting anything going. They possessed the ball and played some great defense.”
What does elite offensive line play look like?
The Badger linemen consistently got to the second level and often pushed the Cougar defensive front four or five yards downfield as the visitors racked up 235 yards rushing.
How about elite passing precision?
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed 18-of-19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. His only incompletion was on target but Cougar junior middle linebacker Butch Pau’u was able to knock it away.
If you want to see solid, aggressive defense, look at how the Badgers held BYU to 192 total yards and kept the Cougars out of the end zone.
The final example of exceptional football came in the way that Wisconsin forced two interceptions and a safety, resulting in 12 points off of turnovers.
“We wanted to see how we measure up and obviously there is the answer,” Sitake said. “That was a good clinic of what we want to be and what it takes.”
He said that depth was another area where there was a marked difference between the two programs.
“We had some guys go down early, and we rely on our depth to come in and provide some help,” Sitake said. “That wasn’t happening. They, on the other hand, lose a couple of offensive linemen and they just kept replacing them. Their depth is really nice. That’s a really well-run team.”
For BYU, it turned out to be the second time in three games that the Cougars were completely outclassed across the board.
“I thought we played better defense against LSU,” Sitake said. “We got what, eight more plays. It is difficult to win games when you are getting under 200 yards of production and you aren’t getting in the end zone. Then when our defense isn’t playing great, there is the result.”
The lone bright spot of the game for the home team came in the first quarter.
After an interception on BYU’s first drive, the Cougar defense stood tall in the red zone and forced Wisconsin to kick a field goal.
On the ensuing possession, BYU put together a 14-play, 61-yard drive — 11 of which were rushing plays — and marched deep in Badger territory.
Cougar junior kicker Rhett Almond made the 31-yard field goal and the game was tied with 2:47 left in the opening quarter.
Things went downhill for BYU from that point.
Wisconsin scored touchdowns on four of its next five possessions, and the Cougars could only manage a field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
The Badgers added a fourth-quarter touchdown, then forced a safety when BYU sophomore quarterback Beau Hoge got the ball knocked out of his hands in the end zone.
The Cougars now head into a bye week needing to improve quickly and make changes or they could be in for a long season.
“We’ve got a long ways to go and a lot of the season left to play,” Sitake said. “We’ll take advantage of the bye week and try to figure things out, try to help ourselves win games.”
But he doesn’t regret facing an elite opponent, even if the result was disappointing.
“If we want to be as good as these great teams, then we need to play them,” Sitake said.