BYU Cougars

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 20: Defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi #90 of the Brigham Young Cougars gets a piece of a field goal attempt during first half action against the Boise State Broncos on October 20, 2016 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
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Boise State survives five turnovers to beat rival BYU and remain undefeated


Boise State did just about everything they could to give the game away. BYU did their best to take it too.

In the end the Broncos survived a whopping five turnovers and blocked a last second field goal to escape with a 28-27 win over their regional rivals.

Tailback Jeremy McNichols scored on the third play of the game on his way to a 140 yard, one touchdown night on the ground to go along with an impressive 109 yards and a touchdown through the air. Wideout Thomas Sperbeck had 109 yards and a score as well and became the school’s all-time leading receiver while doing so.

Quarterback Brett Rypien put up some big numbers with 442 yards passing and three touchdowns but did throw two pick-sixes as part of a wild second quarter that kept BYU in the game.

That stretch also included a potentially disastrous fake punt from the Cougars own end zone on 4th-and-19. The attempt was stuffed at the goal line but the defense held Boise State to a field goal attempt that was eventually shanked to cause no harm on the scoreboard.

BYU was without the services of tailback Jamaal Williams, who became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week against Mississippi State but was held out with an ankle injury he aggravated during warmups. In his place, Squally Canada ran for 88 yards on 21 carries.

Quarterback Taysom Hill had a rough night passing (21-of-42 for just 187 yards) but nearly rallied his team for a game-winning score with under two minutes left.

The win keeps Boise State undefeated and in the driver’s seat for the lucrative Group of Five bid to a major bowl game at the end of the season. While a loss would not have completely derailed their chances at making to the New Year’s Six, it would have made things interesting given the number of other candidates for the spot.

After a turnover-filled outing and nearly blowing a second half lead for the second week in a row, you can bet that the Broncos will look to regroup over the coming days and get back on track ahead of their trip to Wyoming.

Boise State survives wild second quarter to take halftime lead over BYU

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 20:  Boise State marching band member Nick Lopez howling during a pregame performance prior to the start of the game between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Boise State Broncos on October 20, 2016 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
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A late night game involving regional rivals BYU and Boise State on the blue turf figured to get weird.

That it did early — and often.

The Broncos quickly got out to a two score lead and saw the Cougars storm back in the second quarter on a series of fluke plays. Eventually the home team found some late magic just to hold on and take a 21-17  lead into the locker room at halftime.

Under the radar Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy McNichols jump-started the scoring in the first minute of the game when he raced past a BYU linebacker to score from 76 yards out on a nifty catch and run. Quarterback Brett Rypien followed that up with a quick strike to Thomas Sperbeck on the ensuing drive in a game that looked like they were going to turn into a blowout.

That’s when the wheels started to fall off for Boise State however.

After entering the red zone and threatening to score another touchdown, the Broncos opted to kick a field goal, which was blocked by Dayan Lake and returned by Kai Nacua to midfield. That setup the Cougars’ first score on a field goal and seemed to flip momentum.

On the very next snap for Boise State, Rypien was picked off by BYU safety Fred Warner. He then returned it for a touchdown in one of the most incredible pick-sixes of the season as he tight-roped along the sideline for 59 yards.

Bizarrely, BYU followed that up by running a fake punt on the next possession from their own end zone — on 4th and 19 — and got crushed just steps away from the goal line. Luckily they came away unscathed after Boise State drew a personal foul to back them up 15 yards and then missed an ensuing field goal attempt.

As if that wasn’t enough, Lake then recorded the second pick-six of the ball game off of Rypien on the ensuing drive to give BYU an improbable lead.

Eventually the Broncos offense regrouped (and held onto the ball) as they drove 69 yards in 66 seconds to head to the locker room with a four point lead thanks to long touchdown pass. It was the only positive drive of the second half for the team and might have been something to build on going forward.

Makes you wonder what both teams have in store for the second half though given how many swings of momentum there was in the first.

Houston, BYU, UConn and others release statements on Big 12 non-expansion

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 14: General view of LaVell Edwards Stadium and the field logo before the game between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Brigham Young Cougars on October 14, 2016 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The Big 12 officially announced on Monday evening that the league would not be expanding and will not add any universities to the conference.

The news puts an end to a rather lengthy process that involved nearly every school outside of the Power Five in some form or fashion. As the result of the decision, many of those programs rumored to be on the Big 12’s short list released statements on the matter.

Here’s BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe:

“The announcement by the Big 12 Conference against expansion is not unexpected and is indicative of the volatile world of college athletics administration,” UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement, while also releasing the promotional materials the school used in their pitch to the Big 12. “While I am sure many in our community are nervous about what this means for our future, I am confident that we have put our best foot forward in considerable effort to demonstrate how we currently operate our university and athletics programs at a ‘Power 5’ level and will continue to do so.”

“The Big 12’s decision in no way changes the mission of the University of Houston that began long before there was talk of conference expansion. UH is a diverse Tier One research institution that is on the move,” Cougars president Renu Khator said in a statement. “We remain committed to strengthening our nationally competitive programs in academics and athletics that allow  our student-athletes to compete on a national stage. We are confident that in this competitive athletics landscape, an established program with a history of winning championships and a demonstrated commitment to talent and facilities in the nation’s fourth largest city will find its rightful place. Our destiny belongs to us.”

Even South Florida released a statement on Monday after the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting.

“We are on a path to greatness at USF, reminding everyone in the Bulls Family why we are proud of who we are, how far we have come and what lies ahead,” athletic director Mark Harlan said. “Our student-athletes, coaches, staff, donors, alumni, fans and community members have propelled our program to profound success in recent years in the American Athletic Conference and I am confident that they will continue to do so in the future.”

The news that the Big 12 would not expand is no doubt disappointing for many fans from everywhere from Provo to Storrs to Houston to Tampa.

While administrators had a much more realistic idea of the process and what the eventual outcome was going to be, one thing everybody can agree on is to be thankful that this dog and pony show of Big 12 expansion is finally over.

It’s official: Big 12 unanimously decides not to expand

FILE - In this July 18, 2016, file photo, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addresses attendees during Big 12 media day in Dallas. The Big 12 board of directors meets Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Dallas and the topic of expansion will be addressed.  Not necessarily decided, but definitely addressed. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
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It’s official.

In a “unanimous” decision, the Big 12 Board of Directors announced on Monday that the conference would not be expanding and adding any new schools to the league.

“We decided after a very thorough discussion to remain at 10 members,” Oklahoma president and board chair David Boren said. “We came to the decision that this is not the right time for expansion.”

Among the other highlights from the league’s press conference in Dallas:

  • There was no discussion of any individual schools getting into the conference
  • There was no vote on any schools or any polls of support for any university
  • The process to expand or not is no longer an agenda item being considered by the Big 12. Both Boren and Bowlsby said “never say never” however.
  • There will be no Big 12 Network at the current moment as the result of “market place forces” but it is not being ruled out completely in the future
  • Extending the conference’s grant of rights did not come up in the board’s discussions
  • The process of holding a conference title game moved forward and further details will be handled by the 10 athletic directors
  • There was no talk about the ESPN/Fox television contracts being renegotiated at this time

“I made one recommendation. We should bring this process to closure,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby added. “We shouldn’t kick the can down the road.”

The news no doubt comes as a blow to schools like Houston, BYU and Cincinnati among others who were hoping the Big 12 would expand by two or four schools and they would be able to join the Power Five as a result.

Jamaal Williams breaks BYU’s career rushing record in double-overtime win over Miss. St.

PROVO, UT - OCTOBER 14: Jamaal Williams #21 of the Brigham Young Cougars celebrates with teammate Tanner Balderree #89 of the Brigham Young Cougars after Balderree scored the winning touchdown in the Cougars 28-21 double overtime win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 14, 2016 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Harvey Unga had an up-close and personal look at someone taking his place in history.

Unga is an offensive graduate assistant at BYU.  He also happens to be the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher — or, at least he was.

Entering Friday night’s game against Mississippi State, current Cougar running back Jamaal Williams was 63 yards shy of breaking Unga’s record of 3,455 in a career that came to an unceremonious end after the 2009 season.  In the first overtime of what would turn into a double-overtime win over the Bulldogs, Williams ran for nine yards on a first down carry that also broke Unga’s mark and gave him the title of leading rusher in BYU history.

Williams, who overcame some off-field issues to break Unga’s mark, came into last night’s game second in the nation in rushing, and now has 942 yards on the ground on the season..