What was supposed to be a memorable night honoring BYU legend Jim McMahon turned sour in a hurry late in the first half. Utah State (3-2) scored 21 points in the final five minutes of the first half and No. 18 BYU (4-1) lost quarterback Taysom Hill for the rest of the season to a broken leg suffered just before halftime. Utah State snapped BYU’s big bowl dreams with a 35-20 victory in Provo Friday night.
Hill was looking like a Heisman candidate, offering the same sort of season Northern Illinois had seen with Jordan Lynch in recent seasons. Hill suffered the injury when attempting to roll out to the sideline on a second-and-long. His leg was rolled on in a tackle attempt by Utah State’s Brian Suite. The irony of the injury was it was Suite who was involved in a play that ended Hill’s 2012 season as well.
After the game BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill will undergo surgery today. It is expected to take three or four months for Hill to recover from the injury, meaning we have seen the last of Hill on the football field this season.
Utah State was already taking control of the game when Hill went down. The Aggies had just tied the game at 14-14 late in the first half when a botched exchange between Hill and BYU running back Jamaal Williams was recovered by Utah State on BYU’s first play from scrimmage of the ensuing possession. The Aggies went right for the end zone with a 22-yard pass from Darell Garretson to Devonte Robinson for a 21-14 lead. BYU’s next drive lost momentum when Hill was taken off the field with the injury. The Cougars punted and Utah State took over for one last possession starting from their 13-yard line, but on first down from the 28-yard line Garretson launched a deep pass down the right sideline to Hunter Sharp, who took it 72 yards for a touchdown, giving Utah State a commanding, and deflating 28-14 into the half. This all happened in a span of three and a half minutes, but it must have felt like an eternity for BYU.
Utah State, now without their star quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the remainder of the year, scored a major victory for the program. This was not a conference game, but the Aggies won their first game on the road this season and now look to have some confidence to move through Mountain West Conference play moving forward. Last year Utah State advanced to the conference championship game without Keeton, and if Friday night was any indication, these Aggies have what it takes to make a return trip to the conference championship game again.
BYU’s bowl picture is pretty simple. The Cougars are locked into a trip to the Miami Beach Bowl as long as they qualify for bowl eligibility. BYU only needs two more wins to become bowl eligible, which still should be a lock even without Hill. But the season started off so strong for BYU and the Cougars were making a case to be considered for a New Years Bowl slot if things continued to develop the way it seemed they could. BYU likely needed to run the table for that to be the case though, which means BYU will likely be sticking with the Miami Beach Bowl.