BYU WON: All the hype surrounding the return of new Washington State coach Mike Leach to college football did little to stop the tough, physical, Provo-based Cougars from delighting their home crowd with an impressive 24-point win over the Cougars from Pullman. Senior quarterback Riley Nelson was outstanding, throwing for 303 yards and two touchdowns (both to tight end Kaneakua Friel) on 25 of 36 passing, while a BYU defense led by linebacker Uona Kaveinga stifled its opponent all game long. The much-anticipated WSU offensive attack could manage just 224 total yards, including a net of minus four yards on the ground. Jeff Tuel was 30 of 45 for 228 yards for WSU, but he threw two interceptions and was often running for his life in the pocket. BYU piled up 443 total yards and didn't turn the ball over once. The only downside for the hometown Cougars was their 10 penalties for 112 yards. Otherwise, BYU dominated every facet of this game.
WHY BYU WON: It was apparent by the middle of the first quarter that BYU's defense was well prepared to stop Washington State's offense. BYU's aggressive pass rush and sideline-to-sideline pursuit wreaked havoc on WSU's horizontal passing game. BYU tackled well in space, which is an important factor in countering a spread scheme. As a result, Leach's troops never got in a rhythm and were soon making unforced errors. BYU was more than happy to take advantage and pull away.
WHEN BYU WON: WSU was down 24-6 at the half, but Teondray Caldwell returned the third quarter kickoff 65 yards to the BYU 35-yard line and Pullman's Cougars seemed to be on the verge of getting within striking distance of BYU. But then came a sack, followed by a holding penalty and then, two plays later, Jordan Johnson intercepted a Tuel pass and returned it 64 yards to the WSU 9-yard line. Three plays later, Riley Stephenson kicked a 21-yard field goal and the game was as good as over.
WHAT BYU WON: BYU served notice to the college football world that they could be a force to be reckoned with in 2012. The combination of a smashmouth defense and an efficient, cool-headed offense could take the Cougars far. Beating a Pac-12 foe is always good perception-wise, especially a team like WSU that should improve a bunch as the season goes on.
WHAT WSU LOST: It would've been nice to get the Mike Leach Era off to a good start with a big win right out of the box. Beating BYU would've created a lot of positivity and confidence around the program. Remember that WSU hasn't been to a bowl since 2003. It's clear now that it's going to take some time before Leach can get the Cougars where he wants them to be.
THAT WAS CRAZY: This is the first time a Mike Leach-coached team has failed to score a touchdown since a 12-3 loss to TCU back in September of 2006.