BYU accomplished what only half a season ago seemed nearly impossible: they became bowl eligible. The Cougars’ 40-7 thumping of the New Mexico Lobos was the last in a string of impressive wins over the lower tier of the Mountain West Conference. Here’s a look at how the game went.
Jake Heaps and the Receivers. Heaps was 18 for 32, with 231 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also managed a touchdown on the ground, a result of two consecutive QB runs near the goal-line. Perhaps many were expecting Luke Ashworth to be the go-to guy again, but Saturday’s flashy target was Cody Hoffman, who caught 5 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Ten different BYU receivers had catches during the game.
Special Teams. With his two field goals, Mitch Payne quietly passed his brother for second place on BYU’s all-time scoring list, with 316 now to Matt’s 312. The only one higher? Owen Pochman, who is sitting at 333. Stats from http://www.CougarStats.com (@CougarStats). Mitch now has two more games to come up with the 18 points necessary to take the lead.
The Rush Attack. JJ DiLuigi, Bryan Kariya, and Josh Quezada once again led the Cougars in rushing, as BYU put up 258 rushing yards. The three posted totals of 65, 58, and 107 yards, respectively. DiLuigi and Quezada each scored a touchdown as well.
Bronco D. It’s hard for your defense to not look good against a team like New Mexico, but Bronco’s defense held the Lobos to 100 yards rushing, 159 yards passing, and to just 7 total points. Each of those is below New Mexico’s average. BYU is now ranked 39th in the nation in scoring defense, at 21.8 points per game. Knowing that those stats are skewed by BYU’s 1-4 start, this BroncoD has played lights-out over the last 6 games.
What we know about New Mexico
New Mexico is now (1-10) on the year, and will finish at (1-11) as they will end the season playing host to TCU next week. The Lobos are monopolizing the bottom of the nation stats, as they rank 119th in points against (42.2), 115th in points for (15.7), 100th in passing offense (168.9) and 107th in rushing offense (109.1). The Lobos must surely be happy that BYU is going independent, as they have not beaten BYU in the Bronco Mendenhall era.
What we know about BYU
BYU is now (6-5), having made the improbable comeback from a 1-4 start that was capped by a huge loss to Utah State. Credit Bronco Mendenhall having the guts to change course mid-season, and credit the players for being united and willing to follow him. Bronco is now 24-0 against New Mexico, Colorado State, UNLV, and Wyoming. Add in SDSU, and he’s 29-1; Air Force makes it 34-2. With the win, BYU’s MWC record is 64-25, which, regardless of the outcome next week, is the most conference wins of any team in the league since it’s inception.
With the win, the Cougars know they will be going to a bowl game, but there are many factors that will determine which one that might be. The biggest factor is next week’s game, as BYU heads to Salt Lake to take on the Utes in the Holy War.