New Mexico Bowl Final: BYU 52, UTEP 24

The New Mexico Bowl has concluded, and Jake Heaps and Andrew Rich took Offensive and Defensive MVP honors, respectively, as the BYU Cougars rolled to an easy win over the Miners of UTEP, 52-14.

Heaps to Hoffman. If today was any indication, this will go down as one of the great QB-receiver tandems in the history of BYU.  Neither player looked like a freshman as they dominated the UTEP secondary together.  Jake Heaps was 25/34 for 264 yards, 4 touchdowns and only one interception.  Cody Hoffman had 8 catches for 137 yards and three touchdown.  Heaps four touchdown day helped him break Ty Detmer’s record for touchdown passes as a freshman, and Heaps also tied Jim McMahon and John Walsh for most touchdown passes in a bowl game.

Juice and JJ BYU running backs combined for more than 200 yards on the ground.  Josh “Juice” Quezada led the way with 101 yards and one touchdown, and JJ DiLuigi had 98 yards with a touchdown as well.  Juice is a freshman, and JJ will be back next year as well.  With the performance today, BYU has three RB’s that topped 500 yards on the season, a first in BYU history.

Special Teams. JD Falslev and Cody Hoffman had great punt and kick returns, but the special teams ball has to go to Mitch Payne, who became BYU’s all-time top scorer, adding a field goal and 7 PAT’s to raise his total to 336 points, 3 more than Owen Pochman.  (It should be noted that when Pochman played, stats from bowl games were not counted with career stats, and he would still have the lead if that were the case.)

Bronco D. The defense started out especially strong, as they have tended to do since Bronco took over as DC.  In the first quarter, UTEP was held to -5 yards of total offense, and just three points, as the Cougars jumped out to a 17-3 lead.  The Miners were able to find some success, especially with Vittatoe to Adams, who connected three times for three touchdowns, averaging 51 yards each.  Andrew Rich earned Defensive MVP honors, as he tallied two interceptions and a sack for the Cougars. Overall, the Miners were held to -12 yards rushing, and 245 yards passing.

Records. Bronco Mendenhall is now 4-2 in bowl games as BYU’s head coach, and the school’s all-time bowl record is 11-17-1.  Bronco owns more than 1/3 of BYU’s bowl wins.  All-time.

Here are some other BYU school bowl records that were tied or broken in this game (via Jay Drew and to him via the BYU sports information department):

* Most points: 52
* Most PATs Made: 7, Mitch Payne
* Most Touchdown Passes: 4 (tied), Jake Heaps
* Best Completion Percentage: 73.5, Jake Heaps
* Most Touchdown Receptions: 3 (tied), Cody Hoffman
* Most Interceptions: 2 (tied), Andrew Rich
* Longest Punt: 60 yards, Riley Stephenson
* Most Rushing Attempts: 52
* Most Rushing Yards: 219

What we know about UTEP

UTEP, now (6-7), showed some fight this game, mostly in the form of their senior quarterback, Trevor Vittatoe, who owns most of UTEP’s career passing records.  He’s been playing on what was described as a “shredded” ankle for the last half of the season.  Despite the injury, he was able to be effective throwing the ball.  Unfortunately for UTEP, he, and his TD target, Kris Adams, are both graduating.

What we know about BYU

This BYU team is special.  They orchestrated an amazing mid-season turnaround, became bowl-eligible, and came into this game and dominated from start to finish.  For me, the biggest story of the day is just how many freshmen stood out on the stats page, and on the field:  Heaps, Hoffman, Falslev, Van Noy, Quezada.  Next year, BYU could return as many as 19/22 starters, and of course, all of those I just named will be just Sophomores.  The future is bright for BYU, and with the move to football independence, the stage could not be bigger.  The potential for this group of players is greater perhaps than for any previous BYU football team.

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