BYU: A Punchers Chance

BYU's Tanner Mangum

When Hasim Rahman boxed Lennox Lewis, it was clear that Lewis was the superior boxer.  He was stronger, had better head movement, he was faster, threw crisper punches, and he was longer.  Everything on paper favored Lewis.  Lewis had fought the who’s who of the heavyweight division in the 90’s.  He beat Holyfield, Briggs, and Oliver McCall.   However, in the 5 round of a fight that Lewis was winning, Rahman stepped into a right cross, and landed flush on Lennox Lewis’s jaw.  Lewis fell to the ground like a bag of bricks, his eyes rolled to the back of his head, and his jelly legs couldn’t hold the weight of his body.

Just like that, the underdog was the new Heavyweight Champion of the World.

I don’t think that the UCLA Bruins are the best or even unbeatable, but they are a heavy 16 point favorite against BYU.  Everything on paper says that the Bruins should win this game. Eighteen returning starters from a nine win team, a win against a very good Kansas State team in the Alamo bowl, and a new Freshman QB who seems to have an amazing touch on the ball.

So how can BYU win this game?  It’s a punchers chance.

Let’s take a look at the first two games’ big plays (really only one and half games because we won’t count Taysom Hill’s big plays).

First, the obvious one’s the two Hail Marys at the end of both games.  Those have been covered from top to bottom, if you haven’t seen them, then that’s a “you” problem.  Fourth and one, Bronco gambles it, down by four in Lincoln.  Tanner Mangum completely turns his back to the pass rush, rolls to the right, and throws a dart to Nick Kurtz.  Next, same game, BYU is pinned down inside their own 20. They hadn’t been able to move the ball on the ground all day. Mangum tosses it to Adam Hine on the edge, and he scampers down the sidelines for 21 yards to get them out of their own endzone.

Let’s move on to the Boise State game. The third play of the game, Tanner Mangum rolls to his right (are we as fans noticing a trend here?) stops at the 11 yard line, and throws a dart 65 yards in the air to Mitchell Juergens who got behind the defensive back, and takes it to the house.  Third and 19, Boise State is up by 10 and has all of the momentum in the game. Their D-Line is pinning their ears back and coming after Mangum like their hair’s on fire.  Mangum drops back, avoids the rush, and puts the ball right on Devon Blackmon.  Sixty yards later, BYU now has a fighting chance to win the game.  On the same drive, after a holding penalty, Robert Anae calls a draw on second and goal from the 20 yard line.  I, like much of the rest of the BYU fans, groaned about the play when I saw the handoff, but I noticed Karoma and Lapuaho blow the DT into the LB. Hine broke three tackles and powered his way to the goal line.

With all of that, how can BYU go down to Pasadena and beat UCLA  in the Rose Bowl?

They are going to come out swinging.  Don’t be discouraged when the Cougars go three and out, because that is going to happen.  Don’t be discouraged when the Bruins score, don’t hang your head when Anae plays it safe and runs a delayed handoff on third and 12.  BYU is going to throw haymakers and land a few.  If they land three of those big shots, that can give them 21 points.  Then sustain a drive or two and you can be into the 30’s.  That is more than enough points and momentum to beat UCLA.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen, and in the re-match, Lennox Lewis completely outclassed Hasim Rahman and took the belt back. But for one night in hostile territory, one solid punch to the jaw can shock.