The common theme for Brigham Young University heading into Saturday had been its toy chest full of horseshoes.
Two wins via the Hail Mary and a near upset at UCLA last week, the Cougars would be suppressed by the Michigan Wolverines early and often as Jim Harbaugh and Co. trampled BYU 31-0, granting Michigan its third consecutive victory.
And the win was seemingly poetry in motion with domination on both ends of the ball. Yes, even on offense.
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Quarterback Jake Rudock enjoyed his best performance of 2015 with 194 passing yards and a touchdown without turning the ball over; he would also rush for two scores, both in the first half. The Wolverines would prance into the locker room up 31-0, out gaining BYU 317-62 in terms of total yards, while nearly doubling time of possession.
The supporting cast broke through with big-time plays, including a 60-yard touchdown scamper by tailback De’Veon Smith, and this Odell Beckham Jr.-like snag by Amara Darboh that sent the six-figure attendance into a wave of cheers. Smith topped the century mark once more with 16 carries for 125 yards while Darboh lead the receiving corps with four receptions for 57 yards and a second quarter touchdown.
Four different tight ends also hauled in receptions, just in case we were confused on who was Michigan’s head coach.
The defense represented a mirror image of what fans witnessed in two brilliant performances versus UNLV and Oregon State. With the defensive line establishing a firm push the entire game, it forced Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum to throw for just 55 yards on 12 completions. The Wolverines forced BYU into seven three-and-outs.
And it’s clearly not just stemming from their opponent’s bleak offensive production: the Wolverines are flying around and seldom missing tackles. For a Cougars receiving bunch that has a steady balance of capable pass catchers, the batch of wideouts were concealed all day by the Michigan secondary.
Rudock blossomed and appeared extremely comfortable in his progressions, refraining from making errant throws and escaping pressure when it transpired. It was a major incline from the previous three contests.
I for one was not entirely sold on Brigham Young heading into Saturday’s encounter. Sure, the Cougars hold a nice “22” next to their name (which should ultimately be erased by Monday) and have racked up a pair of wins against respectable competition, but BYU was clearly mismatched by the physicality in the trenches–and it was thoroughly depicted–in Ann Arbor. The schedule, perhaps the most rigid in the country, also may have weighed down the mentality, and frankly, it doesn’t get any easier for Bronco Mendenhall’s Cougars.
If anyone anticipated a letdown from the maize and blue prior to shattering open conference play, they were clearly mislead. The Wolverines travel to Maryland next weekend for their first Big Ten showdown.