by Richard Anderson
Things started well on Saturday for the Wyoming Cowboys: they won the coin toss.
Then the game started.
As it turned out, the highlight of the game for the Cowboys was the coin toss, as Brigham Young rolled to a 52-0 win over Wyoming Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
Despite decent showings in their two previous losses -- 10-0 to Air Force and 22-10 to Utah, both on the road -- there was nothing decent for Wyoming in its return home.
So much for home sweet home.
It was the second straight shutout defeat to BYU, as the Cougars won 44-0 last season in Provo.
And after scoring 97 points in a three-game win streak, the Cowboys have now scored just 10 points in three straight losses.
One step forward, two steps back.
Just how many ways can you spin embarrassing? Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen had a few.
"It was probably the most disappointing day in my coaching career," Christensen said. "We took steps backwards. I thought our program had improved. I'm embarrassed; I apologize. This is the worst effort I have ever seen by a football team."
And no, Christensen did not see this coming.
"We got out and we practice hard," he said. "We execute in practice. We don't allow these things to happen in practice. I don't have a lot of answers right now."
As poorly as the Cowboys played, BYU, their respective Cougar tails two weeks ago after the 38-7 loss to TCU at home, came back with a roar.
"I think our players responded well (from the TCU loss)," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We played a much improved Wyoming team that played everyone, except for a half against Texas, very closely.
"We played very clean football and played well from the beginning to end. I was impressed with our team and the preparation of our staff."
While Christensen was impressed with the Cougars as well, he was less than impressed with his own team.
"Obviously, my hat is off to BYU, they are an excellent football team," Christensen said. "They were much more physical than us today by a long shot. They were much tougher than we were today, by a long shot. They executed much better than we did today, by a long shot."
BYU scored the first seven times it touched the football, leading 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, 31-0 at halftime and 45-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Cougars finished with 543 yards of total offense, to 225 for Wyoming.
BYU Quarterback Max Hall was nearly perfect and certainly unstoppable, as he completed 20 of 22 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Harvey Unga ran over the Wyoming defense, with 85 yards on 16 carries. Even backup quarterback Riley Nelson gained 71 yards on the ground on 10 carries.
Just what did the Cougars do right against the Cowboys, and what did the 'Pokes do wrong? Basically everything.
"The blocked us, we didn't get off blocks and we didn't cover properly," Christensen said. "We had blown assignments and we didn't make plays. We got beat physically, we got shoved around. It was awful."
While talking about a possible bowl game a month ago at 4-2, the Cowboys are now looking to just survive. while Saturday is a hard pill to swallow, Christensen said that's exactly what they will do as they get ready for San Diego State next week and then TCU and CSU to close the season.
"I can guarantee you that there is no quit in this coaching staff or this football team," he said.
Wyoming senior linebacker Weston Johnson said he is frustrated right now, the whole team is frustrating, the coaching staff is frustrated. At the same time, he said they will come back and work hard.
"Obviously, we're not doing something right," Johnson said. "We're going to have to come back this next week and really hit it hard, battle back, and salvage this season."