BYU manhandled Idaho State on Saturday 42-10, kneeling three times at the 1-yard line as the clock ticked down to zero in a show of sportsmanship by Kalani Sitake. The Cougars are 6-4 with two road games to play and accepted an invitation to the Aloha Bowl on Dec. 24.
The next time you see your BYU Cougars in LaVell Edwards Stadium will be on Sept. 12, 2020, against Michigan State.
That’s a wrap, folks.
BYU was 4-2 at LES in 2019, short of Sitake’s best home mark (5-1 in 2016) but far better than 2017 (2-4). Seniors Micah Simon, Talon Shumway and Austin Lee all scored touchdowns, as did junior Khyiris Tonga. The 330-plus pound defensive tackle is likely the largest Cougar to even cross a goal line, so there is that.
There wasn’t much at stake against Idaho State on Saturday and it felt like it, though the announced crowd of 57,379 was actually more than most would have expected on a sunny Saturday in November. Plenty of those in attendance made their way out of the stadium in the third quarter with the game pretty much decided, though a few hearty fans stayed put to honor the seniors on the BYU roster.
After most of the fans had left, the 19 seniors walked from the 50-yard line toward their teammates on the goal line, one last chance to celebrate their sacrifice and hard work.
And plenty of time for pictures.
Sitake is 14-10 in his four years as head coach, not a mark to be proud of. The Cougars should be at their best at LaVell Edwards Stadium but have laid some pretty big eggs at home, including losses to Cal, Northern Illinois and Utah State.
At some point — BYU fans hope soon — the Cougars will build a wall and protect LaVell’s house.
That’s really the next step in the process for Sitake and his program.
Sitake’s predecessor, Bronco Mendenhall, was pretty good at home. Under Mendenhall, the Cougars were 56-11 in Provo, though a lot of those wins were against Mountain West Conference competition. Still, Mendenhall went unbeaten at home four times, including a streak of 18 straight wins at LES (2006-2008).
That’s the goal. That’s what Sitake and his program should be shooting for every season. Opponents should fear coming to Provo, no matter the logo on their helmet.
This year’s home slate was pretty difficult and sort of predictable. The losses were to No. 14 Utah (30-12) and No. 21 Washington (45-19). The wins were against No. 24 USC (30-27 OT), No. 14 Boise State (28-25), Liberty (31-24) and Idaho State (42-10).
Next year, BYU opens against Michigan State (currently 4-6 this season after a 44-10 loss to No. 15 Michigan), Utah State (6-4 after a 26-21 against Wyoming), Missouri (5-5 after a 23-6 loss to No. 11 Florida), San Diego State (8-2 after beating Fresno State 17-7), Houston (3-7 after a 45-27 loss to No. 18 Memphis) and North Alabama (4-7 after beating Gardner-Webb 34-30).
Coaches and players can only take it one game at a time, as they will often tell you, but sports writers can look far into the future. How will BYU do in 2020 against the schedule?
Nobody on the list jumps out as a sure-fire loss, so let’s start there. Some mid-to-average P5 teams (Michigan State and Missouri) a rebuilding G5 team in Houston, a couple of Mountain West Conference teams (Utah State and San Diego State) and North Alabama.
There’s absolutely no reason that BYU, with youth and emerging talent at virtually every position, can’t run the table at LaVell Edwards Stadium next year.
The road schedule — Arizona State, Boise State, Northern Illinois, Stanford, Minnesota and Utah — is quite a bit more daunting.
All the more reason for the Cougars to make some memories and protect the house in Provo.