BYU's regular season finished up on Saturday as part of what is typically "Rivalry" weekend. It came down to the wire and in a way it felt like a Rivalry game but instead of a single team, we swept an entire league - one that has left us on the outside multiple times for non-athletic reasons. It was a comeuppance - and not the only one on Saturday.
"Bedlam" might be the most lopsided rivalry game in history. The Pokes have always been the junior rivalry to Red River for the Sooners and heading into Saturday with playoff hopes on the line, the all time record sat at 90-18-7 for OU.
After the Cowboys victory, this was posted:
The jab of "It just means more", the SEC's slogan, is obviously directed towards the Sooners leaving the Big 12. This season was a comeuppance to the egos of the Longhorns and the Sooners - Texas misses a bowl, Oklahoma has 2 losses and is firmly out of the NY6 and USC hired their superstar coach the next day. Meanwhile, 3 of the 4 teams the Big 12 invited are in the Top 25, including Cinci eyeing a CFP invite and UCF is a respectable 8-4 after starting true freshman QB in place of injured Dillion Gabriel. While the two biggest brands are leaving, the on field product of the league is looking better and better.
For BYU, It Does Mean More
As I sat at the game, my buddy and I laughed at the Oklahoma State tweet and then talked about all the great games we've been able to attend because of independence in historic venues: Tennessee, Michigan, Nebraska, etc. Road trips in the Indy era have been amazing for the fans. Seeing a sea of royal blue in a 50/50 crowd on the road and it feeling like a home game never gets old.
Some Utah fans took jabs about their game against Colorado saying "this game is meaningless, this is what it must feel like to be a BYU fan". They couldn't be further from the truth.
BYU is one of the few programs in the country that could successfully and sustainably (despite Bronco's feelings) navigate being an independent program in the current landscape of CFB. You can say there's nothing to play for, but you only get 13 games a year to strap it up and the players want to win. And as a fan, being a BYU fan is not just about a game - it really does mean more.
BYU football is just an outward expression of our BYU fandom. Yeah for some fans it's just their team - but the reason college football is great in general is the tie we have to the school. It's better than the NFL because you attended school there, you have lifelong friends from that time, you launched your career there (or somebody close to you did). You are in some way, shape or form more connected to the programs than a random professional franchise.
But at BYU - it just means more.
For a lot of BYU fans it's where they met their spouse. For my family, it is where my parents joined the church. I spoke to Kalin Hall after the game, and for him and countless other athletes, its where they joined the church. The players do not just represent themselves, or the school, but they are ambassadors for the church (as evidenced by the apparent "F the Mormons" chant from the USC Student Section - you couldn't hear it at the game, it was like 3 people and the boom mic just picked it up for the TV broadcast).
Conference Champs All The Same
Watching national writers across the Twitterdom clamor that BYU is the true 2021 PAC-12 Champions and the swarm of Utah fans to the replies was hilarious - I especially recommend looking at @Andy_Staples.
Soak it up Cougar fans - this year was probably our strongest record ever. It isn't the best team, but 6-1 vs P5 programs, a clean sweep of the conference that spurned us and capping it off with a victory over a blue blood in their house with a crowd that leaned BYU is a helluva ride.