BYU had no chance they said.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate came into the season as a Heisman Trophy favorite and was even featured on the front page of Sports Illustrated’s magazine with a headline that read, “He’s the Nation’s Best QB (Hand Him the Heisman).” Tate also became just the first UA football player to make the SI cover since 1994.
So during ESPN’s College Gameday segment Saturday morning, ESPN’s “experts” were all in agreement that Arizona’s Khalil Tate was going to light up BYU. Even ESPN’s power index gave BYU just a 14.7 percent chance of winning.
Here is what Rece Davis had to say about the matchup between BYU and Arizona:
“Khalil Tate is back… 3,000 yards of total offense and ran for more than 1,400 yards. Tanner Mangum is back for BYU, but I’m not sure it’s going to be quite enough. I think BYU has no answer for Khalil Tate.”
“I think BYU has no answer for Khalil Tate” – Rece Davis pic.twitter.com/KsZDcWuTaa
— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) September 1, 2018
Boy, were they wrong!
Except for penalties, the Cougars dominated the line of scrimmage and edged Arizona in every statistical category. BYU finished the night with 392 yards of total offense compared to just 326 for Arizona in the 28-23 road victory.
The Cougars had no turnovers, dominated the time of possession (36:33 to 23:27) and were flawless on special teams too as Michael Shelton ripped off a 37-yard punt return in the third quarter to setup another BYU touchdown.
BYU’s defense held Tate to his lowest point total ever as a starting quarterback and also held him to one of his lowest offensive outputs in his career with just 211 total yards. Considering Arizona averaged 40.9 points and 485.3 yards per game under Tate last year, BYU’s performance has now become a blueprint to stop of one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Last year, Tate set a conference record as he was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the week for four consecutive weeks. In 2017, Tate led the nation with an average of 9.2 yards per carry. On Saturday night, the Cougars held him to just 1.8 yards per carry thanks to BYU’s inspired play and stout defensive front with the likes of Corbin Kaufusi, Sione Takitaki, Khyiris Tonga and Butch Pau’u.
Don’t sleep on @BYUfootball Khyiris Tonga (@khyiristonga). The guy lives in the backfield and is an absolute beast. Arizona had no answer for him and we doubt anyone else will. #BYUFOOTBALL #BYUvsAZ #GoCougs #BYU pic.twitter.com/sMQbDrFZ5i
— Fan Insider (@FanInsider_) September 2, 2018
And after going 4-9 last year, BYU bounced back in a big way as head coach Kalani Sitake looks to turn the program back into a national powerhouse. After knocking off Arizona — which came in as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 South title — the Cougars are well on their way.
Now BYU turns its attention to Saturday’s home opener against another Pac-12 opponent in the California Golden Bears. It will be interesting to see what the College Gameday crew has to say about the Cougars now after last week’s horrible hot take.