Season openers have been very kind to BYU over the years and this season was no different as the 25th ranked Cougars jumped out to a huge lead and didn’t look back as BYU rolled to a 50-21 victory at Raymond James Stadium — home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With the win, the Cougars have now won 14 of its last 16 season openers and improved to 6-1 under Kalani Sitake. The Cougars also hit the half century mark in the season opener for just the second time under Sitake. The last time that happened was back in 2020 when the Cougars crushed Navy 55-3. Prior to 2020, the last time BYU scored 50+ points in a season opener was against Tulane in 2001 (70 points).
As expected, Jaren Hall was efficient, completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns in the win. With Gunner Romney out with an undisclosed injury, Hall still managed to spread the ball around to 12 different receivers. Chase Roberts led the way with three catches for 41 yards while Keanu Hill and Dallin Holker each had touchdown receptions.
Puka Nacua had one catch for 22 yards and also scored on the first play of the game as he took an end around for a 75-yard score. The talented junior ended up getting hurt in the first half and didn’t play the rest of the game as a precaution.
BYU finished the game with 575 yards of total offense, including 314 rushing yards. Cal transfer Christopher Brooks led the way with 13 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown. Lopini Katoa had 10 carries for 55 yards and Jackson McChesney added 3 carriers for 33 yards in the win.
With the victory, the Cougars can now turn their attention to No. 10 Baylor in what should be a Top 20 showdown between both programs in Provo.
Here’s how the media, fans, coaches and players reacted after the win:
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 4, 2022
Did everyone beat their Florida opponents this week?
— The ROC (@byuROC) September 4, 2022
RT if the team you support travelled to Florida this weekend and won.
— Jonny Linehan (@jlinehan9) September 4, 2022
— Micheal H. (@Henson72477) September 4, 2022
Cougar nation!! Lets go 1-0! See you guys next week at LES!! #GoCougs
— Puka Nacua (@AsapPuka) September 4, 2022
Cougar Nation coming through as always here in Tampa!! Feels good to start the season off right. On to the next!! #GoCougs 🤙🏽
— Fesi Sitake (@fsitake) September 4, 2022
— Dr. Derwin L. Gray (@DerwinLGray) September 4, 2022
— Billy Nixon (@BYUDFO) September 3, 2022
Introducing the @BYUfootball 2022 Turnover #SwaggerBelt that pays homage to every football win during independence. Left side: Bronco’s 43 wins – Right side: Kalani’s 48 wins. This thing has depth, SWAGGER and packs a punch, just like the defense! #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/SxJTyCgnWU
— Salt City Swagger (@SaltCitySwagger) September 3, 2022
So far this BYU game is electric!
It's shockingly hot.
Not sure what the 'current' update is.
No question they'll storm the field when they can.
— Hans Olsen (@975Hans) September 3, 2022
— Jasmine Limbong (@jasmine_limbong) September 4, 2022
— Ryan M Robinson (@CougsRMR) September 4, 2022
Love these Cougs! Definitely some things to iron out and improve (kickoff, kick return, punt teams) but an amazing way to start the season. Chris Brooks is a beast, love the depth and athleticism of the defense, and Puka? Wow. #BYUFootball #GoCougs
— Todd “Sweet Mother of Moses” ⛳️🏀🏈⚾️⛳️🦈 (@ToddBGolf) September 4, 2022
DELAY ALL GAMES FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON
— Jonny Linehan (@jlinehan9) September 3, 2022
Some BYU winning streaks extended tonight in Tampa:
leading at half: 11 wins
lead/tied after 3Q: 12 wins
score in all 4 qtrs: 14 wins
score 30+ pts: 16 wins
50% 3rd down conv: 16 wins
allow 21 pts or fewer: 17 wins
score TD on opening drive: 24 wins
— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) September 4, 2022
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) September 4, 2022
Every game a home game💙 pic.twitter.com/HuH2N75cTM
— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) September 4, 2022
Cougar Nation, you never cease to amaze me! 💙 It doesn’t matter where @BYUfootball plays, you show up in droves. Announced attendance in Tampa tonight was 31,521 and it sure seemed like a 50/50 crowd… 31,521 x .50 = amazing! #GoCougs #CougarNation https://t.co/SCtso3bomA
— Duff Tittle (@dufftittle) September 4, 2022
— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) September 4, 2022
— Ty Jensen (@TyScottJensen) September 4, 2022
— Bailey Eisenbarth (@eisens98) September 4, 2022
— Amber Roberts (@ambernn_) September 4, 2022
That’s it…I’m getting a Kalani Sitake tattoo 🤷♂️ #BYUFootball
— Jimmie Dub (@CougarJimmie) September 4, 2022
— Aaron Bagley (@aaronbag1ey) September 4, 2022
— Chad Taylor (@jonnnnylingo) September 4, 2022
🚨TRUCK TRACKER🚨 Everything loaded after the big win and headed home. Be in Provo in 40 hours. All is well. Hal pic.twitter.com/LKrWuCPxZK
— Josh Hewitt (@byuequipment) September 4, 2022