What is common among these three instances? TCU, Utah and Arizona represent the three good-to-great defenses. And all three times, BYU ended up recording a convincing loss.
This was not a good team.
It seems odd to be so utterly disappointed in a 10-3 team, but it's the reality. Look at the schedule:
Northern Iowa: 43-17 win. FCS team. This win really shows nothing either way.
Washington: 28-27 win. Washington finished the season winless (that's impressive all on its own), but they lost Jake Locker after four games, so I'm not sure the team that showed up versus BYU is the same team that lost to California 48-7. That said, the Huskies were not a good team at any point in 2008. A road win over a BCS team is usually impressive, but in this instance, BYU fans found little to be excited about.
UCLA: 59-0 win. The Bruins finished 4-8. The 59 they gave up to the Cougars was the most they allowed all season, but this game seems raher fluky. A couple early turnovers and quick scores on the UCLA defense demoralized the Bruins and that was that.
Wyoming: 44-0 win. Same story as UCLA, in my opinion. Early turnovers combined with BYU jumping out to an early lead led to the Cowboys giving up. Finished 5-7.
Utah State: 31-14 win over a 3-9 team.
New Mexico: 21-3 win, at home. Lobos ended with a 4-8 record. I attended this game, and while the final score is somewhat impressive, at no time did I feel like BYU was the overwhelmingly better team.
TCU: 32-7 loss. TCU is 11-1, and definitely a great team. BYU walked into a buzzsaw on this one.
UNLV: 42-35 win. The Rebels went 5-7 this season, and the Cougars had to rely on a late touchdown to beat them. At home.
Colorado State: 45-42 win. The Rams are a middle-of-the-road team, and this was a win on the road for BYU. Colorado State beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl yesterday to put their record at 7-6. Their losses came to Colorado, California, BYU, Utah, TCU and Air Force.
San Diego State: 41-12 home win. Against a 2-10 team. Not much to be enthusiastic about here.
Air Force 38-24 win. This is an 8-4 team, and the Cougars beat them in Colorado Springs. This was a good win.
Utah: 48-24 loss. We all know how this game went. Utah is undefeated and set to play in a BCS bowl.
Bottom line: BYU's nine FBS wins came against teams with a combined record of 38-71. Their three losses came against teams with a combined record of 31-6.
Nothing special here, folks. BYU was a good team, not a great one in 2008.
And the sad thing is that at this point, there's not a lot to be excited about for next season.
Such is the danger of high expectations.