31 August 2010

Feeling like football

Photo courtesy of cougarstats.com

During my lunch break today, I drove to the store to pick up some cilantro and Worcestershire sauce for my wife. I rolled down my window and noticed a distinct chill in the air; it was closer to 70 degrees than 30, sure, but it definitely felt more like fall than summer. In addition, I was listening to ESPN radio and for the first time in a while I heard two guys talking college football. They were debating the merits of scheduling cupcakes or powerhouses for a team's out of conference schedule, and they each made some great points. It was such a welcome change from the endless talk about NASCAR and baseball and golf that I couldn't help but smile.

We're ramping up towards the best sports time of the year, November 1 through January 4. During that time we have the World Series, the start of the NBA season, college football, NFL and college basketball.

And today, for the first time, I feel like that blessed time is actually approaching.

On to today's video. The year is 2004. After going 5-7 in 2002 and 4-8 in 2003, the collective BYU fanbase was feeling pretty low. I was spared from the psychological trauma of losing to Nevada and getting shut out by Utah thanks to my time spent in Madagascar as a proselyting missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two years I was out of the country coincided perfectly with the worst two years of BYU football during my lifetime. In a way, it couldn't have worked out any better for me.

I returned home to Utah in December of 2003, and as BYU obviously did not play in a bowl that year, I had a full nine months to wait for the return of Cougar football.

The last time I had checked, BYU had gone 12-2 in 2001 and the offense was a high-scoring powerhouse. Despite my family's best attempts to acclimate me to the new reality that the Y was no longer any good, I could never bring myself to believe it.

September finally rolled around, and the first game on the schedule was at home versus Notre Dame. The last game I had seen BYU play against Notre Dame was in 1994, when the Cougars went to South Bend and beat the Fighting Irish 21-14. Yeah, there had been a 33-14 road loss to the guys in green in 2003, but as far as I was concerned, that had never happened.

BYU was going to win this game.

I remember it being abnormally cold for September 4, I remember John Beck's arm strength being impressive and I remember an absolutely fantastic throw and catch from Matt Berry and freshman Austin Collie to give BYU a 20-3 lead in the third quarter. BYU's defense, a strength of the team from 2002-2003, appeared to be as good as I'd heard.

Sure, Notre Dame scored on a 54-yard pass from sophomore Brady Quinn and then Berry threw a pick-six to make the finally tally closer than it should have been, but in the end, BYU came out with a victory, just as I had expected.

Thanks to Jennerstein for the video.

And for that day, BYU fans had hope that maybe the program was back on its feet after its long nightmare. Unfortunately, that season also gave us ugly losses to Syracuse, USC, UNLV and Utah, but at that moment, everyone was happy.

It's funny what a season-opening win can do.


Joseph Schuerman said...

Yeah it is.

Especially the Cougars' opener last season.

Josh said...

That was the first BYU football game that I remember. It was a pretty darn good one

Seth said...

Didn't they have a Doak Walker winner running back too? Darn good defense.