PROVO — With the way No. 22 BYU is demolishing its opponents this season, one can’t help but wonder how the Cougars would be faring had they kept their original, pre-pandemic schedule that featured opponents like Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State and Minnesota.
But for now, BYU, the only team west of Texas playing college football, is capturing the nation’s attention — and putting opponents away by halftime, if not sooner.
On Friday night at an empty LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Cougars kept rolling as they crushed Louisiana Tech, 45-14.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was nearly flawless, completing 24 of 26 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 43 yards and three TDs.
Wilson completed 92.3% of his passes Friday. Along with his perfect 18 for 18 game in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Wilson owns the two best completion percentage games in school history (minimum 15 attempts) and the best marks for at least 20 and 25 attempts.
At the end of the first quarter, Wilson had completed 8 of 8 passes for 96 yards. Wilson completed his first 12 pass attempts, 14 of his first 15 and was 18 for 19 at the half.
Wide receivers Gunner Romney (seven catches, 101 yards, one touchdown) and Dax Milne (seven grabs, 89 yards) and running back Tyler Allgeier (10 carries, 93 yards, one touchdown) had their way with the Louisiana Tech defense. BYU finished with 513 yards of total offense.
And the BYU defense was dominant once again — holding the Bulldogs to 313 yards. Cougar freshman Tyler Batty tallied three sacks.
BYU improved to 3-0 on the season while La Tech fell to 2-1.
Through three games, the Cougars have outscored their opponents 148-24 and have recorded 11 touchdown drives of at least 70 yards. Entering the weekend, BYU ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring offense and No. 2 in scoring defense. The Cougars were No. 1 in total defense and No. 4 in total offense.
BYU led by three touchdowns at halftime, and its lead ballooned to 35-7 early in the third quarter after a 1-yard run by Wilson.
Moments later, the Cougars appeared to score another TD when running back Tyler Allgeier ran 54 yards into the end zone. But the play was called back when a review showed that he had stepped out of bounds. BYU settled for a field goal as Jake Oldroyd booted a 45-yarder to give the Cougars a 38-7 lead with 7:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Wilson scored again on a 14-yard touchdown run that featured a spin move near the goal line. At that point, BYU led 45-7.
The Bulldogs added a touchdown with 4:58 left in the game to make it 45-14.
BYU wasted little time getting started Friday.
After forcing a La Tech punt, the Cougars marched downfield with ease, including Wilson’s 16-yard pass to Romney and a 39-yard completion to Milne. Wilson dove into the end zone on an end-around from 9 yards out to lift BYU to a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.
The Bulldogs answered on their next series, though, as quarterback Luke Anthony threw a screen to 5-foot-6 wide receiver Smoke Harris, who dodged through traffic for 66 yards to score a TD to tie the score.
It was the longest play the Cougar defense has surrendered this season. An offsides penalty on BYU, on third and eight, extended the drive for the Bulldogs.
BYU turned the ball over on downs on its next series when an unintentional fumblerooski play — which Romney took in for a long TD — was nullified on fourth and 1.
But the Cougars got the ball back quickly when Troy Warner recorded his first career interception.
BYU couldn’t capitalize, however, and punted.
On the Cougars’ next possession, Wilson threw a high pass into the end zone and freshman Carter Wheat made a leaping catch between two defenders to give them a 14-7 advantage with 10:34 left in the second quarter.
BYU defense came through again with a three-and-out and the offense scored again. The series was highlighted by a 22-yard pass from Wilson to Romney, who made an impressive catch near the sideline. After a review, he was ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line. One play later, Allgeier barreled into the end zone as the Cougars went up 21-7.
With 59 seconds left in the first half, BYU got the ball back at its own 20. It scored on a five-play drive that took just 37 seconds, which culminated with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Romney.
And at halftime, the Cougars were cruising 28-7.
BYU hosts UTSA next Saturday.