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The 2010 BYU Cougars football team represented Brigham Young University in the 2010 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Cougars, led by head coach Bronco Mendenhall, played their home games at LaVell Edwards Stadium and were members of the Mountain West Conference. They finished the season 7–6, 5–3 in Mountain West play and were invited to the New Mexico Bowl where they defeated UTEP 52–24.

2010 BYU Cougars football
BYU Cougars logo.svg
New Mexico Bowl champion
New Mexico Bowl, W 52–24 vs. UTEP
ConferenceMountain West Conference
2010 record7–6 (5–3 MW)
Head coachBronco Mendenhall
Offensive coordinatorRobert Anae
Offensive schemeSpread
Defensive coordinatorJaime Hill
Base defense3-4
CaptainMatt Reynolds
CaptainAndrew Rich
Home stadiumLaVell Edwards Stadium
(Capacity: 63,725)
← 2009
2011 →
2010 Mountain West football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 2 TCU $   8 0         13 0  
Utah   7 1         10 3  
Air Force   5 3         9 4  
San Diego State   5 3         9 4  
BYU   5 3         7 6  
Colorado State   2 6         3 9  
UNLV   2 6         2 11  
Wyoming   1 7         3 9  
New Mexico   1 7         1 11  
  • $ – Conference champion and BCS representative as top non-AQ school to meet automatic qualification criteria
As of January 11, 2011; Rankings from AP Poll

2010 was BYU's final season as a member of the Mountain West as started competing as an Independent in football beginning in 2011 with all other sports joining the West Coast Conference.




In the preseason, the Cougars had many talented prospects come in. No.1 rated QB by, Jake Heaps, joined the team, along with three players from The Oakridge School, Ross Apo, Tayo Fabuluje, and Teu Kautai

Media PollEdit

At the Mountain West media days on July 27, BYU was picked by 31 voters to finish 3rd in the conference behind TCU and Utah. Offensive linemen Matt Reynolds and free safety Andrew Rich were both named to the pre-season all-conference team.[1]

Conference Re-alignmentEdit

The Cougars weren't directly affected by conference expansion in June, but will lose conference rival (effective Fall 2011) Utah to the newly formed Pac-12. Before Utah was invited to the older Pac-10 conference, Boise State agreed to leave the WAC and join the MWC in 2011. Rumors began circulating afterward about whether the BYU-Utah rivalry would survive the transition. On August 31, the BYU Athletic Department issued a press release that BYU would leave the Mountain West Conference next year, go independent in football beginning with the 2011 season and join the West Coast Conference for all other sports.[2]


September 45:00 p.m.Washington*CBS-CW 23–1763,771
September 112:00 Air ForceVersusL 14–3546,692
September 181:30 Florida State*ESPNUL 10–3468,795
September 254:00 p.m.Nevada*
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Provo, UT
The Mtn.L 13–2761,471
October 16:00 Utah State*ESPNL 16–3124,152
October 94:00 p.m.San Diego State 
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Provo, UT
The Mtn.W 24–2162,176
October 162:00 No. 5 TCUVersusL 3–3140,416
October 2312:00 p.m.Wyoming
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Provo, UT
The mtn.W 25–2060,505
November 612:00 p.m.UNLV
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Provo, UT
The mtn.W 55–761,283
November 1312:00 Colorado StateThe mtn.W 49–1016,501
November 204:00 p.m.New Mexico
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium
  • Provo, UT
The mtn.W 40–759,077
November 271:30 No. 22 UtahThe mtn./CBS-CL 16–1745,272
December 1812:00 p.m.vs. UTEP*ESPNW 52–2432,424


Defensive Coordinator, Jaime Hill was fired the day after BYU lost to Utah State, BYU's fourth loss of the season after only playing five games. BYU had not started the season with a 1-4 record since 1973. After the firing of Hill, linebacker coach Nick Howell was moved to coach the secondary and Kelly Poppinga was promoted from graduate assistant to coach the linebackers.[3]

Game summariesEdit


BYU opened the season with Y Quarterback Weekend. During Y Quarterback Weekend all 8 All-American quarterbacks, including Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, returned and were recognized for their outstanding achievements while at BYU.[4]

Washington at BYU
1 234Total
Huskies 7 1000 17
Cougars 5 8100 23

It was a back and forth battle mostly through the air between the Cougars and the Huskies. Jake Locker threw for 266 yards. Nelson and Jake Heaps combined to throw for 262 yards, 131 each. In his first start in four years though, Riley Nelson threw for 2 touchdowns while the Cougars defense swarmed Washington State forcing a safety. No turnovers occurred in the game, but BYU managed to come from behind to defeat the Huskies. The win over the Huskies evened up the series between the Cougars and the Huskies at 4-4.[6]

Air ForceEdit

BYU entered into their second game of the season with a 5-game winning streak against the Air Force Falcons.[7]

BYU at Air Force
1 234Total
Cougars 14 000 14
Falcons 7 1477 35

The first quarter played out like most people expected the game would, all offense and very little defense. BYU had 44 yards passing to Air Force's 46. BYU had two touchdowns to Air Force's one. However, the Air Force defense would turn it on in the second quarter. Nelson and Heaps would combine to throw for only 44 more yards through the final three quarters while Air Force racked up 409 rushing yards. With the turnovers that BYU had, the game would turn into a blowout in favor of the Falcons. The Falcons had only won 6 of the 30 meetings between the teams going into 2010, but they got the last laugh before BYU left for Independence and cut the series to 24-7.[9]

Florida StateEdit

It the contest of 2010 was a road trip to Florida State, a team BYU was 0-3 against in their school's history. Previous contests took place in 1991, 2000, and 2009.[10]

BYU at Florida State
1 234Total
Cougars 0 1000 10
Seminoles 3 10147 34

In a battle where both offenses struggled, the Seminoles defense came up with the last laugh. Florida State had eight sacks, forced six punts, and made BYU turnover the ball twice, both leading to points that helped the Seminoles pull away for the win.[12] The loss wasn't the only bad news for BYU. The following Monday QB Riley Nelson had an MRI. It was revealed that he suffered a shoulder injury during the FSU game, and it would require five to six months of surgery and rehab before he would be able to play again.[13] The NCAA would grant Nelson a medical redshirt, allowing him to be a senior in 2012 instead of 2011.


The Cougars returned home with a new full-time starting QB in Jake Heaps knowing they would face a high powered Nevada team. BYU and Nevada had met 3 times previously, with BYU owning a 2-1 advantage.[14]

Nevada at BYU
1 234Total
Wolf Pack 14 1003 27
Cougars 7 303 13
  • Date: September 25
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
    Provo, UT
  • Game start: 4:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 3:09
  • Game attendance: 61,471
  • Game weather: 74 °F (23 °C), Sunny, winds WSW 7 mph
  • Referee: Marvel July
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler, & Sammy Linebaugh

Nevada held BYU to 320-yards of total offense in Jake Heaps first start. JJ Di Luigi rushed for 68 yards and scored BYU's lone touchdown. Only 1 turnover was forced the entire game, an Interception that allowed BYU to tie the game up, but Colin Kaepernick threw for 196 yards and effectively allowed the Wolf Pack runners to scramble throughout the game. Despite outpassing the Wolf Pack (229 to 196), BYU would fall to 1-3.[16]

Utah StateEdit

The Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel headed to Logan in 2010 with BYU having won 10 straight, with Bronco Mendenhall having never lost to the Aggies, and with BYU having not scored less than 30-points against the Aggies since 1982. With the start freshman Jake Heaps became the third freshman to have started more than one game as starting QB at BYU. All good things must come to an end though.[17]

BYU at Utah State
1 234Total
Cougars 0 376 16
Aggies 10 1470 31

A 31-16 thumping at the hands of Utah State completed the Cougars non-conference season. With Utah and TCU still to go on the schedule, people began to wonder if the Cougars had any heart or if they could get bowl eligible. The defense was ranked 102nd in the nation, and the offense wasn't moving the ball past midfield. Jake Heaps was averaging more than 200-yards a game passing, but it wasn't resulting in points. Independence for 2011 seemed to be all forgotten.[19]

San Diego StateEdit

BYU came into the series with the Aztecs holding a 26-7-1 record and knowing that San Diego State had never won two in a row against the Cougars. They also knew that if they lost, all chances of a bowl game would be crushed.[20]

San Diego State at BYU
1 234Total
Aztecs 0 777 21
Cougars 14 037 24
  • Date: October 9
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
    Provo, UT
  • Game start: 4:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 3:04
  • Game attendance: 62,176
  • Game weather: 60 °F (16 °C), Cloudy, winds WNW 7 mph
  • Referee: Greg Burks
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler, & Sammy Linebaugh

A hard fought homecoming game was overshadowed due to an ugly replay incident in the fourth quarter. A relatively obvious fumble that would have given San Diego State the ball and prevented a BYU touchdown was ruled instead to be BYU's ball. Replay officials agreed with the call, despite its obvious incorrectness. Following the game, accusations of partisanship were levelled against the replay officials because one of the men in the booth was a BYU employee. This was standard procedure at the time, and the lead replay official, who was the one who actually decided to uphold the call on the field, was a resident of Reno, Nevada with no connection to BYU.[22] Despite this, the negative reaction to the incident was significant enough that three MWC officials were suspended and a new rule was put into place by the MWC which stated that alumni could no longer officiate games involving their alma mater, even if they were only assigned to the replay booth.[23] BYU would go on to drive for a TD which gave them the 24-21 win.


BYU headed to Fort Worth for the tenth meeting with the Horned Frogs holding a 5−4 advantage in the overall series.[24]

BYU at #4 TCU
1 234Total
Cougars 0 030 3
Horned Frogs 3 14014 31
  • Date: October 16
  • Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium
    Ft. Worrth, TX
  • Game start: 2:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 2:53
  • Game attendance: 40,416
  • Game weather: 84 °F (29 °C), Sunny with Clear Skies, winds S 15 mph
  • Referee: Tom Walker
  • TV announcers (Versus): Joe Beninati, Kelly Stouffler, & Lindsay Soto

The Cougars went into Ft. Worth having one main goal- show improvement over their other losses. They knew many people wouldn't pick them to win, and they knew Heaps wasn't producing as well on the road. BYU's defense showed remarkable improvement over early in the year, giving up only 3 points in the first 29 minutes. However offensive turnovers late in the first half put the BYU defense in a bad spot. The offense's ineptitude at moving the ball (only 147 yards for the game) led to BYU's downfall.[26]


Needing to win 4 of the last 5 games to become bowl eligible, BYU began its quest against a Cowboys team that hadn't scored against BYU for the past 9 regulation quarters. Since 2006, BYU had owned the series against Wyoming by a score of 46.5-4.3 per game, and BYU led the overall series 43-30-3.[27]

Wyoming at BYU
1 234Total
Cowboys 0 1037 20
Cougars 16 036 25
  • Date: October 23
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
    Provo, UT
  • Game start: 12:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 2:56
  • Game attendance: 60,505
  • Game weather: 48 °F (9 °C), Cloudy with some rain, winds N 5 mph
  • Referee: Alan Eck
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): James Bates, Todd Christensen, & Toby Christensen

The Cougars defense dominated the game and held Wyoming to less than 200 yards. Turnovers on the offensive end kept the game close. It would take a last possession stand by the Cougar D to secure their third win of the year.[29]


After a bye week the Cougars returned to action to play UNLV for the final time as conference opponents. The series had largely been dominated by BYU (14-3), and 2010 would be the same.[30]

1 234Total
Rebels 0 007 7
Cougars 14 24143 55
  • Date: November 6
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
    Provo, UT
  • Game start: 12:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 3:11
  • Game attendance: 61,283
  • Game weather: 57 °F (14 °C), Partly Cloudy, winds SW 5 mph
  • Referee: Randy Christal
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler, & Sammy Linebaugh

In what can only be classified as a slaughter, BYU would thoroughly crush UNLV. They outgained the Rebels offensively 516 to 144. 70 of the Rebels yards came against BYU's second and third team players.[32]

Colorado StateEdit

With their first 2-game win streak in tow, BYU headed to Ft. Collins to face the Rams for the last time as MWC foes. It was the 69th meeting between the two schools, and BYU owned a 38-27-3 advantage in the series history.[33]

BYU at Colorado State
1 234Total
Cougars 14 2177 49
Rams 0 0010 10
  • Date: November 13
  • Location: Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium
    Ft. Collins, CO
  • Game start: 12:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 2:47
  • Game attendance: 16,501
  • Game weather: 38 °F (3 °C), Cloudy, winds S 7 mph
  • Referee: Land Clark
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler, & Roger Bailey

The Cougars suffered 2 turnovers, including one on their opening series, but they were nearly flawless. On third down they went 12-for-13. They racked up 526 yards total offense, including 396 with the starters. Corby Eason forced a fumble that Kyle Van Noy returned for a score. The Cougars dominated the Rams in virtually every fashion as they became one wni away from being bowl eligible with two games to play.[35]

New MexicoEdit

With their first 3-game win streak in tow, BYU returned home for Senior Day and a chance to become bowl eligible. Luke Ashworth came in as the FBS Player of the Week after his 4-TD performance against Colorado State. It was the 60th meeting between the two schools, and BYU owned a 44-14-1 advantage in the series history.[36]

New Mexico at BYU
1 234Total
Lobos 0 070 7
Cougars 17 3713 40
  • Date: November 20
  • Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
    Provo, UT
  • Game start: 4:06 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 3:04
  • Game attendance: 59,077
  • Game weather: 48 °F (9 °C), Windy & Rain Likely, winds SSW 29 mph
  • Referee: Cooper Castleberry
  • TV announcers (Mtn.): Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler, & Sammy Linebaugh

The Cougars managed to have 0 turnovers, but the crowd wasn't pleased. The crowd booed many of the officials calls as the Cougs and Lobos played in the wind with a chance of rain. The Cougars managed to outgain the Lobos 494 to 259. The defense showed they had come a long way since the Utah State game as they entered the game as one of the Top 15 defenses in the nation since late October. Heaps would say the Cougars were peaking at the right time, and the Cougs walked away with another easy win to become bowl eligible.[38]


Going into the final week of the season, the Cougars found themselves with a chance to win second place in the conference. The opponent standing in their way was their hated rival of the Deseret First Duel, the Utah Utes. Both BYU and Utah entered into the game having lost conference games to TCU, but a BYU win would give them the tiebreaker over Utah for second place.[39]

BYU at #22 Utah
1 234Total
Cougars 3 373 16
Utes 0 0017 17
  • Date: November 27
  • Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium
    Salt Lake City, UT
  • Game start: 1:37 pm MST
  • Elapsed time: 3:08
  • Game attendance: 45,272
  • Game weather: 29 °F (−2 °C), Overcast, winds S 4 mph
  • Referee: Terry Leyden
  • TV announcers (Mtn. & CBS-C): James Bates, Todd Christensen, & Sammy Linebaugh

The Cougars dominated the first three quarters, but they were unable to find the endzone consistently. With a 13-0 lead, Las Vegas Bowl representatives were ready to extend an invitation once again to BYU. BYU would cost themselves dearly in the fourth. Two turnovers led to 2 Ute touchdowns to give them a 17-16 lead. With Utah driving late in the final quarter, cornerback Brandon Bradley intercepted a Jordan Wynn pass but fumbled on the return, giving the ball back to Utah. Initial replay review appeared to show that Bradley's knee was down before the fumble occurred, but the initial call of a fumble was upheld on review. Following the fumble, Utah would score on a 3-yard run to take the lead at 17-16. The Utes would block a Payne field goal attempt on the final play of the game to conserve the win. It would go down as one of the many great BYU-Utah games solely because of the fourth quarter.[41]

New Mexico BowlEdit

Old WAC rivals were put together in the New Mexico Bowl as the 6-6 Cougars took on the 6-6 Miners. It was the 37th meeting overall with BYU holding a 28-7-1 advantage in the series.[42]

2010 New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP
1 234Total
Miners 3 777 24
Cougars 17 14147 52

BYU went into the New Mexico Bowl with the sole purpose of building momentum for the 2011 season.[44] UTEP went in hoping they could score and keep up with BYU after their season had changed due to the loss of their star player. The game would turn into a high scoring affair where freshmen would rule the day. Jake Heaps would throw for four touchdown passes and freshman Cody Hoffman would have 137 yards receiving with 3 touchdown receptions. Heaps would win the Offensive Most Outstanding Player award and would cement his role as the starter for BYU in the 2011 season. It would end up being the highlight of Heaps career at BYU. Defensively BYU senior safety Andrew Rich would earn MOP honors.[45]


  1. ^ "Cougars chasing Frogs and Utes in MWC media poll". Herald Extra. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  2. ^ "BYU football will go independent, join WCC in other sports". Deseret News. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  3. ^ "Mendenhall fires defensive coordinator Jaime Hill". SL Tribune. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  4. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Washington Huskies Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  5. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Washington Huskies (Sep 4, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  6. ^ "Washington 17, BYU 23". Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  7. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Air Force Falcons Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  8. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Air Force Falcons (Sep 11, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  9. ^ "Air Force (finally) garners emotional win over BYU". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  10. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Florida State Seminoles Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  11. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Florida State Seminoles (Sep 18, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  12. ^ "Florida State beats BYU behind big second-half effort, strong defense". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  13. ^ "Injury sidelines BYU QB Riley Nelson for '10 season". Herald Extra. Retrieved September 22, 2010.
  14. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Nevada Wolf Pack Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved September 20, 2010.
  15. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Nevada Wolf Pack (Sep 25, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved September 25, 2010.
  16. ^ "Nevada beats BYU 27-13, improves to 4-0". Nevada Sage Brush. Archived from the original on November 26, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
  17. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Utah State Aggies Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  18. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Utah State Aggies (Oct 1, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved October 1, 2010.
  19. ^ "Loss to Utah State has BYU stumbling toward football independence". USA Today. October 2, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  20. ^ "BYU Cougars vs San Diego State Aztecs Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  21. ^ "BYU Cougars vs San Diego State Aztecs (Oct 9, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Misinformation involving suspension of replay officials". Deseret News. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  24. ^ "BYU Cougars vs TCU Horned Frogs Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  25. ^ "BYU Cougars vs TCU Horned Frogs (Oct 16, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  26. ^ "Good signs − and bad − for BYU after TCU loss". Herald Extra. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  27. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Wyoming Cowboys Game Notes". KSL. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  28. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Wyoming Cowboys (Oct 23, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  29. ^ "Cougars jump on Cowboys then hang on". Deseret News. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  30. ^ "BYU Cougars vs UNLV Rebels Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  31. ^ "BYU Cougars vs UNLV Rebels (Nov 6, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  32. ^ "Total domination: BYU 55, UNLV 7". SL Tribune. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
  33. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Colorado State Rams Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  34. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Colorado State Rams (Nov 13, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  35. ^ "Cougars crush Colorado State 49-10" (PDF). SL Tribune. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  36. ^ "BYU Cougars vs New Mexico lobos Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  37. ^ "BYU Cougars vs New Mexico Lobos (Nov 20, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  38. ^ "Cougars pound Lobos, turn attention to Utes". SL Tribune. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  39. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Utah Utes Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  40. ^ "BYU Cougars vs Utah Utes (Nov 27, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  41. ^ "BYU vs. Utah football: Ute Redemption". SL Tribune. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  42. ^ "BYU Cougars vs UTEP Miners Game Notes" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  43. ^ "BYU Cougars vs UTEP Miners (Dec 18, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  44. ^ "For Cougars, New Mexico Bowl is all about building momentum". SL Tribune. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
  45. ^ "Cougars complete turnaround with 52-24 rout of UTEP". SL Tribune. Retrieved December 18, 2010.

External linksEdit