Coming off one of the biggest wins in school history and facing another tough matchup next week, the ninth-ranked Cougars must deal with a potential trap game Saturday against Tulane at the Superdome.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made BYU -17.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on BYU -17.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Despite entering last Saturday ranked 20th in the nation, BYU was a three-touchdown underdog against then-No. 3
Max Hall may have thrust himself into this year's Heisman race by engineering a 16-play, 78-yard drive that ended with his 7-yard touchdown pass to McKay Jacobson with 3:03 to play.
"Where it's going to rank and all that, I'm not certain, but I know there are a lot of people who are going to benefit from the way these kids played today," Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Hall finished 26 of 38 for 329 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
"This game won't be worth as much if we don't keep winning, and especially if we don't win the next one," Hall said. "But I like the feeling of our team. ... We are hungry still. We want to win football games."
It was a memorable beginning to the 2009 season after a forgettable end to 2008, when the team had been ranked as high as eighth. Hall threw five interceptions in a 41-21 loss to Utah, ending BYU's reign as Mountain West Conference champion, and he committed three turnovers in a 46-30 loss to Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Saturday's win made fans forget that awful finish.
"For the first time there were people at the airport to greet the team. About 2,000 people were out there when we got back," Hall said. "The overall atmosphere has been really cool and we're enjoying it."
Another powerhouse awaits the Cougars on Sept. 16, with previously ranked Florida State set to visit Provo. The crowd will be particularly boisterous for the home opener if BYU leaves New Orleans unbeaten.
It seems the Cougars shouldn't have much trouble doing so, considering Tulane looked outmatched at home against an unranked opponent last Friday in a 37-13 loss to Tulsa.
A day later, BYU's defense limited Oklahoma - last season's highest-scoring team and third-best overall on offense - to 265 total yards and 2 for 11 on third downs. It was the fewest points the Sooners had scored in nearly three years.
The Tulane offense is not expected to present a problem, having been limited to 16.7 points per game last year and getting into the end zone once in its opener.
That touchdown came on Joe Kemp's 20-yard pass to Casey Robottom, but Kemp's slow start hurt the Green Wave. The sophomore was sacked three times on the offense's first two possessions as Tulane managed only one first down while falling behind 17-0.
"Let's face it - he's a young, inexperienced player; he hasn't played very much and it showed early," coach Bob Toledo said of Kemp, who was 16 of 26 for 278 yards with an interception.
These programs have split two meetings, with BYU winning 70-35 on Aug. 25, 2001, and Tulane beating the Cougars 41-27 in the 1998 Liberty Bowl.
Posted: 9/8/09 10:28PM ET