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Instant analysis: BYU 24, Tulsa 21

12/30/2011



BYU beat Tulsa 24-21 in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Friday afternoon. Here is a quick analysis:

How the game was won: You have to love the moxie of quarterback Riley Nelson. Trailing 21-17 with 4:18 to go, Nelson engineered a terrific game-winning drive, converting once on fourth down and once on third down with big-time runs. Facing second-and-goal from the Tulsa 8 with the clock ticking down, Nelson pulled out the ol' fake spike attempt and found Cody Hoffman for a 2-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 11 seconds left. BYU has now rallied for victory in five of its 10 wins this season.

Turning point: Tulsa got a major break with six minutes to go, leading 21-17. Pinned deep in its own territory and forced to punt, BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy got flagged for running into the punter. But Tulsa could not take advantage of the break, and went three-and-out to give BYU the ball back. The Cougars then went on their game-winning drive.

Stat of the game: BYU won its third straight bowl game for the first time in school history.

Player of the game: BYU receiver Cody Hoffman. Hoffman had eight catches for 122 yards and tied a career high with three touchdown receptions. He broke the 100-yard mark in three of his final four games.

Unsung hero of the game: BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds. BYU was able to close to 14-10 right before halftime thanks in part to Reynolds, who delivered a hit with his helmet off as Nelson scrambled away from the pressure. That hit allowed Nelson to find Hoffman in the end zone with 12 seconds to go before the break.

What it means for Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane close the season on a disappointing note, having squandered several opportunities to put this game away. They were simply too inconsistent on offense and defense. A big play would be followed by a letdown play. G.J. Kinne threw three TD passes in the final game of his career, but he was just 17-of-31 for 210 yards. He leaves behind big shoes to fill.

What it means for BYU: The Cougars won 10 games -- their fifth 10-win season in the past six years. That has to be considered a major success in Year 1 as an independent. Nelson returns next season, and BYU has to hope for a little bit more consistency out of him. He was not very good for most of the first half, and threw two interceptions. He actually had a third called back because of a Tulsa penalty. Many of the skill players also return, so hopes will be high for 2012 once again.

Record performance: Tulsa cornerback Dexter McCoil had two interceptions to tie the school record for career interceptions with 13.