Ann Arbor — Something wasn't right, and everyone on the BYU sidelines knew it right away.
"We could tell right from the beginning of the football game that they prepared better," defensive lineman Remington Peck said. "They wanted to play better."
Michigan laid down big, fat tire spikes on BYU's road up the college football landscape Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium, slapping the Cougars with a 31-0 loss.
BYU (2-2), which entered the game having averaged more than 30 points in its first three games, was limited to 105 total yards and eight first downs and was shut out for the first time since the 2003 season finale.
It was so bad, almost nobody got more touches for BYU than Jonny Linehan — the punter.
BYU punted on 11 of 12 possessions, and probably would've on No. 12, too, if the clock hadn't, mercifully, expired.
"We were dominated in every facet, their defense over our offense, every guy, every play," BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae said. "It was every single position.
"It didn't matter what personnel was shuffled through."
BYU's season has been among the most talked-about this college football season, thanks to a 2-0 start on the strength of two Hail Mary passes by freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum — over Nebraska and Boise State. The Cougars then lost late last week to UCLA, but still came into Saturday's game ranked No. 22 in the nation.
Make no mistake. This team here didn't look anything like the No. 22 team in the country.
The brutal early schedule and travel — Nebraska, UCLA and Michigan all were on the road — might've finally caught up to them.
"I feel it," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, "so maybe the team did."
But mostly, Mendenhall said, it was a matter of concentration and preparation — as well, of course, as the opposition. Mendenhall and Anae called
Michigan, "by far," the best foe BYU has played this season
Mendenhall changed his team's practice structure this week and "eased up" on the players, as if to treat Saturday's game like a Friday night game — given the noon start in Ann Arbor, two time zones away from BYU's campus in Provo, Utah.
But it didn't work. BYU came out flat, made some very poor gaffes — several bad penalties kept Michigan scoring drives alive — and trailed 31-0 at the half.
"I'm not sure what I would've done, preparation-wise, differently," Mendenhall said. "A game like this, sometimes, is necessary. I hate that."
Mendenhall said he was widely disappointed in his team's early showing, and he was very pleased the defense came out in the second half and limited Michigan to no points — albeit, after Michigan and quarterback Jake Rudock had essentially gone into ultra-conservative mode.
Mangum, the BYU quarterback who was on all the highlight shows after his two late comebacks to start the season, could do absolutely nothing Saturday. He was rushed, and didn't handle it well, throwing low and high and rarely accurately, and that's if he got the throw off at all. He was 12-for-28 for 55 yards.
The running game wasn't any better, picking up just 50 yards.
"Tanner's still our guy, he's our quarterback. We're going to support him," receiver Mitch Mathews said. "He does really well at swallowing what's in the past."
Mendenhall can only hope the rest of the Cougars are good at that, too.
This is for certain, he said: He's about to find out just what kind of makeup and resiliency his team has -- much more in fact, when his team was 2-0 and a national darling.
"You don't see that on the Hail Mary wins. That's not where you find that out," said Mendenhall, whose team hosts Connecticut next week. "You find that out when you're at the bottom.
"And that's where I feel I'm at."