by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – Brigham Young has been an underdog before.
Despite posting the second most national titles in MCLA Division I history, producing countless All-Americans and generally considered one of the handful of true power programs in our association, the Cougars have run into opponents who were favorites.
It wasn’t often, mind you, but it happened. That’s just what happens when you play the best teams in the country on an annual basis.
But BYU has never entered a season like they are the 2020 campaign. Literally.
As you now through my pontifications, the 2019 championship was the first time in 23 years – the entirety of the MCLA’s existence – that the Cougars were not invited to nationals.
BYU was the only team to have that streak. Every other team had missed a year along the way, but the Cougars were perfect. And then last year happened.
The streak ended.
Don’t be deceived, however. It was close. In hindsight, the Cougars were likely undone by a mid-February loss to UC Santa Barbara and/or a 17-16 loss to a very good Utah Valley team in the RMLC semifinals.
BYU travels to the SELC this weekend – a rarity for RMLC programs – in hopes of a 2-0 start to the season. The Cougars will be favorites against an ascendant Auburn team on Friday night, but they will be considerable underdogs against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets have become the semifinal staples that the Cougars used to be.
Brigham Young is a proud program. They have a championship coach and tons of talent. And now they have motivation.
It’s a dangerous combination that just might cure the underdog blues.
SLIDES & RIDES
- The game between No. 10 Cal Poly and visiting USC is a slam dunk for the Mustangs, right? Cal Poly is going to be very good this year and will push Cal in the WCLL, but keep an eye on this USC team. The word on the street is USC matriculated some talented fresh faces. Combine that with a quality coach in Jake van Nostrand and you’ve got a recipe for some trouble. I’m not saying the Trojans are going to win, but Poly better be buttoned up in the season opener.
- Staying in the WCLL, Santa Clara kicks off its season against Sonoma State – a WCLL foe, but in a different subdivision – and inquiring minds want to know how the Broncos are going to follow up their debutante visit to nationals in ’19. Don’t sleep on the addition of former Virginia Tech head coach Tim O’Brien to Greg Hollingshead’s staff. Not a lot of staffs have that kind of coaching depth.
- The Andy Garrigan era kicks off at Georgia as the Bulldogs travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt in an SELC Southwest throwdown. It’s a good primer for UGA considering No. 1 South Carolina, Florida and No. 18 Clemson are next on the docket.
- “Bedlam” goes off on Friday night in Jenks as Oklahoma State and Oklahoma match up. It’ll be interesting to see how the Sooners come out of the gate with a new coach…No. 2 Cal hosts Chico State on Saturday. The Wildcats are known for their strong goalie play – Gavin Risby had 26 saves against the Bears last year – so we’ll see if that trend continues…No. 13 BYU at No. 4 Georgia Tech is the marquee matchup in the SELC, but I’ll be curious to see how Auburn holds up against the Cougars on Friday night...remember, if you want your captains to wear the (C) label next to them on the rosters and annotated in their individual bios, send them to [email protected].