What's real right now is the hard-truth highway found in the aftermath of a 38-7 loss suffered in Provo at the hands of TCU on Saturday night, the freeway exit off a 32-7 defeat in Fort Worth last season.
In both cases, BYU was put on that path by an opponent that was more athletic and better coached than the Cougars. That's happened twice this season and three times last, when BYU was throttled by teams with more speed, more polish, more poise, more pluck.
There have been a lot of wins mixed in over the past couple of seasons, too, but mostly against teams that provide little or no measure for true excellence or genuine progress, with the victory over what's turned out to be a compromised Oklahoma team as an exception. Overall, Mendenhall is 9-13 in big games and 2-7 against ranked teams.