BYU's stingy defense will look to keep the high-powered San Diego State offense under wraps. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- No. 19 BYU (9-2, 6-0) travels to San Diego, Calif., to face San Diego State (4-7, 3-4) in a game that was originally to take place last October. However, emergency action surrounding the Southern California wildfires forced the postponement of the game to this Saturday, Dec. 1.
Having secured the outright Mountain West Conference Championship last week against Utah, the Cougars hope to wrap up their second consecutive undefeated season against the MWC when they face the Aztecs at 3:30 p.m. (PT). BYU has won a MWC record 15 straight league games, dating back to a 31-17 road victory over No. 15 TCU last season. It is the longest conference win streak for the Cougars since winning 25 straight from November 20, 1982 to October 19, 1985. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 1-1 against SDSU since taking the reins of the BYU football program. San Diego State has lost its last two games by an average of 22 points per game.
THE BYU-SDSU SERIES
Saturday's contest will be the 32nd all-time between BYU and San Diego State. The Cougars have won five of the last six games against SDSU, including a 47-17 victory last season at LaVell Edwards Stadium. In the series that dates back to 1947, BYU enjoyed its longest winning streak against San Diego State from 1976-85 when it defeated the Aztecs nine straight times. Since the 1985 season the Cougars have not won more than five consecutive games against SDSU, while the Aztecs have never beaten BYU twice in a row. The two teams played to a 52-all tie in 1991, the only draw in the history of the series.
A LOOK BACK: BYU 17, UTAH 10
Reminiscent of its' last-second victory against Utah (8-4, 5-3) in the 2006 season, No. 19 BYU (9-2, 7-0) defeated its archrival on a final drive to take a 17-10 win Saturday in front of a sellout crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium. With the win the Cougars became the outright Mountain West Conference Champions for the second season in a row. Defeating Utah marks the first time since the 2000-2001 seasons that the Cougars have recorded back-to-back wins over their in-state rivals. It also marks their first win against Utah in Provo since 2001. BYU has now won its last eight games as well as its last 15 conference games. Freshman running back Harvey Unga surpassed 1,000 yards on the season after rushing for 144 yards on 23 carries again the Utes, becoming the first freshman at BYU to reach the mark. Sophomore receiver Austin Collie caught five balls for 126 yards, including a game-saving 49-yard reception on the Cougars' final drive. Following the game, the Cougars were awarded the MWC Championship trophy.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a regional television audience on The Mtn. It will be the last of six broadcasts on the network for BYU this season.
WHAT THE GAME MEANS
A win would help the Cougars' chances at busting the BCS. BYU is ranked 19th and needs to reach No. 16 in order to have a chance at receiving an invitation to one of the five BCS bowl games.
A win against San Diego State would give the Cougars their second straight 10-win season, including their ninth straight victory overall. BYU has recorded 11 total 10-win seasons in its history.
A victory would also give the Cougars their second straight perfect 8-0 league season, extending the team's MWC record win streak to 16 straight to mark the longest conference win streak for the Cougars since winning 16 straight from Nov. 15, 1983 to Oct. 19, 1985. That 16-game streak was actually part of a school-record, 25-game league win streak that dated from Oct. 2, 1982 until Oct. 19, 1985.
A loss against SDSU at Qualcomm Stadium would put an end to those conference streak and would mark BYU's second straight loss in San Diego.
With a win against Colorado State, the Cougars picked up their sixth win of the season and have qualified to participate in their third straight bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season. BYU has not played in three straight bowl games since playing in the 1992 Aloha Bowl, the 1993 Holiday Bowl and the 1994 Copper Bowl. From 1978 through 1994, the Cougars participated in a school record 17 straight bowl games.
A WIN'S A WIN
BYU's 17-10 win over Utah marked the fewest points the Cougars have scored in a winning effort since beating New Mexico 10-7 on September 13, 2003.
SIX STRAIGHT SELLOUTS
The Utah game marked the sixth consecutive sell-out at La Vell Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1991 season the Cougars have had six sellouts during the same season. BYU also posted a perfect record of 6-0 during the 1991 campaign. Since 1999, the Cougars are 12-4 in games with a sell-out crowd. The BYU-Utah game is sold out, marking the sixth straight sellout at Edwards Stadium.
While BYU has posted an impressive 12-game home win streak, the Cougars have been equally impressive on the road. BYU has won 8 of its last 10 road games, including four straight road games this season. With a 35-10 victory at Wyoming, the Cougars extended its MWC road win streak to 10 straight games, dating back to the 2005 season. The Cougars will close out the regular season on the road at SDSU.
COUGARS CONTINUE TO WIN
With a 17-10 victory over Utah, the Cougars have won 19 of their last 21 games, dating back to last season. BYU is currently on an eight-game win streak that includes a 25-point win on the road at Wyoming, a win over TCU, a 19-pont victory over CSU, a 35-point victory over Eastern Washington, a 25-point win over Air Force, and road wins over New Mexico and UNLV. BYU holds the nation's second longest win streak.
Entering Saturday's game against San Diego State, the Cougars own a record of 239-40-1when rushing for 100 (or more) yards since the 1972 season. The Tulsa game marked only the fifth time since 1991 that the Cougars had gained over 150 yards rushing in a game and lost. (BYU is 76-5 since 1991 when rushing for 150 or more yards.) During the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 22-3 when rushing for 100 or more yards and 14-2 when rushing for 200 or more yards.
TALE OF THE TAPE
BYU's starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 318.4 pounds and average 6-feet-5. The front five will be going up against a San Diego State defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 261 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars' front three average 6-feet-3, 267 pounds, while the Aztecs' offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-3, 296 pounds per man.
The victory over Utah ran BYU's consecutive home winning streak to 12 games, dating back to last season. Over that span, the Cougars have beaten their opponents by an average of 26.3 points per game. During that stretch, BYU is allowing just 11.2 points per game. The Cougars have allowed seven points or less in six of the last 12 home games. In six home games this season, the Cougars have outscored opponents by an average 17.3 points per game and have allowed just 11.3 points per game. BYU's current win streak is the longest since posting a 17-game home win streak from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
A 17-10 victory over Utah marked the 12th straight victory at Edwards Stadium -- the longest home win streak since winning 17 straight from October 7, 1989 to November 23, 1991. BYU is 14-3 in Provo during the Bronco Mendenhall era. In addition, the Cougars are 7-1 in games in Provo following a road game under Mendenhall.
HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN TOP
With a 17-10 win over Utah, the Cougars remain atop the MWC with a 7-0 record. BYU has won a MWC record 15 straight league games, dating back to a 31-17, road victory over No. 15 TCU last season. The streak includes a record 10 straight road victories against league opponents. The Cougars' 15-game league win streak is the longest since winning 25 straight October 2, 1982 to October 19, 1985. BYU owns a league-best 45-20 record against Mountain West opponents since the league began in 1999. The Cougars are the only team to record two different undefeated league seasons in the eight years since the beginning of the Mountain West Conference. BYU became the first undefeated MWC team with a 7-0 league record in 2001 and went undefeated again last season with a perfect 8-0 record against Mountain West opponents.
The Cougars' 17-10 victory over Utah in front of a capacity crowd of 64,749 - the second largest crowd at Edwards Stadium since the seating reconfiguration in 2003 - marked the sixth consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1991 season the Cougars have had six sell-outs during one season. A crowd of 64,525 attended the Cougars' season-opening victory over Arizona on September 1, while attendance for Saturday's game against Air Force was listed at 64,502. The attendance against EWU was listed at 64,522, while 64,411 attended the CSU game. Since 1999, the Cougars are 13-4 in games with a sell-out crowd.
The Cougars held a 3-0 lead at halftime against Utah, marking the 10th time in 11 games this season BYU has held the lead at intermission. It also marks the seventh time in 11 games that the Cougars have held their opponent to seven or fewer points in the opening half. BYU has led at halftime in 23 of the last 24 games. During those 23 games, the team is 20-3.
Sophomore quarterback Max Hall totaled 269 yards passing on 17-of-40 attempts in BYU's 17-10 victory over Utah to clinch the Cougars' second straight outright MWC championship. Hall, playing in his first-career game against Utah, led BYU to a fourth quarter comeback victory. With just 1:34 left in the game and BYU trailing 9-10, Hall took the Cougars up the field in a nine-play, 56 second drive that was capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Harvey Unga. On a critical fourth-and-18, Hall found Austin Collie running down the right sideline for a 49-yard hookup that kept the game alive. On the season, Hall has completed 59.3 percent of his attempts (258-435) and is averaging a league-leading 308.2 yards per game. Hall is on pace to pass for nearly 3,700 yards on the season and rank among the top-10 single-season performances in BYU football history.
Freshman kicker Mitch Payne booted a 22-yard field goal with 4:47 remaining in the first half to give BYU a 3-0 lead. The score marked the 21st time in the last 23 games BYU has scored first. BYU is 19-2 in those 21 games.
SEEING PITTA FROM THE POCKET
Sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta ranks fifth in the nation among all tight ends. Pitta is averaging nearly 70 yards per game and has produced four touchdowns on the season. Pitta caught five receptions for 114 yards last month against Air Force and racked up 113 receiving yards against Tulsa. The last BYU player to have two consecutive games with 100+ yards receiving was Jonny Harline in 2006. Harline totaled 118 yards against Utah and racked up 181 receiving yards the following game against Oregon in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl. Pitta was credited with four receptions for 70 yards in the Cougars' 35-16 victory over Colorado State. So far this season, Max Hall and Dennis Pitta have teamed up on 50 balls for 728 yards. Pitta is averaging over 66 yards receiving per game.
The Cougars have scored 41 touchdowns on the season. Of the 41 TD's, 21 have been scored via the passing game while 20 have been scored on the ground. Running back Harvey Unga leads the team with 13 touchdowns, including 10 rushing touchdowns while sophomore receiver Austin Collie has a team-leading five touchdown receptions.
HOME WIN STREAK CONTINUES
The Cougars' 17-10 victory over Utah extended BYU's home win streak to 12 straight games. The last time the Cougars won 12 consecutive home games was 16 seasons ago when the team won 17 in a row from October 7, 1989 to November 23, 1991.
MWC ROAD WARRIORS
BYU's victory at Wyoming marked the third road win of the season and extend the Cougars' conference road win streak to 10 straight MWC road victories. The current streak started with a 27-24 win at New Mexico during the 2005 season.The streak marks the most consecutive road wins in league play since the Cougars won 10 straight from Oct. 17, 1992 to Oct. 22, 1994.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE
The Cougars currently have the 10th longest streak in the nation of consecutive games without returning a kickoff for a touchdown. BYU has been unable to accomplish the feat in 116 straight games. Mike Rigell is the last Cougar to return a kickoff for a touchdown. Rigell turned in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.
THE TONGAN TRIO
BYU's Tongan Trio, featuring running backs Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna and Harvey Unga, was back in action against Eastern Washington. Vakapuna broke his hand Sept. 15 against Tulsa and missed the next three weeks following surgery. The junior carried the ball 15 times for 37 yards against the Eagles. Tonga, Unga and Vakapuna have combined for 1,449 rushing yards and 852 yards receiving through the first 11 games, averaging 209.2 all-purpose yards per game. The Tongan Threesome has accounted for 46 percent of the Cougars' total offense. Tonga and Unga have been credited with 85 percent of the team's total rushing yards and 25 percent of the team's receiving yardage.
UNGA MAKING CLAIM FOR TOP FRESHMAN HONORS
Freshman running back Harvey Unga rushed 23 times for 141 yards against Utah giving him a season total of 1,050 yards rushing on the season. Unga, who is BYU's all-time rushing freshman, also scored the game-winnng touchdown. Unga was credited with 168 total yards against the Utes, including one reception for 27 yards. Unga is the first running back in BYU history to turn in six 100-yard rushing games during his freshman season. Against Eastern Washington, Unga was credited with 21 carries for 145 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Unga also totaled a team-high 57 yards receiving on four receptions, including a 22-yard touchdown to give BYU a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Unga totaled a game-high 202 all-purpose yards, marking the second straight game he had produced over 200 all-purpose yards. Unga has a team-leading 1,050 yards rushing on the season, averaging 95.5 yards per game. All totaled, Unga accounts for 49 percent of BYU's total rushing attempts and 69 percent of the team's total rushing yards.
DO NOT ENTER
The BYU defense has kept its opponent from reaching the end zone 23 out of the 44 quarters it has played this season. The Cougars' opponents have also been held without a first-half touchdown seven times in 2007.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
MWC sacks leader, Jan Jorgensen, recorded two sacks against the Utes giving him 10.5 sacks for the season. Jorgensen's sacks came with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the first and third quarters. The sophomore DL threw Utah QB Brian Johnson to the grass on a first-and-10 for a loss of nine yards in the first quarter and a loss of six in the third. Jorgensen has recorded a sack in four straight games.
WHAT HAS BYU DONE THAT NO OTHER TEAM HAS DONE?
BYU is the only team in the nation that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher. Prior to Saturday's game, LSU had not allowed a 100-yard rusher; however, Arkansas' Darren McFadden rushed for 206 yards in the Razorbacks' overtime victory in Baton Rouge. Following is a look at the top rusher for each of the Cougars' 10 opponents:
Utah: Mack, 56 yards
Wyoming: Seldon, 28 yards
TCU: Dalton, 60 yards
Colorado State: Johnson, 72 yards
Eastern Washington: Morris, 33 yards
UNLV: Summers, 50 yards
New Mexico: Ferguson, 87 yards
Air Force: Smith 47 yards (Hall, 19 yards)
Tulsa: Adams, 79 yards
UCLA: Bell, 79 yards
Arizona: Jennings, 27 yards
SAN DIEGO STATE CONNECTIONS
WELCOME TO MIAMI
San Diego State sophomore wide receiver Jon Toledo's brother, Joe, is a current teammate of former BYU quarterback John Beck on the Miami Dolphins. Toledo was selected by Miami in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, while Beck was the Dolphins' second round pick in this past year's draft.
BACK IN THE DAY
San Diego State assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Bob Elliott was the secondary coach of the Iowa team that faced BYU in the 1991 Holiday Bowl. The Cougars and Hawkeyes played to a 13-13 tie.
OLD STOMPING GROUNDS
Prior to joining BYU's staff, outside linebackers coach Barry Lamb was the defensive coordinator at SDSU from 1989-93.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS
Cougar sophomore defensive lineman Ian Dulan, freshman tight end Kaneakua Friel, sophomore offensive lineman R.J. Willing and Aztec sophomore tight end Waika Spencer all went to Kamehameha High School in Hawaii. Interestingly, all were teammates of each other at some point in their high school careers, with the exception of Friel and Willing who missed being teammates by one year.
BYU senior linebacker Markell Staffieri attended Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, Calif. Torrey Pines is the same school SDSU freshman offensive lineman Austin Bice went to.
Vic So'oto, the Cougars' sophomore tight end and Aztec senior wide receiver Brett Swain were teammates at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, Calif.
San Diego State wide receivers Marcus Montgomery and Roberto Wallace were teammates of BYU defensive lineman Russell Tialavea at Oceanside High School in Oceanside, Calif. Montgomery graduated one year ahead of Tialavea and Wallace. Graduating from Oceanside before all of them was Jose Perez, the Aztecs' redshirt freshman defensive back.
Saturday's game will feature another pair of former teammates on opposite sides of the ball. Cougar freshman defensive back G Pittman and Aztec freshman wide receiver Vincent Brown both played for Rancho Cucamonga High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Both graduated in 2006.
Freshman running back Harvey Unga rushed 23 times for 141 yards against Utah, becoming the first freshman running back in BYU history to rush for more than a 1,000 yards in a season. Unga has totaled 1,650 total yards (1,050 rushing and 600 receiving) on the season, averaging 95.5 yards rushing and 54.5 yards receiving.
Sophomore quarterback Max Hall threw for 269 yards, setting a new single-season MWC sophomore record for total offense.