Cougars, Horned Frogs to Battle Thursday Night

Looking to increase their lead in the MWC standings, the Cougars will take on TCU on Thursday. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Riding a five-game win streak, the league-leading BYU Cougars will play host to TCU (5-4, 2-3) on Thursday, Nov. 8, beginning at 7 p.m. (MT). The game will be broadcast live nationally on Versus.

With last Saturday's win over CSU, BYU (6-2, 4-0) remains atop the Mountain West Conference with a perfect 4-0 record. The Cougars have won a MWC record 12 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 12 straight from November 20, 1982 to October 19, 1985.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall became the first coach in BYU history to qualify for three straight bowl games in his first three years with the victory against CSU. TCU (5-4, 2-3) is coming off a 37-0 victory over New Mexico. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT) and will be broadcast nationally on VERSUS.

THE BYU-TCU SERIES

BYU and TCU have met six times over the past 20 years with the Cougars holding a 4-2 record over the Horned Frogs. As MWC opponents, the teams are 1-1 against each other. TCU won the first ever game against BYU, 33-12, in 1987. Back then, the Horned Frogs played in the Southwest Conference while the Cougars competed in the WAC. The following year, BYU exacted revenge with a 31-18 victory at Cougar Stadium. Interestingly, last season's 31-17 win against then-No. 15 ranked TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, began BYU's current 13-game winning streak against the MWC and was the Cougars' first road win over a nationally-ranked opponent since September 20, 1997 (at Arizona State).

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Thursday's game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on VERSUS. Joe Beninati will call the action, Glenn Parker will lend analysis and Tim Neverett will report from the sidelines. Beninati has worked for over a decade as the play-by-play announcer for the Washington Capitals. The Capital Region Emmy Award winning broadcaster has also called action for the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and college football. Parker is a former NFL offensive lineman who has been an analyst for the NFL Network show PLAYBOOK and the main college football analyst for CSTV. Neverett, a 22-year sports broadcaster, can be heard on ESPN radio in Denver and covers the Colorado Rockies as well as other sports in the Rocky Mountain region.

A LOOK BACK: BYU 35-Colorado State 16

BYU (6-2, 4-0) became bowl-eligible for its third straight year under the reign of head coach Bronco Mendenhall with a 35-16 win against Colorado State (1-8, 1-5). Freshman running back Harvey Unga's 51 rushing yards moved him into the top spot on the list of BYU's all-time freshman rushing leaders, surpassing Ronney Jenkins' previous record of 733 yards. Sophomore quarterback Max Hall led the Cougars completing 22-of-30 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns. Hall connected with Austin Collie for a total of 111 yards, Collie's second 100-yard game this season. BYU had a second 100-yard receiver in Unga, who racked up 110 yards.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

A win against TCU would give the Cougars their seventh victory of the season, including their sixth straight. Since 1932, the Cougars have recorded 29 seasons with at least seven wins.

A victory would also give the Cougars a 5-0 league record, extending the team's MWC record win streak to 13 straight, marking the longest conference win streak for the Cougars since winning 13 straight from November 15, 1983 to October 19, 1985. That 13-game streak was actually part of a school-record, 25-game league win streak that dated from October 2, 1982 until October 19, 1985.

A loss against TCU would drop the Cougars' advantage in the league standings to just one game over Air Force, Utah and New Mexico. The Cougars need to win two of the remaining four games in order to clinch at least a share of the MWC title. With three wins in the remaining four games, the Cougars would win their league-best fourth MWC title, icnluding their second straight.

A win on Thursday against TCU would mark the 11th straight win at Edwards Stadium -- the longest home win streak since winning 17 straight from October 7, 1989 to November 23, 1991. BYU is 13-3 in Provo during the Bronco Mendenhall era.

BOWL ELIGIBLE

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.

FOUR STRAIGHT SELLOUTS

The Colorado State game marked the fourth consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1999 season the Cougars have had four sellouts during the same season. Since 1999, the Cougars are 11-4 in games with a sell-out crowd.

COUGARS CONTINUE TO WIN

With a 35-16 victory over Colorado State, the Cougars have won 16 of their last 18 games, dating back to last season. BYU is currently on a five-game win streak, including a 19-point win over CSU, a 35-point victory over Eastern Washington, a 25-point win over Air Force, and road wins over New Mexico and UNLV.

A BYU COACHING FIRST

With a 35-16 win over Colorado State, the Cougars picked up their sixth win of the season, qualifying for their third straight bowl game. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall became the first coach in BYU history to qualify for three straight bowl games in his first three years. Mendenhall currently ranks second behind LaVell Edwards with the most post-season appearances in BYU football history.

RUSHING DOMINANCE

Entering Thursday's game against TCU, the Cougars own a record of 236-40-1when 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 75-5 since 1991 when rushing for 150 or more yards.) During the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 20-3 when rushing for 100 or more yards and 14-2 when rushing for 150 or more yards.

THE 200-YARD MARK

After racking up 221 yards rushing against Eastern Washington, BYU has won 59 straight games when rushing for 200 or more yards in a game, dating back to the 1985 season. The Cougars' last loss when rushing for 200 or more yards in a game came on October 26, 1985 (vs. UTEP).

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 TCU defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-2, 265 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars' front three average 6-feet-2, 270 pounds, while the Horned Frogs' offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 296 pounds per man.

HOMELAND SECURITY

The victory over Colorado State ran BYU's consecutive home winning streak to 10 games, dating back to last season. Over that span, the Cougars have beaten their opponents by an average of 30.3 points per game. During that stretch, BYU is allowing just 10.8 points per game. The Cougars have allowed seven points or less in seven of the last 10 home games. In the first four games this season, the Cougars have outscored opponents by an average 23 points per game and have allowed just nine 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 35-16 victory over Colorado State marked the 10th straight victory at Edwards Stadium -- the longest home win streak since winning 10 straight from October 26, 2000 to September 6, 2002. BYU is 13-3 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 35-16 win over Colorado State, the Cougars remain atop the MWC with a 4-0 record. BYU has won a MWC record 12 straight league games, dating back to a 31-17, road victory over No. 15 TCU last season. The streak includes a record nine straight road victories against league opponents. The Cougars' 12-game league win streak is the longest since winning 25 straight October 2, 1982 to October 19, 1985. BYU owns a league-best 42-20 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.

CONSECUTIVE SELLOUTS

The Cougars' 35-16 victory over Colorado Statemarked the fourth consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1999 season the Cougars have had at least four 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 11-4 in games with a sell-out crowd. Following is a look at the 15 sellouts since the 1999 season.

FIRST-HALF DOMINANCE

The Cougars held a 21-3 lead at halftime against CSU, marking the seventh time in eight games this season BYU has held the lead at intermission. The Rams' three points is the fewest BYU has allowed this year since its first-half shutout against Air Force. It also marks the fourth time in eight games that the Cougars have held their opponent to seven or fewer points in the opening half. The 18-point lead marked the largest halftime lead of the season. The Cougars have led at halftime in 20 of the last 21 games. During those 20 games, the team is 17-3.

FIRST BLOOD

Michael Reed's 9-yard touchdown reception from Max Hall gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 8:57 remaining in the first quarter against Colorado State. BYU has scored first in 18 of the last 20 games. BYU is 16-2 in those 18 games.

MARGIN OF VICTORY

Max Hall barreled into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter against Eastern Washington to put the Cougars ahead 35-7. The 28-point margin marked the largest lead BYU has had at any point this season, and the largest margin since a 29-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Unga gave the Cougars a 24-0 lead over Air Force. The game's final score of 42-7 marked BYU's largest margin of victory of the season.

SEEING PITTA FROM THE POCKET

Sophomore tight end Dennis 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 36 balls for a team-leading 547 yards. Pitta is averaging over 68.4 yards receiving per game. With both Pitta and Hall being only sophomores, they are on pace to become BYU's all-time leading quarterback-receiver duo. Currently, Ty Detmer and tight end Chris Smith own that distinction with 2,221 yards between 1988 and 1990.

BALANCED ATTACK

The Cougars have scored 32 touchdowns on the season. Of the 32 TD's, 17 have been scored via the passing game while 15 have been scored on the ground. Running back Manase Tonga leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns while sophomore receiver Austin Collie has a team-leading five touchdown receptions. Freshman running back Harvey Unga has eight touchdowns on the season, including five rushing and three receiving.

HOME WIN STREAK CONTINUES

The Cougars' 35-16 victory over Colorado State extended BYU's home win streak to 10 straight games. The Cougars will look to win their 11th consecutive home game for the first time since winning 17 in a row from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991 when they play host to TCU on November 8.

BEST OF THE BUNCH

Following the 2004 season, Bronco Mendenhall was one of 13 men who received their first head football coaching job at the Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) level. Of those 13 coaches, Bronco Mendenhall has compiled the best overall record to date. Following is a list of the coaches and their current records.

Head Coach, School (Record)

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU (22-10)

Kyle Whittingham, Utah (21-13)

Charlie Weis, Notre Dame (20-14)

Bill Cubit, Western Michigan (18-15)

Skip Holtz, Eastern Carolina (18-16)

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State (16-17)

Dave Wannstedt, Pittsburgh (15-17)

Shane Montgomery, Miami (OH) (14-19)

Mark Snyder, Marshall (10-22)

Ed Orgeron, Mississippi (10-23)

Greg Robinson, Syracuse (7-25)

Mike Sanford, UNLV (6-26)

Brent Guy, Utah State (4-28)

BALL HOGS

Entering Thursday's game against TCU, BYU ranked third in the nation in time of possession, averaging 33:23 minutes per game. In the Cougars' last MWC game, however, BYU owned the ball for just 28:13 compared to CSU's 31:47 total possession time. The game marked just the first time all season that the Cougars did not finish the game with a greater time of possession than their opponent. During the game the Rams had two drives that took longer than five-and-a-half minutes, while limiting BYU's longest drive to just 4:07.

DON'T LOOK BACK

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 22-4 when leading at halftime and 21-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter. The loss at Tulsa marked the first time since September 16, 2006 the Cougars lost a game after holding a halftime lead. BYU led 34-31 at halftime against the Golden Hurricane; however, TU outscored the Cougars 24-13 in the second half to win the game, 55-47.

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