Cougars to Host Top-ranked USC

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

BYU TO TAKE ON NO. 1 RANKED USC

Following a 37-10 loss at Stanford last weekend, BYU returns to LaVell Edwards Stadium to face No. 1 ranked and returning National Champion USC. The Trojans enter the game with a 2-0 record following a victory over Virginia Tech in the BCA Classic and a 49-0 rout of Colorado State. The Cougars enter the contest at 1-1 following an opening-game victory over Notre Dame at home and the loss to Stanford last weekend. This will be the second meeting between the two schools. USC holds a 1-0 lead in the series following a 35-18 victory over BYU last year at the Coliseum.

SETTING THE GAME

KICKOFF: 8 p.m. (MST)

SITE: LaVell Edwards Stadium (64,050)

TELEVISION (National): ESPN; Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried, and Erin Andrews

RADIO (Local): KSL-Radio; 1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons, Bill Riley)

RADIO (National): Westwood One (John Castleberry, Foge Fazio)

INTERNET WEBCAST: http://www.byucougars.com/football

THE SERIES: USC leads 1-0

IN PROVO: First-ever meeting in Provo

LAST MEETING: Sept. 6, 2003 (USC 35-18)

LAST MEETING IN PROVO: First-ever meeting in Provo

BYU AGAINST THE PAC-10

During Gary Crowton's tenure at BYU, the Cougars have posted a 1-3 victory against the Pac-10. BYU's only victory over a Pac-10 team came against Cal in the 2001 season. Last year BYU lost to both Stanford and USC of the Pac-10. The Cougars have played every team in the Pac-10 at least once, posting a 26-53-1 (.329). Current Pac-10 teams Arizona and Arizona State competed against BYU in the WAC until the two teams jointed the Pac-10.

OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?

When the Cougars face off against USC this weekend, it will not only be a match-up between two college football teams, but also of two brothers. BYU wide receiver Todd Watkins will face off against his brother Travis, a Trojan offensive lineman. Besides the Watkins connection, BYU also boasts four sets of brothers on this year's roster: wide receivers Austin and Zac Collie, junior college transfers Gary and Greg Lovely, defensive linemen Michael and Daniel Marquardt, and Quinn and David Gooch. The Collies' father, Scott, also played football at BYU from 1979 to 1982 and later for the Hamilton Tigercats of the CFL. The Gooches' father, Gary, also has ties to BYU. Gary Gooch suited up for the Cougar basketball team from 1958 to 1959.

RECORD AGAINST THE RETURNING NATIONAL CHAMPION

Saturday's meeting between BYU and USC will be the third time BYU has faced off against the reigning National Champion. The first was BYU's stunning victory over the No. 1 ranked University of Miami in 1990. The Cougars defeated the Hurricaines behind the passing of junior quarterback Ty Detmer, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy later that year. BYU's second game against the defending National Champion came in 2000 when the Cougars sqaured off against 1999 National Champion, Florida State. The Seminoles defeated the Cougars 29-3 in the 2000 season-opening game for both teams.

COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS

TELEVISION: Saturday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPN. The game will be broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. MST. Ron Franklin will be calling the action with Mike Gottfried serving as color commentator and Erin Andrews will be reporting from the sideline.

RADIO: Fans can tune into KSL Radio--the 50,000-watt home of the Cougars--and follow the action with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley. The game can also be heard on Dish Network channel 980. The game will also be broadcast to a national audience on the Westwood One radion network. John Castleberry will handle the play-by-play, while Foge Fazio will offer expert analysis.

INTERNET: A live webcast of the game, which includes play-by-play and up-to-the-minute statistics , can be viewed by logging on to: http://www.byucougars.com/football

In addition to the webcast, a live audio stream will be available on the following URLs:

http://ksl.com and http://www.byuradio.org

CHOW RETURNS TO EDWARDS STADIUM FOR FIRST TIME

Former BYU offensive coordinator Norm Chow will return to coach in LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time since he left BYU following the 1999 season. Chow, who is now the offensive coordinator at USC, coached alongside LaVell Edwards at BYU for 27 seasons, beginning his career with the Cougars as a graduate assistant in 1983. He was named the offensive coordinator in 1982 and helped tutor Cougar greats, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer and Steve Sarkisian. During Chow's time as an offensive coordinator at BYU, the Cougars led the nation in total offense three times.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU's projected starting offensive line averages an enormous 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds. They will face a Trojan defensive line that averages 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds. When USC has the ball, Cougar defensive linemen that average 6-foot-4 and 293 pounds will face a Trojan front five that are listed at 6-foot-4 and 317 pounds, including two players weighing in at 350 or greater.

COUGARS FACE TOUGH SCHEDULE

BYU is scheduled to play the ninth toughest non conference schedule based on opponents' winning percentage last season. The Cougars non conference schedule includes Notre Dame, Stanford, co-National Champion and preseason No. 1 USC and Boise State who combined for a 34-16 record. The overall record of BYU's opponents including Mountain West Conference teams is 82-54 (.603). Five of the Cougars' 11 opponents went to a bowl game last year. The teams finished with a 3-2 bowl record, including USC's victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl that earned the Trojans a share of the National Title. Following the second week of the season, BYU's opponents are 13-8, with their non-conference opponents posting a 7-1 record through Sept. 11.

LAST WEEK: BYU AT STANFORD

Stanford forced seven BYU turnovers and scored the final 37 points of the game as the Cardinal defeated the Cougars 37-10 Saturday night. BYU was led for much of the night by third-string quarterback Jason Beck, who replaced starter Matt Berry mid-way through the first drive after Berry suffered a hand injury. Beck led the Cougars to 10 first-quarter points on a Fahu Tahi run and a field goal by Matt Payne. Following Payne's field goal, the Cardinal took over. Stanford returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and held BYU scoreless for the remainder of the game. In his first-ever Division I appearance, Beck completed 23-of-46 passes for 232 yards and three interceptions. On the night, the Cougars used four quarterbacks. Besides Beck and Berry, BYU used first-string quarterback John Beck, who was listed as possible going into the game, and Jackson Brown. BYU struggled with turnovers all night, finishing the game with seven turnovers the most turnovers by a Cougar team since 2001 against Hawaii when BYU also committed seven turnovers.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

After two games of the 2004 season, BYU ranks 24th in the nation in passing offense with 275.5 yards per game. Junior college transfer Todd Watkins has benefited from the Cougars passing offense as he ranks 22nd in the nation and third in the MWC in receiving yards per game. BYU will face a tough defense this week when USC comes into LaVell Edwards stadium. The Trojans rank 29th in the nation in total defense, but are only 49th best out of 117 teams against the pass. USC's defense has also been tough to score on. The Trojans rank fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing a paltry 6.5 points per game. USC has also forced a Pac-10 leading eight turnovers

DEFENSIVE NOTES

Defensively, the Cougars rank seventh in the nation against the rush, allowing just 41.5 yards rushing per game. BYU also ranks first in the conference and 45th in the nation in total defense. They will face an offense that boasts running backs LenDale White, who is 30th in the nation in rushing with 100.5 yards per game and Reggie Bush, who is seventh in the nation in scoring with a 12 p.p.g. average. The Trojans also sport Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Leinart, who ranks 15th in the nation in pass efficiency.

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