Cougars Host Utes in Season Finale

PROVO -- After suffering its seventh defeat of the season -- a 33-14 loss at Notre Dame -- BYU will return to Edwards Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 22 to take on in-state rival Utah in the 2003 season finale. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. (MST). The game will be broadcast regionally by ESPN+Plus, and will be carried locally on KJZZ, Ch. 14. The Cougars will enter the game having won just one of their previous five games, including back-to-back losses against Boise State and Notre Dame. The Utes, who have clinched at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title, will enter the contest needing a victory to win their first outright league championship since 1957.

BATTLE FOR THE BOOT

First instituted in 1971, the Beehive Boot is the symbol of gridiron supremacy in the state of Utah. Estimated to be over 100 years old, the Beehive Boot is an authentic piece of Utah history. Unlike other rivalry trophies, the Beehive Boot is presented to the team with the best record against all in-state opponents. BYU has won the boot 19 times in the past 28 years, including a stretch of five straight years from 1983 to 1987. Utah has won the boot seven times, while Utah State has claimed it six times over the years. The Boot currently resides at Utah after beating both BYU and Utah State last season, ending a two-year stretch at BYU. While Utah defeated Utah State earlier this season, the Cougars have not played an in-state opponent. The winner of Saturday's game will win the boot for the 2003 season.

COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS

TELEVISION - Saturday's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by ESPN+Plus on KJZZ, Ch. 14 in Salt Lake City. The game will be broadcast beginning at 1 p.m. (MST). Gary Bender will call the action with J.C. Pearson lending expert analysis and Anne Marie Anderson reporting from the sidelines.

RADIO - Fans can tune to 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.

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://byucougars.com/Schedule.jsp?SP=130&YR=2003

In addition, a live audio stream of the game will be available at both of the following URL's:

http://ksl.com

A LITTLE HISTORY: BYU vs. Utah

Saturday's in-state battle between Utah and BYU will mark the 79th meeting between the two schools, dating back to 1922. Utah owns a 46-28-4 lead in the 78-year rivalry. Prior to 1922, Utah and then B.Y. Academy met six times, posting an identical 3-3 record. (The two teams met three times in 1896, twice in 1897 and once in 1898 before the Academy disbanded its football team.For various reasons, including the death of a player, the Academy did not field a team again until 1922.) Over the past six seasons, no team has won by more than seven points. Interestingly, no team has ever won more than nine straight games in the series. Utah reeled off nine straight wins from 1929 to 1937, and while it took some 50 years, BYU managed to win nine straight from 1979 to 1987. It wasn't until the 1969 season that BYU and Utah started playing each other at the end of the season, as opposed to earlier in the year. For many years, the Utah-Utah State game marked the end of the Ute's regular season. However, since 1969, BYU and Utah have met 24 different times in the regular-season finale (for one or both teams.) This year's game will mark the regular-season ending for both teams. The Cougars own an 18-7 record against Utah when playing in the final game of the regular season, including a stretch of 13 straight victories from 1974 to 1992. Since 1993 however, the Utes have posted a 6-3 mark against the Cougars when playing in the regular-season finale. Since the Mountain West Conference was formed in 1999, the Cougars and Utes have battled to a 2-2 record. With BYU needing a win in 1999 to win the MWC title outright, the Utes upset the Cougars in Provo, 20-17. A year later, the Cougars overcame improbable odds to record one of the greatest come-back victories in BYU history, upending Utah, 34-27, in LaVell Edwards' final game. The Cougars claimed the win again in 2001, escaping with the 24-21 win to claim the first undefeated season in the league's history and the outright MWC title. In 2002, the Utes gave Ron McBride a 13-6 win in what would become his final season as head coach, and snuffed the Cougars' shot at a bowl bid.

THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 361 GAMES AND COUNTING

Following Rey Brathwaite's 18-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Notre Dame, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 361 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their rosters who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.

IN THE TRENCHES

The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,600 pounds, averaging 320 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a Utah defensive line (two sophomores, a junior and a senior) that tips the scales at an average 278.8 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (three seniors) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Ute offensive line (three juniors, one freshman and one senior) average 307 pounds per man.

SATURDAY'S STORYLINES

- With an 8-2 record on the season, including a 5-2 league mark, Utah needs a win on Saturday to claim its first outright league championship title since 1957.

- BYU will honor 24 players, who will be playing in their final game, in a brief ceremony 20 minutes prior to kickoff. The list of players who will be receiving their senior blankets include: Chad Barney, Colby Bockwoldt, Josh Brandon, Brent Carlson, Quinn Christensen, Toby Christensen, Tyson Dunham, Jernaro Gilford, Ryan Gunderson, Forrest Hansen, Brandon Heaney, Scott Jackson, Justin Jory, Levi Madarieta, Ammon Mauga, Jared Meibos, Kip Nielson, Ifo Pili, Brandon Stephens, Mike Tanner, J.R. Thulin, Kyle Wilson, Bill Wright, Vincent Xanthos.

- Senior defensive tackle Ifo Pili will be participating in his 45th game as a Cougars, dating back to the 1998 season, while senior linebacker Colby Bockwoldt will be playing in his 44th game.

- A win on Saturday would give the Cougars a 4-3 league record. If BYU, Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming win this weekend, the Cougars could end up in a four-way tie for second place. If BYU wins, and New Mexico beats Wyoming, the Cougars would end in a potential tie for third place.

- A loss on Saturday would give the Cougars a 4-8 overall record -- its lowest winning percentage since posting a 3-8 record in 1970.

- No matter Saturday's outcome, BYU will finish the season with its second straight losing season. This year's sub-.500 record marks the first time since the 1970 and 1971 seasons the Cougars have posted back-to-back losing seasons. As a result, the team will not qualify for a post-season bowl bid. Having also missed out on a bowl invitation last season (by one game), it marks the first time since the 1972 and 1973 campaigns BYU has not qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back seasons.

- The Cougars enter Saturday's game having lost two straight games. Should BYU lose on Saturday, it will mark only the fourth time in the past 10 seasons the Cougars have lost three straight games in a single season.

COUGARS EQUAL 35-YEAR OLD RECORD

With the Cougars 50-12 loss against Boise State on Thursday, Oct. 30, the Cougars have lost four straight games at home for the first time since 1968 -- a 35-year-old record. After opening the season with a 24-13 win over Georgia Tech at Edwards Stadium, the Cougars have dropped four straight home games, posting a 1-4 mark at LaVell Edwards Stadium on the season. The Cougars lost an 18-14 decision to Stanford on Sept. 20, followed by a 24-10 loss against Air Force on Sept. 27. Most recently, BYU lost to Colorado State, 58-13, on Oct. 9, marking the most points ever allowed and the largest losing margin ever recorded in Provo. The record was equaled over two weeks ago after a 50-12 loss on Oct. 30 against Boise State -- the night before Halloween. In 1968, under head coach Tommy Hudspeth, the Cougars were 0-5 in Provo. Even if the Cougars defeat Utah at home in the season finale on Nov. 22, the Cougars will have suffered their first home losing season in 32 years.

PAPER OR PLASTIC

Against San Diego State, BYU recorded six sacks, improving its season total to 17. Against Colorado State and Wyoming the Cougars sacked the opposing quarterback three times each contest. The Cougars managed two sacks against Notre Dame to bring the season total to 25. In the season's first five games the Cougars had recorded 11 sacks, averaging 2.2 sacks per contest. Brady Poppinga leads the team with five sacks, followed by Colby Bockwoldt with 4.5 and John Denney with 3.5. BYU has seven players with at least two sacks on the season.

LAST TIME OUT (Notre Dame 33, BYU 14)

Notre Dame's Julius Jones ran for 161 yards on 25 carries, leading the Fighting Irish to a 33-14 win over BYU on Saturday in front of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium. The Cougars continued to struggle with turnovers, coughing up the ball four different times, including three in the first half. Entering the game ranked 103rd in the nation -- with a minus-10 turnover margin -- BYU turned the ball over in its first two possessions of the game and gave it up twice more throughout the game. The Irish scored six of their 33 points as a result. Notre Dame struck first after J.J. Fitzpatrick connected on a 27-yard field goal with 7:38 left in the first quarter, capping a four --play, five-yard drive that started as a result of a Fui Vakapuna fumble at BYU's own 19-yard line. The Cougars looked as though their luck might be changing on the following drive. Rey Brathwaite was credited with 33 of BYU's 76 yards in the four-play drive, giving the Cougars a 7-6 lead. Brathwaite scored on an 18-yard run -- his second rushing touchdown of the season and his first in over 18 quarters. Notre Dame added two more field goals by Fitzpatrick, including one as a result of another BYU turnover, to take a 9-7 lead with 3:38 left in the first half. Just over two minutes later, Jones lunged in the endzone for a one-yard touchdown, giving the Irish a 16-7 lead. In the second half, the Irish were all about controlling the ball and consequently, the tempo of the game. The Irish defense held the BYU offense at bay for much of the second half, allowing the Cougars just 26 plays in the entire second half. The Cougars had five yards passing, but minus --5 yards rushing in the entire third quarter. After Jones scored on a 23-yard run in the third quarter, and Fitzpatrick added another field goal early in the fourth quarter, BYU quarterback Matt Berry scored a touchdown on a one-yard run to cut the Notre Dame lead to 26-14. The Irish added one more touchdown by Jones -- his third of the night -- with under a minute in the game, bringing the final score to 33-14. Berry finished the night 17-of-29 for 231 yards and one rushing touchdown. Brathwaite totaled 77 yards on 14 carries. Junior safety Aaron Francisco led the BYU defense with 13 total tackles, while James Allen had a team-leading six solo takedowns. With the loss, the Cougars fall to 4-7 on the season, and as a result, will face their second straight losing season, something that hasn't happened at BYU since the 1970 and 1971 seasons.

WHAT A PAYNE

Junior punter/kicker Matt Payne leads the Mountain West in punting and ranks 13th nationally with an average 44.2 yards per punt. He is also third in the league after connecting on 14-of-17 (.824) field goals, including a long of 53 yards--the second longest field goal in BYU history behind a 56-yarder by Owen Pochman. Payne also leads the Mountain West with a perfect 20-for-20 mark in point-after attempts. Twenty of Payne's 71 punts have landed inside the 20-yard line. Against UNLV, Payne nailed 40- and 50-yard field goals and had five punts for 258 yards, averaging a career-high 51.6 yards per punt.

PLAYING AT EDWARDS STADIUM

With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo during the 2001 season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home season since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998. BYU finished the 2002 season with a 4-2 home record, marking the team's 31st consecutive non-losing home season. The Cougars are 169-57 (.748) in Provo, dating back 40 years (1963), including a 10-7 (.589) home record against MWC opponents since 1999. However, during the 2003 season, the Cougars have lost four out of their last five, marking the first time since 1968 the Cougars have lost four games at home in a single season.

A BRATH OF FRESH AIR

After running back Marcus Whalen went down with a foot injury in the Cougars' season-opener against Georgia Tech, junior running back Reynaldo Brathwaite burst on to the scene and hasn't looked back. Brathwaite leads the Cougars with 812 yards rushing on the season, ranking fourth overall in the Mountain West. Brathwaite, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior has 145 carries on the season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He has posted a BYU record 95-yard touchdown run (at San Diego State), in addition to an 89-yard run in the Cougars' 10-7 win at New Mexico.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

The Cougar defense, which ranks 18th nationally and yields 315 yards per game, will face a Utah offense that is 38th in the nation in total offense with an average of 404.6 yards per game. Ute quarterback Alex Smith is 1st in the MWC and 7th in the nation in pass efficiency. The Cougar defense is 16th in the nation against the pass yielding just 182 yards per game in the air. BYU's defense is also tied for 28th in the nation in interceptions with 13. Jernaro Gilford, John Denney, Colby Bockwoldt and Aaron Francisco shate the team lead in interceptions with two a piece. nine Cougars have at least one interception. Against UNLV, Francisco grabbed his first interception of the year to seal the Cougars' victory in overtime. The following week Francisco intercepted Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie--the first interception Dinwiddie had thrown in 173 attempts and only his second of the season. The BYU defense has scored one touchdown on the season. Interestingly, that touchdown came against San Diego State, marking the third straight game at Qualcomm Stadium the Cougars have scored a defensive touchdown ('99, Hans Olson; '01, Isaac Kelley; '03, Colby Bockwoldt.). On the season, the BYU defense has prevented its opponents from gaining its season average in eight of ten games.

TURNOVER A NEW LEAF

Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. After 11 games, BYU has produced a minus 13 turnover margin. While recording four turnovers against Georgia Tech, allowing just two, the Cougars gave up five turnovers against USC, while forcing just three turnovers. In a defensive battle at New Mexico, the Cougars recovered one fumble, and did not allow a single turnover. Stanford won the turnover battle, throwing two interceptions while recovering three BYU fumbles and intercepting two passes. Against Air Force BYU had one interception and lost one fumble. Against San Diego State BYU recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass, while the Aztecs recovered three Cougar fumbles. Against Colorado State, BYU recovered two fumbles, while the Rams also recovered two fumbles and recorded two interceptions. Wyoming and BYU committed three turnovers a piece. BYU produced a minus two turnover margin against the Rebels. The Cougars had a minus three turnover margin against both Bosie State and Notre Dame On the season BYU committed 36 turnovers, while its opponents have committed 22.

IN THE RED ZONE

On the season, the Cougars have scored 10 of 26 times it has entered the Red Zone. In the season-opener against Georgia Tech, BYU scored on 3-of-4 trips inside Georgia Tech's 20-yard line, including two touchdowns and a field goal. Defensively, the Cougars gave up two field goals, and forced a fumble inside the Red Zone. In one of the best red zone defensive series of the night, Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the Cougars' four-yard line. Linebacker Mike Tanner and Cougarback Aaron Francisco stopped P.J. Daniels for a one-yard to bring up second and goal from the three-yard line. After a delay of game penalty, Tech quarterback Reggie Ball threw the ball away as the Cougars applied exceptional defensive coverage. Facing third and goal from the eight-yard line, defensive end John Denney swatted Ball's pass attempt to force fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The Yellow Jackets managed a a 26-yard field goal after having the ball inside the four-yard line. Against fourth-ranked USC, the Cougars scored on three-of-three attempts inside the Red Zone, including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Daniel Coats. Following is a game-by-game look at both the Cougars' Red Zone offense and Red Zone defense on the season. At UNLV, the Cougars entered the Red Zone four times and scored three touchdowns and one field goal, including the game winning touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Toby Christensen in overtime.

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