GAME NOTES: BYU looks to Remain Atop MWC

A diving Nate Meikle stretches out for the end zone in BYU's 52-7 win over UNLV. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- After another lopsided home victory for BYU, the Cougars head back out on the road to take on Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo. After BYU won and Air Force lost last week, the Cougars stand alone in first place in the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars will look to hold on to first place as they take on the Falcons.

LAST WEEK RECAP

For the third consecutive Homecoming game Curtis Brown rushed for more than 140 yards, as BYU (5-2, 3-0) defeated UNLV (1-6, 0-3) 52-7 Saturday afternoon. Brown got 141 of his 148 rushing yards in the first half, pushing him past Jeff Blanc and Lakei Heimuli into second place on BYU's all-time rushing list with 2,717 career yards. The senior running back needs 253 yards to surpass Jamal Willis as the Cougars' all-time rushing yards leader.

"There have been a lot of great players that have come through this program as is attested by the conference championships and the national championship," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "That's who BYU is and was for a long time and you have to be able to run the ball effectively to make that happen. We're very optimistic about the way our program is moving, and Curtis has a tremendous impact in terms of leadership as well as his production on the field."

SERIES INFORMATION

BYU and Air Force will be playing for the 27th time. The Cougars hold a 20-6 all-time series record and have won the past two games. Previously, Air Force had won two of the past three matchups. Since 2001, no game in the serious has been decided by less than 14 points. In 2001, BYU beat Air Force, 63-33. The Falcons got revenge with victories in 2002 (52-9) and 2003 (24-10) before BYU got back on the winning track, defeating Air Force, 41-24, in 2004 and 62-41 last season. The Cougars and Falcons have met every year since 1997 when the two teams were in different divisions of the 16-team WAC. The two teams first played in 1956 with BYU taking home a 34-21 victory.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU's offensive line checks in at an average 6-foot-4, 316.8 pounds. The Cougars' front line will be going up against an Air Force defensive front that averages just over 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. (Advantage: BYU +56.8 pounds per man.) BYU's defensive line weighs in at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Air Force's offensive line averages 6-foot-5, 286 pounds. (Advantage: Air Force +6 pounds per man.)

QUARTER-BECK NOTES

BYU quarterback John Beck continues to put up big numbers on the season, leading the Cougars to 5-2 overall record and a perfect 3-0 mark in conference play. Following his performance against UNLV on Saturday, Beck is one of four finalists for Cingular All-America Player-of-the-Week honors. Beck, a 6-foot-2, 216-pound senior led BYU to a dominating victory over the Rebels on Saturday, connecting on 18-of-23 attempts for 250 yards and four touchdown completions in just three quarters of play.

With his four touchdown completions in the Cougars' 52-7 win over UNLV, Beck moved into fifth place in school history with 63 career touchdown passes, moving past Marc Wilson. Beck is the Mountain West Conference all-time touchdown completions leader. In addition, with another 250 yards passing on Saturday, Beck has 8,939 yards and has moved within 598 yards of passing Jim McMahon for second place on BYU's all-time passing list. Beck now ranks third on the school's all-time total yards list with 8,941, passing Steve Young (8,817) on Saturday.

Beck, a native of Mesa, Ariz., posted a rating of 218.3. Two weeks ago, against San Diego State, Beck had a career-best rating of 245.9. On the season, Beck ranks sixth nationally (and leads the Mountain West Conference with an efficiency rating of 171.93. He leads the country in completion percentage, connecting on 140-of-199 (.704) attempts for 17 touchdowns.

NOTABLE QUOTE

"I think John just continues to run one of the most high-powered offenses in the country like it's second nature. He's not surprised when we do well. I think he's poised and he has his vision; not only each week, but also the long term. His goal is a conference championship and I think he expects each week to go out there and perform at a very high level. It's been fun to watch." -- BYU HEAD COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL

ON A HOT STREAK

Over the past three games, Beck has posted an efficiency rating of 229.2. He has completed over 70 percent of his pass attempts, connecting on 57-of-81 for 838 yards. Beck has thrown 11 touchdown completions in the past three games. During that stretch, the Cougars are averaging over 43 points per game and defeating opponents by an average margin of 29.7 points per game. In the first-quarter alone, the Cougars are outscoring opponents 44-3. In the first half, the Beck-led offense is posting an overall 77-13 advantage by halftime.

BYU QUARTER-BECK SNAPSHOT

ý Leads the nation in completion percentage, connecting on 70.4 percent of his attempts (140-for-199)

ý Ranks sixth nationally and leads the Mountain West Conference with an efficiency rating of 171.93.

ý Ranks fifth nationally and leads the Mountain West Conference with an average 301.7 yards of total offense per game.

ý Has been named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times this season.

ý Has 17 touchdown completions on the season, including 11 in the past three games.

GOOD GRIEF, CURTIS BROWN

Against UNLV, Curtis Brown had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season (Tulsa). Brown rushed for 141 yards in the first half alone. Brown finished the game with a season-best 148 total rushing yards. Brown has now moved into second place all time at BYU with 2,717 total rushing yards, passing both Jeff Blanc (2,663) and Lakei Heimuli (2,710) on Saturday.

WHERE THEY RANK NATIONALLY

Several BYU players rank nationally in various statistical categories:

John Beck

Passing Efficiency: 6th (170.3)

Total Offense: 6th (293.2 yards per game)

Completions: 7th (23.17 per game)

Total Passing Yards: 15th (1,803)

Passing Yards per Game: 5th (300.5)

Points Responsible for: 4th (18 points per game)

Curtis Brown

Rushing: 60th (72.29 yards per game)

Receptions: 44th (5 receptions per game) -- third amongst running backs nationally in this category.

All-purpose yards: 11th (145.29)

Nathan Meikle

Punt Returns: 15th (13.18 yards per return)

Jared McLaughlin

Field Goals: 37th (1.14 per game)

Scoring: 27th (7.86 points per game)

Fui Vakapuna

Scoring: 48th (7 points per game)

Ben Criddle

Solo Tackles: 37th (5 per game)

SCORING DEFENSE

In the first seven games of the 2006 season, BYU has allowed just 111 points. With an average of 15.9 points per game, the Cougars currently ranked 21st in the country in scoring defense. BYU's current average is the lowest scoring defense mark over the first seven games of a season since allowing just 15.4 points per game back in 1988.

TOUCHDOWNS: TAKE YOUR PICK

In the first five games of the 2006 season, BYU has scored 33 touchdowns (one against Arizona, seven against Tulsa, two against Boston College, five against Utah State, four against TCU, seven against San Diego State and seven against UNLV). All totaled, 14 different Cougars have found their way to the end zone for including Fui Vakapuna, Jonny Harline, Matt Allen, Manase Tonga, Daniel Coats, Curtis Brown, Zac Collie, John Beck, Harvey Unga, Justin Robinson, Michael Reed, Dustin Gabriel, McKay Jacobson and Mike Hague.

HOME FIELD DOMINANCE

Since it was built in 1964, the Cougars have fielded several dominating teams. This season, BYU is averaging 46.5 points per game at home while limiting its opponents to just 12. The margin of difference has the Cougars beating their opponents by an average of 34.5 points. The 34.5-point differential (through three games) ranks first in scoring margin in the Stadium's 42-year history.

MWC START

With Saturday's 52-7 victory over UNLV, the Cougars are off to a 3-0 start in Mountain West Conference play, marking the best league start for the Cougars since the 2001 season.

COMPARITIVE HOME FIELD DOMINANCE

In addition to currently having the largest scoring margin in stadium history, the Cougars rank third nationally amongst Division IA schools that have played at least three home games.

QUARTER-BY-QUARTER SCORING ADVANTAGE

BYU has outscored its opponents in 20 of 28 quarters this season. The Cougars have not trailed since the Boston College game (16 consecutive quarters). Overall, BYU has outscored its opponents 253-111. The Cougars are averaging 36.1 points per game in comparison to their opponents 15.9. BYU has dominated its opponents in the first, second and fourth quarters while holding a nine-point advantage in the third quarter. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 75-12 in the first quarter, 68-29 in the second quarter, 52-43 in the third quarter and 58-20 in the fourth quarter.

UNDEFEATED AT HOME

BYU will be looking to improve its home record to a perfect 4-0 this week against UNLV. If the Cougars beat the Rebels it will mark the first home winning record since 2002 when BYU posted a 4-2 record. The Cougars recorded back-to-back 3-3 seasons in 2005 and 2004 after a 1-5 record in 2003. The last time BYU had a perfect record at home was 2001 when the Cougars went 6-0 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Since the stadium was built in 1964, BYU has gone undefeated at home 12 times:

2001: 6-0

1998: 6-0

1996: 7-0

1991: 6-0

1990: 6-0

1988: 6-0

1984: 6-0

1983: 5-0

1980: 6-0

1979: 5-0

1977: 5-0

1967: 5-0

ALL-PURPOSE BACK

Curtis Brown has been all over the field for BYU in its six games. In addition to leading the team in rushing yards, receptions and receiving yards, he has returned kickoffs for the Cougars. Brown returned a kick for 48 yards against San Diego State and currently leads BYU in kick returns with an average of 25.3 yards per return.

CONSECUTIVE WINS

BYU's four consecutive victories over Utah State, TCU, San Diego State and UNLV mark the first time the Cougars have won at least four in a row since 2001. BYU's longest winning streak last year was three games and the Cougars won five games during a six game stretch. In 2001, BYU won 12 consecutive games on its way to a perfect 8-0 MWC record and 12-2 season.

EARLY LEADS

BYU has scored first in six consecutive games. The last time a BYU opponent took an early lead was in the Cougars' opener when Arizona scored an early field goal to go ahead 3-0. All totaled, BYU has outscored its opponents 75-12 in the opening period. The Cougars have only surrendered one first quarter touchdown on the season (Boston College).

HALF TIME ADVANTAGE

BYU's 28-7 halftime lead over UNLV extended the Cougars' streak of being ahead at half to seven straight games. BYU has held a halftime advantage in every game this season. In the Cougars two losses, they held one-point halftime leads. In any game that BYU has led over a one point lead at the break, the Cougars have won.

BALL SECURITY

BYU is currently third nationally in turnover margin. The Cougars are coming off a game against UNLV where they won the turnover battle 6-1. BYU forced and recovered two fumbles and intercepted four passes. The Cougars only turnover was John Beck's third interception of the season. Beck went 69 pass attempts between interceptions and has thrown only three picks in 199 attempts (1.5 percent).

In addition to holding on to the ball, the Cougars have found a way to force 18 turnovers. The Cougars have a +1.43 turnover margin heading into this week's action.

TEAM EFFORT

The 2005 BYU team has used full team efforts to lead the Cougars to first place in the Mountain West Conference. Below are various team statistical categories where the Cougars are ranked in the top-25:

Defensive Stats:

Scoring Defense: 21st (15.9 points per game)

Passing Effieciency Defense: 18th (105.27)

Turnovers Gained: 17th (18)

Interceptions: 10th (11)

Offensive Stats:

Scoring Offense: 8th (36.14 points per game)

Total Offense: 7th (450.57 yards per game)

Passing Offense: 5th (303.4 yards per game)

CONSECUTIVE ROAD TRIPS

When BYU takes on Air Force this week and Colorado State next week it marks the only back-to-back road games on the Cougars schedule this season. BYU has played back-to-back home games once this year and will do it again when the Cougars take on Wyoming and New Mexico in consecutive weeks.

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