Game Notes: BYU vs. New Mexico

Receiver Todd Watkins needs one more 100-yard game to equal the BYU record for most 100-yard games in a single season. The current record is held by three players, Chris Smith, Andy Boyce and Margin Hooks. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Following its impressive victory last week against San Diego State, BYU is looking to extend its winning streak to four games when it faces off against New Mexico Saturday Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. (MT) on Saturday. The Lobos are coming off of a bye week and are one game behind the Cougars in the MWC standings. Last season BYU grinded out a 10-7 victory in Albuquerque. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead behind the running of Rey Brathwaite and the passing of Matt Berry, but an injury to Berry's hand forced the Cougars to play third string quarterback Todd Mortensen the entire second half. As a result BYU's offense sputtered, but BYU's defense made the early lead stand.

SERIES INFORMATION

The Cougars hold a 39-13-1 advantage over the Lobos in a series dating back to 1951. In that first game New Mexico shut out BYU 34-0 in Albuquerque. The early portion of the series was fairly even, with New Mexico holding a slight 8-6 advantage in 1964 before BYU won 34 of the next 39 meetings including sixteen in a row from 1981 to 1996. The last time the two teams met in Provo, New Mexico defeated BYU 20-16, ending a 14-game losing streak to BYU in Provo. The Lobos are looking to win back-to-back games in Provo for the first time in the history of the series.

SETTING THE GAME

KICKOFF: 10 a.m.

SITE: LaVell Edwards Stadium (64,045)

TELEVISION (Local): SportsWest (Tom Kirkland and Blaine Fowler)

LAST TEN: BYU leads, 8-2

LAST FIVE: BYU leads, 4-1

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

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

THE SERIES: BYU leads 39-13-1

IN PROVO: BYU leads 20-5

LAST MEETING: Sept. 13, 2003 (BYU, 10-7)

LAST MEETING IN PROVO: Nov. 16, 2002 (New Mexico, 20-16)

TIES TO NEW MEXICO

Of the 105 players on BYU's roster, none of them are from New Mexico. BYU's players hail from 22 states and three countries. Also, there are no players on New Mexico roster who hail from Utah. Although, none of BYU's players have ties to New Mexico, the Cougars defensive coordinator, Bronco Mendenhall, held that same position with the Lobos from 1998 to 2002 under head coach Rocky Long. The pair also coached together at Oregon State in 1995 when Long was the defensive coordinator and Mendenhall coached defensive line. The two schools also run similar defensive schemes. A scheme that Mendenall learned while under the tutelage of Long.

WATCH OUT NOW

Watch out for some Cougars to pass important milestones during their game against New Mexico this week. Running back Curtis Brown has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in the last four games--a feat accomplished by only two other running backs at BYU. If he rushes for one hundred yards against the Lobos he will join former BYU running back and Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley as the only Cougars to rush for 100 yards in five straight games.

Junior receiver Todd Watkins finished the Air Force game with three receptions for 135 yards, marking his fifth 100-yard game of the season. Watkins needs one more 100-yard game to equal the BYU single-season record, which is currently held by three players (Chris Smith, Andy Boyce and Margin Hooks.) Watkins grabbed a 68-yard reception from John Beck on the Cougars' second play from scrimmage, giving BYU an early 7-0 lead. Watkins also had a 52-yarder in the second half.

Sophomore quarterback John Beck completed 15-of-25 attempts for 313 yards and three touchdowns. In his career, Beck has racked up 2,967 yards and needs just 33 yards to hit the 3,000-yard mark. Beck had a quarterback rating of 204.8 against the Aztecs, marking the highest rating since Brandon Doman posted a rating over 200 against California during the 2001 season.

PAYNE NAMED RAY GUY AWARD, LOU GROZA AWARD SEMIFINALIST

The Greater Augusta Sports Council last week announced BYU punter Matt Payne has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the fifth-annual Ray Guy Award. Payne was selected from a list of 41 initial candidates based upon his overall statistics and contribution to his team. The award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate punter. Payne has also been selected as a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, honoring the top kicker in the nation. One of only seven players in the country who handles punting, field goals, point-after attempts and kickoffs, Payne ranks among the nation's leaders averaging 45.3 yard per punt. He ranks third nationally in net punting, averaging nearly 41.4 yards per punt. Payne, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior has been credited with 21 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including 11 punts downed inside the 10-yard line.

STREAKS OF INTEREST

BYU has won three straight games for the first time since the 2001 season. The Cougars won 12 straight games that year before eventually falling to Hawaii 72-45. Another important streak that is still alive for the Cougars is Matt Payne's streak of consecutive field goals made between 40-49 yards. Against the Aztecs, Payne broke the NCAA record of 12 set by John Carney from 1984-85 by hitting a 43-yarder with 3:51 remaining in the game. He then extended the streak to 14 with a 42-yarder in the second half. Over his career, Payne has hit on 17 field goals between 40-49 yards, missing only four attempts over four seasons. While Payne kept that streak alive, another streak was ended against the Aztecs. Payne's BYU record for consecutive PAT's was snapped at 67 when the Aztecs blocked one of his PAT attempts.

JOHNNY B. GOODE

The Cougars resurgence the past few weeks can partly be traced back to the improvement of John Beck. Beck has thrown for over 300-yards in four of the past six games, and BYU has posted a 4-2 record in those games. During the Cougars' three-game winning streak, Beck has completed 45 out of 80 passes for 771 yards and seven touchdowns, including a career-high four scores against Air Force. Beck's ability to throw the long ball, he's completed passes of 68, 70 and 82 yards during the streak, have opened the running lanes for BYU's running backs.

KING OF PAYNE

After nine games, Matt Payne is seventh in the nation in punting with an average of 45.3 yards per kick. He has pinned opponents inside the 20-yardline 21 times. In the third game of the season, Payne booted a career-long and a then MWC record 79-yard punt. Unlike most punters, Payne likes to get into the thick of it during kick coverage. He had two highlight-reel quality hits against Boise State kick returner Chris Carr. On the season, Payne has racked up seven tackles on special teams, including six solo takedowns. Payne is no slouch as a kicker either. The senior from North Ogden, Utah has booted 15 of 18 field goals, including a 12 of 13 from 40-yards or greater. Payne's only miss from beyond 40 yards was a 59-yard attempt that was blocked against San Diego State. Payne promptly picked up the blocked kick and ran 25 yards for a first down. Also against the Aztecs, Payne broke the NCAA record of consecutive field goals from 40-49 yards--a record he tied during the Wyoming game. On the season, Payne has matched his career high of 53-yards twice, against Notre Dame and Air Force. On the season Payne has missed just one extra point, connecting on 25 of 26 attempts. His school-record of 67 consecutive extra points dating back to the 2002 season was snapped against the Aztecs.

OH, BEHAVE

Freshman sensation Austin Collie was credited with three receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yard touchdown and a six-yard touchdown reception. Collie set a Mountain West Conference record with his 82-yard reception, marking the longest reception by a freshman in MWC history. Collie leads the Cougars with seven touchdowns. On the season he has 46 receptions for 614 yards. He leads the Cougars in touchdowns and touchdown receptions with seven. Five of his seven touchdowns have been 40-yards or greater. Collie is also second on the Cougars and ninth in the MWC in receiving yards per game, averaging 68.22 yards. He is second among freshman nationall in receiving yards per game and is first among freshman in receptions per game with an average of 5.11catches per game. Another amazing stat about Collie is that on the season he has been credited with just one dropped pass.

GOING DEEP

Junior College transfer Todd Watkins has made an immediate impact for the Cougars. He leads the team with 995 receiving yards on 47 receptions and is second on the team in touchdown catches with five. He has caught touchdown passes of 68, 69, 70 and 79 yards on the season, leading Sports Illustrated to dub him the nation's top "deep threat." Watkins is first in the conference and fifth nationally in receiving yards per game with a 110.56 yard average. He, along with freshman Austin Collie, have helped return the Cougars to one of the premier passing schools in the country. BYU currently ranks 10th in the nation in passing, averaging 289.2 yards per game.

GOOD GRIEF CURTIS BROWN

Despite a slow start, sophomore running back Curtis Brown has picked up the pace in his last five games. Over that stretch Brown has racked up 588 yards, including four straight games over 100 yards. Brown's four straight 100-yard games mark just the third time a Cougar running back has eclipsed the century mark in four consecutive games. On the season Brown has rushed for 691 yards and five touchdowns. Brown accounted for 230 of the Cougars' 416 total yards in the Cougars' 24-13 win over Wyoming. He carried 24 times for 159 yards, threw one time for 40 yards and had three receptions for 31 yards. He also scored one rushing touchdown on a nine-yard run in the fourth quarter to give the Cougars a 17-13 lead with 13:37 remaining in the game. Brown's touchdown run capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive. In the first quarter Brown accounted for 95 of the Cougars' 96 total yards, including 55 yards rushing and 40 yards passing. Brown connected with freshman receiver Austin Collie on a 40-yard touchdown strike to give the Cougars a 7-0. The game marked Brown's second straight 100-yard rushing performance -- the third of his career. He now has five career 100-yard games following his 106 yards against San Diego State. He is averaging a team-leading 76.8 yards per game and is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with five.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU's projected starting offensive line averages an enormous 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds. They will face an New Mexico defensive line that averages 6-foot-1 and 251 pounds. When the Lobos have the ball, Cougar defensive linemen that average 6-foot-4 and 293 pounds will face a New Mexico front five that are listed at 6-foot-4 and 327 pounds.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS

With Saturday's victory over San Diego State, the Cougars improve to 5-4 overall and 4-1 in league play, while San Diego State drops to 0-5 in the MWC. The Cougars need one more victory to become bowl eligible. The win gives BYU a one-game lead over New Mexico for second place in the MWC standings. With two league games remaining, the Cougars are guaranteed a winning record against league opponents and can do no worse than a 4-3 against MWC opponents. The Cougars and Utes are the only team's in the conference who control their own destiny. If the Cougars win out they will win a share of their third MWC title in football.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

Coming into its game against New Mexico, BYU is currently third in the MWC in total offense and 38th in the nation, averaging just under 400 yards per game. The Cougars lead the MWC and rank 10th in the nation in passing offense with 289.22 yards per game, while they rank 97th in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 110.67 yards per game. BYU will face off against a tough Lobo defense that ranks first in the conference and 27th nationally. New Mexico allows a paltry 322 yards per game. The Lobos are best against the run ranking 17th nationally, allowing just 104.33 yards per game. Against the pass New Mexico is fourth in the conference, allowing 218 yards per game.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

Defensively, BYU ranks fourth in the conference in total defense, giving up 372,78 yards per game. The Cougars boast one of the best run defenses in the conference, giving up just 128.89 yards per game. And they're going to need to be tough against the run as the Lobos have one of the nation's best running backs in DonTrell Moore. Moore averages 104 yards per game to lead a New Mexico attack that averages 168.56 yards. Against the pass the Cougars rank last in the MWC, giving up 243.89 yards a game. BYU will face off against a New Mexico offense that averages a MWC-worst 115.44 yards per game.

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION

The Cougars offense has resembled some of the potent offensive attacks in school history over the last two games exploding for 41 and 49 points and 527 and 526 yards respectively. This marks the most points a Cougar team has scored in back-to-back games since they put up 56 against Colorado State and 41 against Wyoming in 2001.

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