BYU will play for its first outright MWC Championship since 2001. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- With BYU's convincing 55-7 win over second place Wyoming, the Cougars now have an opportunity to win their first outright Mountain West Conference championship since 2001. With a victory over New Mexico BYU will clinch the MWC crown as no other MWC team has one loss. The Cougars maintain a two game lead over second place Utah heading into this week's action.
LAST WEEK RECAP
No. 25 BYU (8-2, 6-0) guaranteed itself at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title, and its senior quarterback guaranteed his place in BYU history, as the Cougars kept their MWC undefeated season alive with a 55-7 win over Wyoming (5-5, 4-2). A win against either of BYU's final two opponents (New Mexico on Nov. 18 or Utah on Nov. 25) will give the team its first outright conference title since 2001.
John Beck surpassed former Cougar-great Jim McMahon in both career passing and career total offense Thursday night with a 20-26, 313-yard performance. The highly acclaimed quarterback threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more. Beck now has 9,805 career passing yards and 9,810 career yards of total offense, marking him as BYU's second most prolific in both categories.
Even though the Cougars own a commanding 40-14-1 all-time record against New Mexico, BYU has not beat the Lobos in Provo since 2000, which was LaVell Edwards final home game as head coach and the day the stadium was officially renamed. Since 2000, BYU has won three consecutive games in Albuquerque while losing two consecutive games in Provo. Overall, BYU holds a 20-5 all time record against New Mexico in Provo. The two teams first met in 1951 in New Mexico with the lobos winning the game 34-0. Prior to the Cougars loss to the Lobos in 2002, the two teams had played every year between 1974 and 2001 (28 games) with BYU winning 26. BYU won every match up between 1980 and 1997 (18 consecutive games).
McKay Jacobson's 77-yard punt return for a touchdown was the first punt return for a touchdown in 113 games for the Cougars. The last Cougar to return a punt for a touchdown was Jaron Dabney on Oct. 18, 1997 in BYU's 17-3 victory over Hawaii. Jacobson was 10 years old when BYU last returned a punt for a touchdown. More impressively, it was Jacobson's first-ever punt return.
BYU came up two yards shy of its first kickoff return for a touchdown in 101 games. The Cougars' Nate Meikle returned the opening kickoff 84 yards, getting knocked out of bounds at the two-yard line. Replay angles actually showed that Meikle's return should have been a touchdown.
In the first nine games of the 2006 season, BYU has allowed just 135 points. With an average of 13.5 points per game, the Cougars currently ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense. BYU's current average is less than half (27.5 points per game) of what it averaged last season through 10 games. BYU's current average is the lowest scoring defense mark over the first 10 games of a season since allowing just 12.1 points per game back in 1985.
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 a New Mexico defensive front that averages 6-foot-2, 250 pounds. (Advantage: BYU +66.8 pounds per man.) BYU's defensive line weighs in at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, New Mexico's offensive line averages over 6-foot- 3, 316.4 pounds. (Advantage: New Mexico +36.4 pounds per man.)
"BLUE OUT" FOR FINAL GAME
BYU Athletics is encouraging fans to go all out for a BLUE OUT for the last home game of the season. Wear BLUE to the New Mexico game. Select blue T-shirts and sweatshirts will be deeply discounted at the BYU Bookstore during the week and at the stadium on game day.
ACTIVE WINNING STREAKS
BYU's seven-game win streak is now the sixth longest win streak in the country. Ohio State has an 18-game win streak, followed by Michigan with an 11-game win streak. Since those two teams play each other this week, one of those streaks will come to an end.
BYU will honor 26 seniors that will be playing their final home games against New Mexico this Saturday.
Against Wyoming, when BYU quarterback John Beck found Michael Reed for a 36-yard completion with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, he became BYU's second all-time leading passer, moving past Jim McMahon (9,536). Beck finished the night with 313 yards passing. Beck also moved into second place in total offense after a 13-yard completion to Jonny Harline in the third quarter. Beck passed Jim McMahon, who had 9,723 yards of total offense.
Curtis Brown will be chasing down a BYU record against New Mexico. Brown has rushed for 2,932 yards in his career. Brown needs just 39 rushing yards to move into first place for all-time rushing yards at BYU.
Both John Beck and Curtis Brown, who will both leave BYU with their names all over the BYU record books, have a chance to hit some milestones against New Mexico. Brown needs just 68 rushing yards to become the first running back in BYU history to rush for 3,000 yards in his career.
Beck needs just 193 passing yards to be the second BYU quarterback to reach 10,000 for his career. Also, Beck needs just 190 total yards to eclipse the 10,000-yard mark in total yardage.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
BYU has now won 21 league championships, dating back to its first league title in 1974. BYU won a total of 10 straight conference championships from 1976-1985. Since the 1974 championship season, the Cougars have won 13 outright league titles. All totaled, BYU has recorded five seasons with a perfect league record (1979, 1983, 1984, 1996, 2001.)
When Curtis Brown bulled into the end zone from the one-yard line early in the first quarter against Wyoming, it marked the eighth consecutive game BYU scored first. Brown's touchdown was scored with 13:03 remaining in the first quarter, marking the second fastest time the Cougars have got on the board this season. (BYU scored with 13:19 remaining against San Diego State earlier this season.) The only game in which BYU did not score first was in the Cougars season opener at Arizona. The Wildcats jumped to a 3-0 lead in that game.
FINISHING THE SEASON
When BYU plays host to New Mexico in its final home game of the season and second to last game, the Cougars will be trying to reverse the trend of the last few season. Over the past five years, BYU has lost its final two games. The last time the Cougars won either of their final two games was in 2000 when BYU beat New Mexico at home and Utah on the road. BYU's final two opponents this season are New Mexico at home and Utah on the road. Since 2001, the Cougars final two games have been losses, making BYU 0-10 in its final two games.