Game Notes: Cougars Return to Action After Unscheduled Bye Week

Freshman running back Harvey Unga will look to become BYU's all-time freshman rushing leader on Saturday. Unga needs just 50 yards to pass Ronney Jenkins. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- BYU (5-2, 3-0 MWC) returns to Mountain West Conference action after an unscheduled bye week--due to the wildfires in California--to take on Colorado State (1-7, 1-4) at Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday. The Cougars have won four straight and have won 11 consecutive conference games, dating back to last season. A win on Saturday would give the Cougars their sixth of the season and would qualify for their third bowl game in as many years. The Rams recorded their first win of the season two weeks ago against UNLV; however, CSU most recently dropped a 27-3 decision in Fort Collins on Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. (MT) and will be broadcast regionally on The mtn.

THE BYU-COLORADO STATE SERIES

Saturday's game will mark the 66th meeting between Colorado State and BYU. The Cougars own a 35-27-3 record, dating back to the 1922 season. The two teams first met in 1922 with Colorado State handily defeating BYU, 33-0. The Rams would go on to win the first six matchups against the Cougars. Since 1938, however, BYU has compiled a record of 35-21-3 against Colorado State. The Cougars enjoyed their greatest success against CSU from 1976-85, when the LaVell Edwards-led teams defeated the Rams 10 consecutive times. Over the last two decades Colorado State has beaten BYU in Provo only three times, the most recent win coming in the 2003 season. The Cougars are currently on a three-game winning streak against CSU. Bronco Mendenhall is undefeated against the Rams since taking over the BYU football program.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a regional television audience on The mtn. James Bates will call the action and Todd Christensen will lend analysis. Sammy Linebaugh will report from the sideline. Bates was an All-Southeastern Conference linebacker at the University of Florida and captain of the Gators' 1996 national championship football team. Christensen was a standout at BYU before launching an NFL career, playing as a tight end with the Cowboys and the Raiders. Linebaugh is a former news reporter for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City and has worked as a freelance reporter before joining The mtn. as a reporter.

A LOOK BACK: BYU 42-Eastern Washington 7

Freshman running back Harvey Unga led the Cougars in both rushing (146) and receiving (57) yards for a total of 202 all-purpose yards, as BYU (5-2, 3-0) defeated Eastern Washington (4-3, 2-2) 42-17. Unga, who also scored two touchdowns on the day, became the first freshman running back to rush for 100 yards or more in four different games during his freshman season. Sophomore quarterback Max Hall was 15-for-30 for 156 yards and threw one touchdown pass to go along with his first career rushing touchdown. BYU finished with 377 total yards while limiting Eastern Washington to just 266 total yards.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

A win against Colorado State would give the Cougars their sixth victory of the season, qualifying for a bowl game for the third straight season.

A victory would also give the Cougars a 4-0 league record, extending the team's MWC record win streak to 12 straight, marking the longest conference win streak for the Cougars since winning 12 straight from November 20, 1982 to October 19, 1985. That 12-game streak was actually part of a school-record, 25-game league win streak that dated from October 2, 1982 until October 19, 1985.

A loss would drop the Cougars into a first-place tie with New Mexico. The Lobos own a 3-1 league record and play at TCU Saturday evening. One of the Cougars' current three league wins is against New Mexico.

A win on Saturday against Colorado State would mark the 10th straight win at Edwards Stadium -- the longest home win streak since winning 10 straight from October 26, 2000 to September 6, 2002. BYU is 12-3 in Provo during the Bronco Mendenhall era. In addition, the Cougars are 7-1 in games in Provo following a road game under Mendenhall.

BOWL ELIGIBILITY ON THE LINE

With a win against Colorado State, the Cougars would pick up their sixth win of the season and qualify to participate in their third straight bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season. BYU has not played in three straight bowl games since playing in the 1992 Aloha Bowl, the 1993 Holiday Bowl and the 1994 Copper Bowl. From 1978 through 1994, the Cougars participated in a school record 17 straight bowl games.

THIRD STRAIGHT SELLOUT

The Eastern Washington game marked the third consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1999 season the Cougars have had three sell-outs during the same season. Since 1999, the Cougars are 10-4 in games with a sell-out crowd.

COUGARS CONTINUE TO WIN

With a 42-7 victory over Eastern Washington, the Cougars have won 15 of their last 17 games, dating back to last season. BYU is currently on a four-game win streak, including a 35-point victory over the Eagles, a 25-point win over Air Force, and road wins over New Mexico and UNLV.

A BYU COACHING FIRST

With one more win (over the next five games), the Cougars would qualify for their third straight bowl game. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall would become the first coach in BYU history to qualify for three straight bowl games in his first three years. Mendenhall currently ranks second behind LaVell Edwards with the most post-season appearances in BYU football history.

RUSHING DOMINANCE

Entering Saturday's game against Colorado State, the Cougars own a record of 95-18 when rushing for 100 (or more) yards since the 1991 season. The Tulsa game marked only the fifth time since 1991 that the Cougars had gained over 150 yards rushing in a game and lost. (BYU is 75-5 since 1991 when rushing for 150 or more yards). During the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 19-3 when rushing for 100 or more yards.

THE 200-YARD MARK

After racking up 221 yards rushing against Eastern Washington, BYU has won 59 straight games when rushing for 200 or more yards in a game, dating back to the 1985 season. The Cougars' last loss when rushing for 200 or more yards in a game came on October 26, 1985 (vs. UTEP).

HOMELAND SECURITY

A recent victory over Eastern Washington ran BYU's consecutive home winning streak to nine games, dating back to last season. Over that span, the Cougars have beaten their opponents by an average of 31.6 points per game. During that stretch, BYU is allowing just 10.2 points per game. The Cougars have allowed seven points or less in six of the last nine home games. In the first three games this season, the Cougars have outscored opponents by an average 24.3 points per game and have allowed just 6.7 points per game. BYU's current win streak is the longest since posting a 10-game home win streak from Oct. 26, 2000 to Sept. 6, 2002.

QUARTER REPORT

An October 20 win against Eastern Washington marked the first second-half shut out the BYU defense has recorded this season. All totaled, BYU has recorded 12 shutout quarters on the season, including three scoreless quarters against Arizona, Air Force and Eastern Washington. BYU has outscored its opponents in every quarter. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 42-27 in the first quarter, 67-43 in the second, 58-35 in the third and 45-35 in the fourth quarter.

HIGH ON A MOUNTAIN TOP

Despite stepping out of conference (vs. Eastern Washington), the Cougars remain atop the Mountain West Conference with a perfect 3-0 record. BYU has won a MWC record 11 straight league games, dating back to a 31-17, road victory over No. 15 TCU last season. The streak includes a record nine straight road victories against league opponents. The Cougars' 11-game league win streak is the longest since winning 11 straight league games from October 10, 1998 through November 6, 1999. BYU owns a league-best 41-20 record against Mountain West opponents since the league began in 1999. The Cougars are the only team to record two different undefeated league seasons in the eight years since the beginning of the Mountain West Conference. BYU became the first undefeated MWC team with a 7-0 league record in 2001 and went undefeated again last season with a perfect 8-0 record against Mountain West opponents.

CONSECUTIVE SELLOUTS

The Cougars' 42-7 victory over Eastern Washington marked the third consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1999 season the Cougars have had at least three sell-outs during one season. A crowd of 64,525 attended the Cougars' season-opening victory over Arizona on September 1, while attendance for the game against Air Force was listed at 64,502. The attendance against EWU was listed at 64,522. Since 1999, the Cougars are 10-4 in games with a sell-out crowd.

FIRST-HALF DOMINANCE

The Cougars held a 21-7 lead at halftime against Eastern Washington, marking the sixth time in seven games this season BYU has held the lead at intermission. The 14-point lead marked the largest halftime lead of the season since taking a 17-0 advantage into the break against Air Force. The Cougars have led at halftime in 19 of the last 20 games. During those 19 games, the team is 16-3.

FIRST BLOOD

Senior defensive back Corby Hodgkiss' interception return for touchdown on the third play of the game against Eastern Washington gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. BYU has scored first in 17 of the last 19 games. BYU is 15-2 in those 17 games.

BALANCED ATTACK

The Cougars have scored 27 touchdowns on the season. Of the 27 TD's, 14 have been scored via the passing game while 13 have been scored on the ground. Running back Manase Tonga leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns while sophomore receiver Austin Collie has a team-leading four touchdown receptions. Freshman running back Harvey Unga has seven touchdowns on the season, including four rushing and three receiving.

HOME WIN STREAK CONTINUES

The Cougars' 42-7 victory over Eastern Washington extended BYU???s home win streak to nine straight games. The Cougars will look to win their tenth straight home game for the first time since winning 10 straight from Oct. 26, 2000 to Sept. 6, 2002 when they play host to Colorado State on November 3.

BEST OF THE BUNCH

Following the 2004 season, Bronco Mendenhall was one of 13 men who received their first head football coaching job at the Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) level. Of those 13 coaches, Bronco Mendenhall has compiled the best overall record to date.

BALL HOGS

Entering Saturday's game against Colorado State, BYU ranks third in the nation in time of possession, averaging 34:08 minutes per game. In the Cougars' last MWC game, BYU dominated the clock, owning the ball for 37:24, while allowing UNLV just 22:36. During the third quarter alone, the Cougars chipped away 12:02 of the 15-minute quarter. Against Eastern Washington, BYU held the ball for 32:23 while the Eagles had control of the ball for only 27:31.

YELLOW FEVER

Throughout the first seven games of the season, the Cougars have been plagued with penalties, ranking 114th with an average of 8.43 penalties per game. Of the Cougars' 59 penalties on the season, the offense has been flagged for 38 infractions while the defense has been penalized 11 times. Special teams has accounted for 10 of the Cougars' 59 penalties.

THE TONGAN TRIO

BYU's Tongan Trio, featuring running backs Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna and Harvey Unga, was back in action against Eastern Washington. Vakapuna broke his hand Sept. 15 against Tulsa and missed the next three weeks following surgery. The junior carried the ball 15 times for 37 yards against the Eagles. Tonga, Unga and Vakapuna have combined for 989 rushing yards and 567 yards receiving through the first seven games, averaging 222.3 all-purpose yards per game. The Tongan Threesome has accounted for 49 percent of the Cougars' total offense. Tonga and Unga have been credited with 86 percent of the team's total rushing yards and 26 percent of the team's receiving yardage.

UNGA MAKING CLAIM FOR TOP FRESHMAN HONORS

Freshman running back Harvey Unga became the first running back in BYU history to turn in four 100-yard rushing games during his freshman season after racking up 145 yards rushing in the Cougars' 42-7 win over Eastern Washington. Unga was credited with 21 carries for 145 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Unga also totaled a team-high 57 yards receiving on four receptions, including a 22-yard touchdown to give BYU a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Unga totaled a game-high 202 all-purpose yards, marking the second straight game he has produced over 200 all-purpose yards. Unga has a team-leading 684 yards rushing on the season, averaging 97.7 yards per game. All totaled, Unga accounts for 54 percent of BYU's total rushing attempts and 67 percent of the team's total rushing yards. The 6-foot, 221-pound running back is closing in on the BYU freshman rushing record as well. Unga has 684 yards rushing on the season and needs just 50 yards to break Ronney Jenkins' freshman record of 733 yards.

DID YOU KNOW ...

Only Ohio State has a better record against conference opponents over the last 15 league games than BYU. The Buckeyes are 15-0 while BYU is 14-1 in the last 15 league games. (Boise State is also 14-1 in its last 15 league games.)

COLORADO STATE CONNECTIONS

CSU freshman offensive lineman Paul Madsen served an LDS Church mission in Lubbock, Texas. His brother, Mark, earned All-America honors at Stanford and is now a forward in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Freshman defensive lineman Nuku Latu is the cousin of former Cougar Vai Sikahema.

From 1989-92, BYU outside linebackers coach Barry Lamb and CSU co-offensive coordinator Dave Lay coached together at San Diego State. Lamb was the Aztecs' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, while Lay served as the team's offensive coordinator.

From 1993-96, Cougars' secondary coach Jaime Hill was the defensive coordinator at Portland State University. During that span, Colorado State assistant coach Jesse Williams coached the defensive line at PSU.

Rams' sophomore backup quarterback Grant Stucker is a former teammate of Cougar freshman offensive lineman Nick Alletto. The two played at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo.

BYU sophomore tight end Andrew George and CSU freshman wide receiver Cameron Burl are both graduates of Cherry Creek High School in the Denver-metro area.

Cougar freshman defensive lineman David Angilau is a former teammate of Ram sophomore linebacker Matt Hendrick. The two played at Niwot High School in Niwot, Colo.

BYU senior cornerback Andre Saulsberry, senior linebacker Chris Bolden and CSU junior defensive tackle Devin McWilliams all played together at Riverside Community College in Riverside, Calif., before transferring to the Mountain West Conference.

Sete Aulai, BYU's senior starting center, and CSU senior offensive lineman Marvin Arnold are both natives of Carson, Calif. They were also teammates in 2004 at El Camino Junior College.

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