Game Notes: Deseret First Duel Showdown Set For Saturday

Linebacker Matt Bauman recorded a team-high 12 tackles in the BYU vs. Utah matchup in 2008 (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

No. 19 BYU (9-2, 6-1 MWC) hosts in-state rival No. 21 Utah (9-2, 6-1) in both teams’ final regular-season game on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will mark the third football matchup since the inception of the Deseret First Duel, with BYU winning in 2007 and Utah claiming victory in 2008.

The Cougars and Utes boast the same overall and league records after coming off home wins against Air Force and San Diego State, respectively. Utah is the third top-25 ranked opponent BYU has faced this season. The Cougars previously defeated then-No. 3 Oklahoma on Sep. 5 before suffering a loss to then-No. 8 TCU on Oct. 24.

HOW DOES THE DUEL WORK?

BYU and Utah compete head-to-head in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s swimming. Points are awarded to the school that wins each game, meet, or match. A team trophy is also presented to the winner in each sport. BYU won the inaugural Deseret First Duel in 2007-08, while Utah claimed the title in 2008-09. The score is currently tied 6-6.

ON THE TUBE

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. and simulcast on CBS-College Sports. James Bates will provide play-by-play coverage, with Todd Christensen lending analysis. Toby Christensen and Sammy Linebaugh will report from the sidelines.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

- A victory on Saturday would give the program its 200th win at LaVell Edwards Stadium since it was built in 1964.

- Since Bronco Mendenhall took over the program in 2005, BYU has closed the regular season with 10-2 records or better in three straight seasons. Defeating Utah would give the Cougars another 10-2 season record, marking the 14th time in program history and extending the current streak to four. Never before has a BYU coach led his team to four consecutive 10-2 records.

- Senior tight end Dennis Pitta (2004, 07-09) needs two receptions to pass Austin Collie (2004, 07-08) as BYU’s all-time leader in career receptions. Collie set the record in 2008 with 215 receptions.

THE BYU-UTAH SERIES

The BYU vs. Utah rivalry has become one of the most exciting rivalries in the nation. The Utes and the Cougars have met 84 times since the first official meeting in 1922. Utah dominated the rivalry until 1965 when the Cougars began to hold the advantage over the Utes. Since 1965, BYU is 28-15 against Utah. Each team has enjoyed a nine-game winning streak over the other at some point in the series.

Except for 2004 and 2008, the last nine meetings in this rivalry have been decided by seven points or less including four last-minute comebacks by BYU in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2007. The Cougars’ 2006 come-from-behind victory, in which quarterback John Beck found tight end Jonny Harline all alone in the end zone with no time left on the clock, broke a four-game losing streak against Utah. Another last-minute victory in 2007, thanks to the game-changing pass from quarterback Max Hall to wide receiver Austin Collie on a 4th-and-18 situation during BYU’s final scoring drive, gave the Cougars their first two-game winning streak against the Utes since the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

LAST TIME: Utah 48, BYU 24 (NOV. 22, 2008)

SALT LAKE -- In what was billed as the game of the decade, No. 7 Utah took advantage of several Cougar mistakes en route to a 48-24 victory over No. 14 BYU. Before a crowd of 46,488 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the second largest in Ute history, the two nationally ranked teams matched field goals, touchdowns, punts, but not interceptions and fumbles.

Quarterback Max Hall completed 21-of-41 passes for 201 yards, but had a career-high five interceptions. A bright spot for the Cougars was the performances of wide receiver Austin Collie, whose 104 yards receiving gave him his 10th consecutive 100-yard performance. He also surpassed Eric Drage to become BYU’s all-time leading receiver setting a new school record with 3,136 receiving yards. Sophomore running back Harvey Unga had 116 yards rushing on 15 carries to go over 1,000 yards for consecutive seasons.

UTAH’S LAST OUTING

SALT LAKE -- No. 23 Utah showed no hangover from its humbling and disappointing loss to TCU, quickly taking advantage of an overmatched opponent. Eddie Wide rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns and the Utes scored all their points in the first half and coasted to a 38-7 win over San Diego State Saturday.

The Utes (9-2, 6-1 MWC) bounced back after losing 55-28 on the road to No. 4 TCU a week before to earn their 17th consecutive home win, the third-longest in the nation behind Oklahoma (28) and Boise State (24).

Freshman Jordan Wynn completed 14 of 28 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. David Reed, who grabbed five receptions for 83 yards, became the sixth player in Utah history to compile more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

BYU’S LAST OUTING

PROVO -- Quarterback Max Hall and running back Harvey Unga rewrote the record books as the Cougars improved to 6-1 in Mountain West Conference play and 9-2 overall with a 38-21 win over Air Force at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.

Hall surpassed former BYU great Ty Detmer on the Cougars’ career win list with his 30th victory at the helm for BYU. Hall, 3-0 all-time against the Falcons, passed for 377 yards, throwing for 33-of-45 and five touchdowns, all new season highs. In addition, Hall’s 377 yards passing and 371 yards of total offense propelled the senior past Cougar John Beck’s MWC records of 11,021 career passing yards and 11,060 career total offense yards. Hall finished the game with 11,039 career passing yards and 11,227 yards in total offense with next week’s game against Utah and a bowl game left to play.

In just his junior year, Unga set new BYU records for both career rushing yards and career rushing attempts, running past Curtis Brown for first place all-time. Needing 21 yards and four carries for the record, Unga broke the yardage mark on a 4-yard rush up the middle with 2:43 left in the first quarter, giving himself one yard more than Brown’s 3,221 career yards. Four plays later, Unga also took over the career rushing attempts record on a bruising 8-yard run. He finished the game with 67 yards on 11 carries.

COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM

With the Air Force win the Cougars improve to 157-46 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 26 of its last 51 games dating back to 2006.

COIN TOSS

Air Force won the coin toss last week and elected to defer to the second half, marking the fifth time this season the Cougars have not won the toss. BYU is now 5-0 when losing the toss.

TEAM CAPTAINS

Offensive seniors Max Hall and Dennis Pitta, along with defensive seniors Matt Bauman, Scott Johnson and Jan Jorgensen, have been selected by their teammates to serve as captains for the 2009 football season.

Collectively the captains have 156 starts, with Hall, Bauman and Jorgensen starting each game last season.

PULLING OUT THE CLOSE ONES

After a close 24-19 victory over the Lobos on Nov. 14 the Cougars have won 10 consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer. BYU pulled out a narrow 14-13 win against No. 3 Oklahoma in its season opener.

MENDENHALL TEAMS VERSUS RANKED FOES

Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is 2-7 vs. ranked foes, with its wins being a 31-17 victory over No. 15 TCU on Sept. 28, 2006 and a 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 5, 2009.

DON’T LOOK BACK

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 41-4 when leading at halftime and 39-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall’s teams have won 27 straight games when leading by at least 14 points at the halftime break, 74 overall as a team. The last time BYU lost a game after leading by at least 14 points at the half was on Oct. 10, 1987 when it lost, 29-27, in its homecoming game against Wyoming.

9-2 THROUGH 11 GAMES

Since Bronco Mendenhall took over the program in 2005, BYU has earned 9-2 records or better (through 11 games) in three straight seasons. Defeating Air Force gives the Cougars another 9-2 season record, marking the 17th time in program history and extending the current streak to four. Never before has a BYU coach led his team to four consecutive 9-2 records.

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS

2009 is the 25-year anniversary of BYU’s 1984 National Championship season. The 2009 BYU football team will be honoring the 1984 team this coming season. The 25-year Silver Anniversary logo will be displayed on the players’ helmets and on season tickets, game programs, the media guide, team posters and the annual game-day t-shirt.

“FAN”TASTIC FANS

The 64,071 fans in attendance for the Cougars’ 38-21 win over Air Force marked the 17th consecutive sell-out at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The current streak marks the longest streak of consecutive sellouts since the 1990-92 seasons. In four games this season BYU is averaging 64,215 fans per game. The last time the stadium was not sold out was against New Mexico on Nov. 18, 2006 when 63,814 fans were in attendance—231 short of a sellout.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against a Utah defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-4, 271 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars front three average 6-feet-3, 262 pounds, while the Ute offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-3, 300 pounds per man.

HE WHO SCORES FIRST...

BYU was the first to score last week against Air Force on a Mitch Payne 49-yard field goal with 6:00 remaining in the first quarter. The Cougars has been the first to score in six games this season, the others being Tulane, Colorado State, UNLV, San Diego State and Wyoming. The Cougars are 6-0 in those games.

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS

The Cougars lead the nation in third-down conversion percentage, converting a total of 80-of-137 attempts. In its nine wins this season, the offense converted 62-percent of its third-downs.

NEW BYU RUSHING LEADER

Junior Harvey Unga’s 5-yard run with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter against Air Force moved him into first place on BYU’s all-time career rushing list. He also became BYU’s all-time leader in carries four plays later. Unga now has 3,268 yards and 649 carries over the 2007-09 seasons. He passed former Cougar Curtis Brown (2002, 2004-06) who had 3,221 yards and 641 carries.

CONSECUTIVE CATCHES

All-American tight end Dennis Pitta caught his first pass of the Air Force game on the Cougars’ first offensive play of the game for a 14-yard gain. The senior has caught a pass in 41 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission. Those 41 games extends a BYU program record previously held by Glen Kozlowski with 38.

HALL PASSES DETMER’S WIN RECORD

With the Cougars’ 38-21 win over Air Force, senior quarterback Max Hall now has 30 career wins as the starting play-caller for BYU, surpassing Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer on BYU’s all-time list, who racked up 29 wins during his career from 1988-91.

SCORING HALL PASSES

Hall recorded a season-high five touchdown passes against Air Force, giving him 28 on the year. Those 28 touchdown passes have been to 10 different members of the BYU receiving corp. The last time Hall threw for five or more touchdowns was against CSU in 2008. He was responsible for six receiving scores in that game. Hall has now thrown a touchdown pass in 34-of-37 career games.

10,000 YARDS PASSING

Hall’s 377 yards passing against Air Force give him 11,039 career passing yards, second-most in BYU program history. The only other two BYU quarterbacks to have ever surpassed the 10,000-yard mark were John Beck (2003-06) with 11,021 and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer (1988-91) with 15,031.

REWRITING MWC RECORD BOOK

After throwing four touchdown passes against Wyoming, Hall became the MWC leader in career touchdown passes, surpassing former Cougar John Beck who had 79. Another one of Beck’s league record was broken during the Wyoming game--his 17 career 300-yard passing games. Throwing for 312 yard versus the Cowboys, Hall achieved his 18th 300-yard passing game. After the Air Force game he now has 20 300-yard games and 89 touchdown passes.

Following his 33-yard completion to McKay Jacobson early in the third quarter of the Air Force game, Hall surpassed Beck’s MWC leading 11,060 career total offensive yards. His 18-yard completion to Andrew George late in the fourth quarter also moved him into first place in career passing yards. The record was previously held by Beck with 11,021. The senior now has 11,039 passing yards over the past three seasons.

CONSECUTIVE STARTS

The Air Force game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 50th straight career start. During that streak, Jorgensen has started every game of his collegiate career and set a new MWC all-time career sack record in 2008 with 22.5. Jorgensen’s first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES

Senior linebacker Shawn Doman recovered an Air Force fumble late in the first quarter, forced by defensive back Scott Johnson. With the BYU offense back on the field, Max Hall led a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta to give the Cougars a 10-0 lead.

Defensive lineman Brett Denney forced a fumble on the Falcon’s first drive of the second half, recovered by defensive lineman Russell Tialavea. The turnover resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hall to O’Neill Chambers, his first touchdown of the 2009 season. The Cougars have now recovered eight fumbles in 11 games.

BLOCK PARTY

On Nov. 14 defensive back Andrew Rich kept the Lobos from scoring a late field goal to end the first half by blocking a 46-yard attempt. It marked the junior’s first career block. As a team, BYU has blocked two kicks this season. The first was a blocked punt by sophomore Matt Marshall in the USU game.

PAPER OR PLASTIC?

Senior linebacker Coleby Clawson and defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen combined for a sack against AFA’s quarterback Ben Cochran for a 3-yard loss with nine-seconds to play in the first half. Collectively the Cougars have recorded 23 sacks in their 11 games this season.

COUGAR PICKS

Defensive back Andrew Rich picked off his second interception of the season with 11:52 to play in the second quarter against Air Force. He recorded a 44-yard return. The turnover resulted in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Pitta on a 1-play scoring drive. Rich intercepted his second ball of the game on an Air Fore hail mary pass to end the first half, marking the second time this year a Cougar defender has recorded two interceptions in a single game. Scott Johnson did the same in BYU’s 59-17 win over UNLV.

The Cougar defense has snagged 12 interceptions through 11 games.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 142 consecutive games. Mike Rigell was the last Cougar to accomplish the feat, turning in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.

The last time BYU returned a punt for a touchdown was back on Nov. 9, 2006 when freshman McKay Jacobson ran one back 77 yards. Forty games have passed since then.

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