Harvey Unga surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and scored the game-winning touchdown for BYU in its last meeting with Utah in 2007 (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Coming off a 38-24 win at Air Force last Saturday, the Cougars are set to close the regular season with a visit to in-state rival, University of Utah, in the second annual football battle of the Deseret First Duel. With a win, BYU would put a dent in their foe’s perfect record and claim a piece of the Mountain West Conference title. For the first time since 2006, BYU will have faced two top-25 ranked teams in a single season. The Cougars previously played against then-No. 24 TCU on Oct. 16, a game which BYU lost 32-7.
Utah (11-0, 7-0) enters Saturday’s game as one of five undefeated FBS teams, along with a top-10 national ranking. The Utes are coming off a 63-14 win over San Diego State last weekend.
Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MT) and will be broadcast nationally on The Mtn.
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 83 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 28-14 against Utah. Each team has enjoyed a nine-game winning streak over the other at some point in the series. Except for 2004, 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.
ON THE TUBE
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. Rich Cellini will call the action while Jon Berger and Blaine Fowler lend analysis. Both Sammy Linebaugh and Toby Christensen will report from the sidelines.
A LOOK BACK: BYU 38-AiR FORCE 24
All-America candidate Austin Collie continued his record-setting pace with 130 receiving yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Max Hall threw for 354 yards to lead No. 14 BYU to a 38-24 win at Air Force on Saturday. With the victory the Cougars have achieved 10 wins for the third straight season. BYU improves to 10-1 overall and 6-1 in the Mountain West Conference while the Falcons fall to 8-3 and 5-2. Collie, one of 10 receivers selected as a Biletnikoff Award finalist, totaled more than 100 receiving yards for the ninth straight game to extend his MWC record, while setting the new conference mark for total 100-yard games overall at nine. With 1,315 receiving yards on the season, Collie is now BYU’s all-time single-season leader.Collie was joined by tight end Dennis Pitta, who caught nine balls for 113 yards as the Cougars rolled up 354 passing yards among 480 yards of total offense. Air Force gained 323 yards on the ground and totaled 421 yards overall in the competitive contest.
COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM
After Saturday’s win over Air Force, the Cougars are 148-42 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. With the win, a ranked BYU team has won 17 of its last 18 games, dating back to 2006.
COLLIE HITS CENTURY MARK-EXTENDS MWC RECORD
Junior Austin Collie broke the 100-yard receiving mark for the ninth straight game with 130 yards on seven catches against the Falcons. Collie’s nine-consecutive games extend a MWC record he broke three weeks ago against UNLV. The record was previously held by SDSU’s J.R. Tolver (2002) with five.
With his nine 100-yard games on the season, Collie now stands alone in the MWC record book. SDSU’ Kassim Osgood and J.R. Tolver held the previous record of eight 100-yard games in a single season.
CLIMBING UP THE BYU RECORD CHARTS
With his 130 yards receiving against Air Force, Austin Collie now has 3,032 career-receiving yards, needing only 35 more yards to pass Eric Drage (3,066 yards) and claim the No. 1 spot on BYU’s all-time receiving list.
On the season, Collie has 1,185 yards receiving and is now BYU’s all-time single-season leading receiver.
The junior now has 15 career 100-yard receiving games—a BYU record. He also holds the MWC record, two game ahead of the old leader, SDSU’s J.R. Tolver.
Counting his two touchdowns today, Collie now has 30 career touchdowns, coming in as No. 6 on BYU’s career touchdown list. Collie’s 30 touchdowns also surpass the previous MWC leader, Jovon Bouknight of Wyoming (29). He also now holds the MWC record for most touchdowns caught in a single season, with 15. The previous record was 13 held by SDSU’s J.R. Tolver in 2002. Collie has hauled in at least one touchdown pass in eight games this season.
With one MWC game remaining, Collie has caught 10 touchdowns, tying former BYU tight end Jonny Harline’s 10 scoring receptions in conference play.
SCORING HALL PASSES-NEW MWC RECORD
Quarterback Max Hall recorded two touchdown passes against Air Force, giving him 34 on the season. His 34 touchdown passes breaks a single-season MWC record previously held by former Cougar, and current BYU quarterbacks coach, Brandon Doman (2001). The junior has thrown a scoring pass in every game this season except for the Cougars’ loss to TCU earlier in October. Hall has now thrown a touchdown pass in 22-of-24 career games.
TALE OF THE TAPE
BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 326.4 pounds and average 6-feet-6. The front five will be going up against a Utah defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-4, 258 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars’ front three average 6-feet-3, 278 pounds, while the Utah offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-4, 307 pounds per man.
Freshman defensive back Blake Morgan forced a fumble early in the third quarter against Air Force, which was recovered by freshman linebacker Spencer Hadley, his second recovery this season. BYU capitalized on the turnover, with Harvey Unga scampering into the endzone for a one-yard touchdown run, giving BYU a 24-14 lead. Morgan made the trip to Air Force in place of junior linebacker Shawn Doman.
TURNOVERS TRANSLATING TO POINTS
The Cougars forced two Air Force turnovers last week, including Spencer Hadley’s fumble recovery and Brandon Howard’s 4th-quarter interception. In 11 games this season BYU has forced 27 turnovers, converting 18 of those into points. Of those 18 turnovers, 15 have resulted in touchdowns (105 points) for the Cougars.
The Air Force game marked senior offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds’ 49th straight career start. During that streak, Reynolds has started at every position on the offensive line, including tackle, guard and center. Reynolds’ younger brother Matt started at left tackle in the 2008 season opener. His father, Lance, is the associate head coach for the Cougars. Reynolds is currently tied at first for the most consecutive starts by an active Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) player. Reynolds has started in every game of his BYU career, beginning with the Cougars’ 20-3 loss to Boston College on Sep. 3, 2005.
HE WHO SCORES FIRST...
Senior Fui Vakapuna’s 11-yard touchdown run with 7:41 remaining in the first quarter against Air Force gave BYU the early 7-0 lead. BYU has scored first in eight games this season, marking the 30th time in the last 36 games. The Cougars are 28-2 in those 30 games. Vakapuna has scored first for BYU in two consecutive games, including his seven-yard run in the first quarter against San Diego State last Saturday.
The Air Force game marked the sixth time this season BYU won the opening coin toss, with the Cougars electing to receive. BYU is now 5-1 when winning the opening toss.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 129 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.
TRAILING AT THE HALF
For only the second time this season, the Cougars found themselves down at the halfway mark to the Falcons, entering the locker room behind 14-10. The last time the Cougars trailed at the half was at TCU—a game they lost 32-7. BYU is now 1-1 when down at halftime.
DON’T LOOK BACK
In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 33-4 when leading at halftime and 32-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
SCORING IN NO TIME...
Forced and recovered turnovers have resulted in fast scoring drives for the Cougars, who have put together nine scoring drives of a minute or less so far this season, including two against Utah State. BYU’s second quarter scoring drive of six seconds against UCLA, marked the shortest Cougar scoring drive since a three-yard touchdown run by Harvey Unga against TCU on Nov. 8, 2007 knocked four seconds off the clock.
The Air Force game marked the second time this season, both wide receiver Austin Collie and tight end Dennis Pitta finished the game surpassing 100-yards receiving, with 130 and 113 yards, respectively. The last time the duo accomplished this feat was on Nov. 1 at CSU. In that game Pitta recorded 175 yards, while Collie followed with 156 yards.
Sophomore Harvey Unga ran for two touchdowns in today’s game, the first time he has scored more than one rushing touchdown since BYU’s season-opener against Northern Iowa.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
Junior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s sack against CSU’s Billy Farris in the fourth quarter gave him 21.5 career sacks, breaking the previous MWC record of 20.5 he shared with New Mexico’s Michael Tuohy, TCU’s Chase Ortiz and former Cougar Brady Poppinga. Jorgensen added a second sack and forced a fumble with just 22 seconds remaining to help secure the win and bring his career sack total to 22.5. He recorded four sacks his freshman season in 2006, 13.5 his sophomore season and five to date in 2008. Through ten games this season the Cougar defense has recorded 20 sacks.
THREE IN A ROW
With its win at Air Force Saturday, BYU has achieved 10 wins in each of the last three seasons. This is the third time in school history the Cougars have accomplished the feat, having done so previously from 1979-81 and 1983-85.
Senior linebacker David Nixon kept the Falcons off the scoreboard late in the first quarter after blocking a 54-yard field goal attempt by Lou Groza Award candidate Ryan Harrison.
As a team, BYU has blocked five kicks this season, surpassing the three blocks recorded in 2007. Along with Nixon, Bryan Kariya blocked a punt against UNLV, Jan Jorgensen blocked a potentially game-tying PAT at Washington, Russell Tialavea blocked a UCLA field goal attempt and Michael Alisa blocked a kick against New Mexico. The last time BYU recorded five or more blocked kicks in a season was back in 1998 (6).