Game Notes: Season Opens Against No. 3 Oklahoma

Quarterback John Walsh led the Cougars to a 31-6 win against Oklahoma in the 1994 Copper Bowl, the last meeting between the two programs (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

2009 KICKS OFF vs. OKLAHOMA

Coming off a third consecutive 10-win season, the Cougars are ready to kick off the 2009 season against No. 3 Oklahoma in only the second meeting between the two teams. BYU is coming off a visit to the Las Vegas Bowl, its fourth bowl game in as many years. Saturday marks the first collegiate football game played in the new Cowboys Stadium and will be part of the second-annual ESPN Kickoff Week.

Oklahoma (0-0) enters Saturday’s game with a good percentage of its Big 12 Championship and BCS title game team still intact, including a Heisman Tropy winner, three All-Americans and four All-Big 12 players.

ON THE TUBE

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on ESPN. Brad Nessler will provide play-by-play coverage, with Todd Blackledge giving analysis. Heather Cox will report from the sidelines. The game will mark the first of 12 BYU games available nationally during the 2009 season.

AGAINST THE BIG 12

The Cougars have a 14-22 overall record against Big 12 opponents. BYU has faced every team in the conference except Nebraska, and has a winning record against Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.

The last Big 12 vs. BYU matchup was on Jan. 1, 1997 when the Cougars defeated Kansas State, 19-15, at the Cotton Bowl.

The Cougars’ first game against a current Big 12 opponent was the University of Colorado, which handed BYU a 41-0 loss on Oct. 20, 1923.

SEASON OPENERS

The Cougars will be looking to open with a win for the third consecutive season as BYU edged Arizona, 20-7, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2007 and Northern Iowa also at home, 41-17, in 2008. Since 1922, the Cougars have posted a 48-35-2 record in season-opening games. The last time BYU opened the season with a road win was back in 1994 when it defeated Hawaii, 13-12, in Honolulu. From 1978 to 1995, BYU opened the season on the road in 16-of-18 seasons.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

- A win on Saturday would give BYU its first win over a ranked non-conference opponent since it defeated No. 14 Arizona State, 26-6, on Sept. 12, 1998. Since that day, BYU has lost 12 consecutive games to ranked non-conference opponents.

- The last time BYU beat a ranked non-conference opponent on a neutral field was the Cotton Bowl game of Jan. 1, 1997, when BYU beat No. 14 Kansas State, 19-15.

- Since the inception of the MWC in 1999, BYU is 2-15 versus teams ranked in the Top 25 by the USA Today/Coaches, and 2-13 versus teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.

- The last time BYU beat a non-conference team ranked in the Top 10 was its 28-21 win over No. 1 Miami in 1990.

- Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is 1-6 vs. ranked foes, with its only win a 31-17 win over No. 15 TCU on Sept. 28, 2006. The Cougars recorded losses to No. 22 Boston College, No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 14 UCLA, No. 24 TCU, and No. 7 Utah.

THE BYU-OKLAHOMA SERIES

The Cougars and Sooners have only met once before, when BYU recorded a 31-6 win at the 1994 Copper Bowl.

LAST TIME: BYU 31, OKLAHOMA 6 (DEC. 31, 1994)

BYU fans celebrated the New Year early as the Cougars dominated Oklahoma and ended its five-year winning drought in bowl games. Quarterback John Walsh and the offense clicked on all cylinders and the Cougars’ defense was dominating throughout the ESPN telecast.

Walsh threw a seven-yard TD pass to Bryce Doman in the first quarter and had a 25-yard pass to Mike Johnston in the second quarter. A four-yard scoring pass to Johnston in the third quarter and a 28-yard touchdown pass to Doman in the fourth quarter vaulted Walsh’s stats to 454 yards and four touchdowns on 31-of-45 passes with no interceptions against the Sooner defense which had held national champion Nebraska to 13 points. BYU’s defense was dominating as it held Oklahoma to just 72 yards rushing and 163 yards passing—most of those in the last quarter. The Sooners did not cross midfield until their ninth possession on the second-to-last play of the third quarter.

Jamal Willis caught seven passes for 103 yards and was chosen Offensive Player of the Game. Walsh was named MVP in what would be his final game at BYU. BYU finished 10th in the CNN/USA Today poll and 18th in the Associated Press poll.

OKLAHOMA’S LAST OUTING

MIAMI -- Tim Tebow and his Florida Gators recorded a 24-14 win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game.

It was the third straight national title for a team from the Southeastern Conference, and marked the Sooners’ fifth straight loss in a BCS game. Despite the loss, Oklahoma (12-2) set a modern record for scoring with 702 points during the season and put up at least 60 points in its five games before the BCS title game.

Bradford, who beat out Tebow for the Heisman, was 26-for-41 with two interceptions on the night.

COUGAR-SOONER TIES

- BYU’s Brandon Ogletree and OU’s Marcus Trice both played high school football at Mesquite HS in Mesquite, Texas.

- BYU defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna is currently serving an LDS mission to Oklahoma City, Okla. He is scheduled to return home January 2010.

BYU’S LAST OUTING

LAS -- BYU totaled 444 yards of total offense compared to Arizona’s 416, but the No. 16 Cougars fell short of their third-straight bowl victory, falling 31-21 to the Arizona Wildcats in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Despite the loss, the Cougars boasted two 100-yard receivers for only the third time on the season with wideouts Austin Collie and Michael Reed recording 119 and 117 yards, respectively. The game also marked Reed’s only 100-yard receiving game of his senior season.

With his performance, Collie continued to set BYU records in career receptions (215) and single-season receptions (106). The All-American receiver also tied an NCAA single-season record held with Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree with his 11th consecutive 100-yard receiving game.

BYU quarterback Max Hall completed 30-of-46 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown pass. He also scrambled into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown with 3:38 remaining in the game. Sophomore running back Harvey Unga recorded a rushing touchdown for the Cougars and ended the night with 71 yards on 17 carries.

2009 BROADCAST PLANS

All 12 of BYU’s games this season will be broadcasted to a national audience on ESPN, ESPN2, The Mtn., VERSUS and CBS College Sports Network. The season opener against Oklahoma will be shown on ESPN. ESPN2 will cover the Tulane game the following week. The Cougars will have seven games televised on The Mtn., including a simulcast of the season ender against the University of Utah with CBS-C. Direct TV launched The Mtn. nationally on Aug. 27, 2008, giving fans from across the country ultimate access to Mountain West Conference sports. VERSUS will carry the Florida State and TCU games, and CBS-C will televise the Air Force and Utah games.

COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM

Despite their loss to Arizona in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, the Cougars are 148-44 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. With the loss, a ranked BYU team has won 17 of its last 20 games, dating back to 2006.

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.

NIGHT GAMES

The Oklahoma game marks the first of five night games for the Cougars, with later starts (after 5 p.m.) also against Florida State, Utah State, UNLV and TCU.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317.4 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against an Oklahoma defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-4, 275 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars’ front three average 6-feet-3, 261.7 pounds, while the Oklahoma offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-4, 305 pounds per man.

CONSECUTIVE CATCHES

All-American tight end Dennis Pitta has caught a pass in 30 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission.

HE WHO SCORES FIRST...

In 2008 BYU was the first team to score in eight of 13 games, marking 31 times in the last 38 games. The Cougars are 29-2 in those 31 games.

CONSECUTIVE STARTS

The 2008 bowl game against Arizona marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 39th 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 at 22.5. His first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.

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