Following the Cougars' worst conference loss in school history, a 52-9 defeat at Air Force on Oct. 12, BYU (3-3) will return to Edwards Stadium for the first time since Sept. 6. The Cougars will play host to MWC foe UNLV (2-4) on Saturday, Oct. 19, beginning at 5 p.m. (MT). Both BYU and UNLV will enter the game having lost three of their last four games. While the Cougars will look to protect their 10-game home win streak, the Rebels will be looking for their first road win of the season.
Saturday's game will be produced by SportsWest and broadcast live on KSL-TV, Ch. 5, and on KLAS-TV, Ch. 8 in Las Vegas. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:06 p.m. (MT). Dave McCann will call the action, with former BYU quarterback, Blaine Fowler, lending color analysis. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with Greg Wrubell calling the action and Marc Lyons lending expert analysis. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines. The game will be re-broadcast Monday, Oct. 21 on BYU-TV at 8 p.m. (MST) and on KBYU at 10:30 p.m. (MST).
After a quick stop in Provo, the Cougars will travel to Fort Collins for their fifth road game in six weeks, taking on Colorado State on Thursday, Oct. 24. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, beginning at 8 p.m. (MT).
UNLV will come to Provo searching for its first road win of the season ... The Rebels have lost at Oregon State (47-17) and at Toledo (38-21) ... Saturday's game will mark only the third road game for UNLV this season ... Last week, the Rebels lost to New Mexico, 25-16, marking their fourth loss of the season ... UNLV has not defeated BYU in Provo since 1981 ... BYU is one of two MWC team UNLV head coach John Robinson has not defeated throughout his career ... After outscoring UNLV 130-42 from 1996 to 1999, the Rebels have lost the last two games by a slim margin of just 7 points ... Last season, the Cougars needed a last-minute drive to overcome a 31-28 UNLV lead ... In 2002, UNLV has been outscored by an average of 15.2 points per game.
BYU vs. UNLV
Saturday's game against UNLV will mark the 10th meeting between the two schools, dating back to the first meeting on Dec. 2, 1978 in Japan at the Nikkan Yokohama Bowl. The Cougars own an 8-1 record against the Rebels, including a mark of 3-1 in Provo and a record of 4-0 in Las Vegas. (BYU is 1-0 against UNLV when playing at a neutral site.) After losing to UNLV in 1981, the Rebels' first-ever victory over a ranked opponent, the Cougars have gone on to win six straight games, including a 35-31 come-from-behind win at Sam Boyd Stadium last season. In the nine previous meetings, BYU has outscored UNLV by an average 36.1-18.1. During the 1996 season, the Cougars posted series-high 63 points against UNLV, and has recorded two shutouts against the Rebels, including a 27-0 win in 1982 and a 29-0 win in 1999.
A LOOK BACK (BYU 35, UNLV 31)
BYU improved to 4-0 on the season after a thrilling fourth-quarter, come-from-behind victory over UNLV, 35-31, on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001. In the Cougars' first game since the tragic events of Sept. 11, marking a 20-day layoff, BYU showed plenty of rust early on. Luke Staley fumbled the opening kickoff and UNLV's Derek Olsen returned the fumble 22 yards for a touchdown. BYU answered on its next possession, driving down the field and scoring on a 15-yard Staley reception. But UNLV owned the first quarter, taking a 21-10 lead into the first break. The Cougars stole the momentum in the second quarter, scoring 18 unanswered points and taking a 28-21 lead into the locker room. But the UNLV defense held BYU scoreless in the second half until Doman's late-game heroics. The Cougars failed to produce a single point in the third quarter, marking only the third time in the Cougars' first four games they did not scored during a single quarter of play. Down 31-28 with just over two minutes remaining, "The Domanator" Brandon Doman led the Cougars 91 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the game. Facing fourth down and four on the BYU 38-yard line, Doman completed a pass across the middle to Mike Rigell, who advanced the ball all the way to the UNLV 22-yard line -- a crucial 42-yard gain. On the next play, Doman rolled left then darted back to the right and took it all the way into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. UNLV advanced the ball all the way to BYU's 30-yard line on the ensuing possession before Jason Thomas threw an errant pass on fourth down to seal the Cougar victory.
BERRY TO START AT QUARTERBACK
BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced on Monday, redshirt freshman Matt Berry will start at quarterback against UNLV on Saturday. Berry saw his first varsity action on Saturday at Air Force, completing 6-of-8 attempts for 95 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gabe Reid. Saturday's game will mark the first start for Berry since his final high school game in November, 1998. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound, native of Redmond, Wash., replaces junior Bret Engemann as the starting quarterback. Engemann, who led BYU to back-to-back wins against Syracuse and Hawaii to start the season, as well as an impressive come-from-behind win at Utah State, will remain in the mix for playing time. Berry gained valuable experience during the JV season, completing 12-of-23 attempts for 144 yards against top-ranked Dixie State College, including a touchdown pass to Kish Beverley. Against Snow College, Berry led the Cougar offense on an 80-yard drive, finishing with a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andy Hadfield.
HOME SWEET HOME
With a 35-32 victory over Hawaii on Sept. 6, the Cougars extended their home win streak to 10 straight games. The current home win streak dates back to Oct. 26, 2000 (vs. Wyoming). Since Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 18, 2001, the Cougars have never lost a game in Provo, posting a 9-0 record. The current streak marks the longest home win streak for the Cougars since winning 17 straight from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991. With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo last season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home seasons since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998.
Saturday's game will mark the 78th Homecoming game at BYU since 1922. The Cougars have posted a record of 37-18 (.673) since the 1974 Homecoming contest -- a 27-12 win over Utah State. During the LaVell Edwards era, the Cougars posted a 27-13 (.675) record in Homecoming games. Last season, under first-year head coach Gary Crowton, the Cougars recorded a 63-33 win over Air Force, marking the second time BYU has recorded 63 points in a Homecoming Game. The Cougars chalked up a 63-28 win over UNLV in the 1996 Homecoming contest.
LAST WEEK (AIR FORCE 52, BYU 9)
Air Force quarterback Chance Harridge ran for 104 yards on 22 carries, scoring four touchdowns to lead the undefeated Falcons (6-0, 3-0) to a 52-9 victory over Brigham Young (3-3, 0-1) on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2002. Looking to avenge last season's 63-33 loss in Provo, the Falcons not only dominated the game on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 463 total yards, but the defensive side as well. The Air Force defense held the Cougar offense to only 304 total yards, with 325 yards passing and a season-low -- 16 yards rushing. The Cougars started things off with a 35-yard Matt Payne field goal, capping a 10 play, 62 yard drive to start the game. The Falcons came storming back, running the ball 12 times for 80 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run by Harridge. After BYU went three-and-out on the very next series, Air Force came back with nine more running plays to reel off 67 more yards and another Harridge touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Falcons gave BYU a dose of its own medicine, executing the on-side kick. (Last season, after the Cougars scored on the opening drive, BYU used an on-side kick to take a quick 14-0 lead.) Facing a fourth-and-one from the BYU 44 yard line, Leotis Palmer picked up 16 yards to extend the Air Force drive as the first-quarter expired. The fourth-down gamble paid off, as a few moments later, Darnel Stephens found the endzone on a 7-yard run, marking his first career touchdown. In all, the Falcons reeled off 45 unanswered points before backup quarterback Matt Berry found tight end Gabe Reid on a 13-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Air Force put the icing on the cake with another one-yard Falcon touchdown run by Tim Gehrsitz, completing a nine-play, 49 yard drive. On the night, Bret Engemann finished with 10-of-22 completions for 143 yards and two interceptions. Todd Mortensen was 6-for-15 for 70 yards, and also had two interceptions. Berry was 6-for-8 for 95 yards and had one touchdown completion. Running back Marcus Whalen led the Cougars with 41 yards rushing on just nine carries.
Including the Cougars' 52-9 loss at Air Force on Saturday, BYU has posted a 2-2 record in league-openers since joining the Mountain West Conference in 1999. Entering the 2002 season, the Cougars were tied with Air Force, New Mexico, Utah and San Diego State with a 2-1 record in league-openers. Interestingly, Air Force has been responsible for both of BYU's MWC season-opening losses. The last time BYU lost its MWC season-opener, the Cougars responded with a 10-7 win over UNLV to improve to 1-1 in league play.
FOURTH AND GO FOR IT
Including four fourth-down attempts at Air Force, BYU is 12-of-26 (.462) on fourth-down attempts this season. Against the Falcons, the Cougars failed to convert a fourth-down attempt. BYU recorded a season-high four fourth-down conversions at Utah State. Against Nevada, the Cougars were a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth-down attempts. On the season, BYU is averaged two fourth-down conversions on 4.3 attempts per game. Last season, the Cougars were 16-of-21 (.762) on fourth-down attempts, averaging 1.2 conversions on 1.6 attempts per game.?
NOT SO FAST
Matt Payne's 35-yard field goal with 11:40 remaining in the first quarter against Air Force marked the first first-quarter points scored by the Cougars since posting seven first-quarter points in the season-opener against Syracuse. Through six games, BYU has scored just 10 points in the first quarter of play. In fact, the Cougars have been outscored 44-10 during first-quarter action. Prior to Payne's field goal, the Cougars had not scored in the first quarter since recording a 6-yard touchdown pass from Bret Engemann to Andrew Ord with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter against Syracuse. Prior to the Air Force contest, the Cougars had 16 different first-quarter possessions, and had crossed midfield only six different times. Over that four-game span, BYU's average first-quarter field possession was its own 46 yard line. Over the past five games, including Saturday's game at Air Force, the Cougars have entered the Red Zone only once.
In the first three games of the season, the Cougars were flagged a league-leading 37 times for 325 yards, including 13 times for 140 yards at Nevada. The Cougars averaged 12.3 penalties for 108.3 yards per game. Against Georgia Tech, BYU was flagged for a season low seven times for only 31 yards. Against Utah State, the Cougars were penalized 10 times for 71 yards, marking the fourth game this season BYU has had 10 or more penalties. Against Air Force, the Cougars were flagged just three times for a total of five yards, marking the fewest penalties in a game since being flagged twice for 10 yards at New Mexico on Oct. 3, 2001. On the season, BYU is averaging 9.5 penalties for 72.0 yards per game.
POINT PRODUCTION DOWN
Entering last Saturday's game with a 31.6 points-per-game average, the Cougars scored just nine points against Air Force. The BYU point total marked the fewest points scored in a game since posting just three points against Florida State in the 2000 season-opener. The Cougars' point production also marked the fewest points ever scored against the Falcons. After opening the season with a 42-point effort, the Cougars' point production has continued to fall. Since the season-opener, BYU has scored 35 points twice (vs. Hawaii, vs. Utah State), 28 (at Nevada), 19 (at Georgia Tech), and just 9 points at Air Force. At home the Cougars are averaging 38.5 points per game, while on the road, BYU has averaged 22.8 points per contest.
After losing four straight road games, dating back to the Cougars' loss at Hawaii last season, BYU defeated Utah State in Logan on Friday to record its first road win since upending Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., on Dec. 1, 2001. Saturday's loss at Air Force marked the Cougars' third road loss of the season. The UNLV game will be the first game in Provo since playing back on Sept. 6. Following the Oct. 19th game against UNLV, the Cougars will take to the road yet again, traveling to Colorado State. Over a span of the first seven weeks of the season, BYU has played just two home game. The Cougars are 7-4 (.636) on the road under head coach Gary Crowton.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 344 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Matt Payne's 35-yard field goal in the first quarter (at Air Force), BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 344 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars don't have a single person on their 2002 roster that was alive the last time BYU was shut out.