With a 2-0 league record, the Cougars will look to remain undfeated in league play against UNLV on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- After taking last weekend off, the Cougars will return to action this week, traveling to Las Vegas to take on UNLV in Mountain West Conference action.
After winning just one of their first three games, the Cougars have put together back-to back victories to improve their overall record to 3-2, including a league-leading record of 2-0 in MWC play. The Cougars picked up an important 31-24 victory at New Mexico before the bye week to capture their first road win of the season.
The Rebels enter Saturday's contest at Sam Boyd Stadium with a 2-4 overall record and a mark of 1-1 in league play. After recording a 27-0 victory over Utah, the Rebels have lost two straight, including a 17-point loss at Air Force on Saturday.
Game time at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (PT). The game will be broadcast regionally on The mtn.
THE BYU-UNLV SERIES
BYU will be looking for its 11th straight MWC win and its seventh consecutive victory in Las Vegas. The Cougars hold an all-time record of 11-3 against the Rebels, including a perfect 6-0 record over UNLV in Las Vegas. BYU is 2-0 against the Rebels during the Bronco Mendenhall era. BYU won six in a row from 1981-2001 but have never won more than two consecutive contests over the Rebels at any other time. The two teams first played each other in 1978 in Yokohama, Japan, with the Cougars taking a 28-24 win in the Land of the Rising Sun.
ON THE TUBE
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a regional television audience on The mtn. The game will mark the second of six times BYU will be shown on the network during the 2007 season. The Cougars went a perfect 6-0 in games televised on the Mtn. in 2006. Veteran sportscaster Bill Doleman will call the action with former BYU quarterback Blaine Fowler lending expert analysis. Jenny Cavnar will report from the sidelines.
A LOOK BACK: BYU 31, NEW MEXICO 24
BYU improved to 3-2 on the season and collected its first road victory of the season, defeating New Mexico 31-24. The Cougars got their 10th consecutive Mountain West Conference win and eighth straight MWC road victory behind quarterback Max Hall's 18 40, 251-yard night. Hall threw two touchdown passes on the night. Sophomore Austin Collie caught four balls for 98 yards, including a season-long 59-yard touchdown reception wtih 9:23 left in the third quarter to give the Cougars a 21-6 lead. The defense came up big, collecting five turnovers, including three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Senior linebacker Bryan Kehl had his first-career interception, returing it 36 yards to give BYU an early 7-0 lead in the contest. All totaled, BYU scored 24 of its 31 points as a result of turnovers.
BYE WEEK RECORD
Since the first official year of football at BYU, the Cougars are 36-27-2 (.569) in games following a bye week. Since winning the National Championship in 1984, BYU has won 19 of 27 games following a bye week. During the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 1-1, including a 50-51 overtime loss agianst TCU and a 52-7 victory over UNLV last season. Since the 2000 season, BYU has played on the road three times following a bye week, recording a 2-1 record. Interestingly, Saturday's game will mark the third time since the 2001 season the Cougars have played the Rebels following a bye week. BYU is 2-0 in the previous two meetings, including a thrilling 35-31 victory at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2001 and a 52-7 win in Provo last season. Since the 2000 season, the Cougars have scored an average 35.7 points per game following a bye week, allowing 26.8 points per game. Over the past six seasons, BYU has won post-bye weeks games by an average 8.9 points per game.
Entering Saturday's game at UNLV, the Cougars own a record of 93-18 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 73-5 since 1991 when rushing for 150 or more yards.) During the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 17-3 when rushing for 100 or more yards. This season, BYU has rushed for 100 or more yards in four games, including Arizona (104), Tulsa (157), Air Force (159) and New Mexico (112).
TALE OF THE TAPE
BYU's starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 318.4 pounds and average 6-feet-5. The front five will be going up against a UNLV defensive front measures an average 6-feet-2, 275 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars' front three average 6-feet-2, 270 pounds, while the Rebels' offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-4, 295 pounds per man.
HALL IN A DAY'S WORK
Sophomore quarterback Max Hall totaled 251 yards passing on 18-of-40 attempts in the Cougars' 31-24 victory over New Mexico. He was credited with two touchdown completions, including a season-long 59-yard pass to Austin Collie in the third quarter to give the Cougars' a 21-6 lead. Hall started his career with a 288-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Cougars' 20-7 victory over Arizona. Following another twotouchdown performance at UCLA, Hall racked up a career-best 537 yards passing and four more touchdown completions against Tulsa. On the season, Hall has completed over 59 percent of his attempts (131-221) and is averaging a league-best 352.0 yards per game. Hall is on pace to pass for over 4,200 yards on the season and rank among the top-five single-season performances in BYU football history. Hall had two touchdown completions against New Mexico, adding to his season total of 12. Through five games as a starter, only Ty Detmer had totaled more yards than Hall. In addition, Hall ranks behind only Detmer and Marc Wilson with 12 touchdown completions on the season.
BYU's first-quarter shutout against New Mexico marked the third time this season, and the second straight game, the Cougars had posted a first-quarter shutout. All totaled, the Cougars have held opponents scoreless in eight of 20 quarters this season. Against Air Force, the Cougars held the Falcons scoreless in the first two quarters of the game, marking the second time in four games BYU had shut out its opponent in the first half. The Cougars then held Air Force scoreless in the fourth quarter, marking the seventh out of 16 total quarters that the BYU defense has held its opponent scoreless this season.
The Cougars have scored first in 16 of the last 17 games, including the New Mexico game when Bryan Kehl picked off Donovan Portorie for a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown. BYU is 14-2 when it is the first to score in the game.
TAKING THE LEAD
After quarterback Max Hall found sophomore wide receiver Austin Collie for a 59-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, the Cougars held a 15-point advantage over the Logos. The score marked the biggest lead BYU has had since posting a 20-0 advantage over Arizona in the fourth quarter of the season-opener. A 29-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Harvey Unga gave the Cougars a 24-0 lead at the 10:54 mark of the third quarter, marking the largest lead BYU has held at any point this season.
Dating back to the 2006 season, the Cougars have led at halftime in 17 of the last 18 games, including four out of five games this season. During those 17 games, BYU is 15-3.
THE 100-YARD CLUB
Sophomore Dennis Pitta's 114 yards receiving against Air Force marked the second consecutive game BYU has had a 100-yard receiver (Pitta, Michael Reed and Austin Collie all caught for 100+ yards against Tulsa). Also, Harvey Unga's 111 yards on 22 carries marked the second consecutive game the freshman running back had rushed for at least 100 yards. The game marks the second straight contest the Cougars have had a 100-yard receiver and a 100-yard rusher. Collie came up just two yards shy of hitting the 100-yard mark against New Mexico. The Super Sophomore was credited with four receptions for 98 yards, including a career-best 59-yard reception in the third quarter to give BYU a 21-6 lead.
SEEING PITTA FROM THE POCKET
Sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta caught five passes for 114 yards against Air Force and racked up 113 receiving yards the previous week against Tulsa. The last BYU player to have two consecutive games with 100+ yards receiving was Jonny Harline in 2006. Harline totaled 118 yards against Utah and racked up 181 receiving yards the following game against Oregon in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl. Against New Mexico, Pitta had four receptions for another 49 yards and a touchdown. So far this season, Max Hall and Dennis Pitta have teamed up on 24 balls for a team-leading 375 yards. Pitta is averaging over 76 yards receiving per game. With both Pitta and Hall being only sophomores, they are on pace to become BYU's all-time leading quarterback-receiver duo. Currently, Ty Detmer and tight end Chris Smith own that distinction with 2,221 yards between 1988 and 1990.
MWC ROAD WARRIORS
The Cougars' victory at New Mexico marked the first road win of the season and extend the Cougars' conference road win streak to eight straight MWC road victories. The streak equals the most consecutive road wins in league play since the Cougars won eight straight league games from September 30, 1995 through September 27, 1997. The current streak started with a 27-24 win at New Mexico during the 2005 season.
DON'T LOOK BACK
In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 19-4 when leading at halftime and 17-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter. The loss at Tulsa marked the first time since September 16, 2006 the Cougars lost a game after holding a halftime lead. BYU led 34 31 at halftime against the Golden Hurricane; however, TU outscored the Cougars 24-13 in the second half to win the game, 55-47. Against Air Force, the Cougars held a 17-0 lead and added 14 more points in the second half to defeat the Falcons 31-6. At New Mexico, BYU held a 14-6 halftime lead, but entered the fourth quarter tied at 21. The Cougars outscored the Lobos 10-3 in the fourth quarter to claim the 31-24 road victory.
With 9:12 left in the first quarter, CJ Sanitago was credited with a career-long 75-yard punt. The play marked the longest punt since Matt Payne was credited with a 79-yard punt against top-ranked USC on September 11, 2004. The punt was five yards shy of Lee Johnson's 80-yard punt against Wyoming on October 8, 1983. Santiago finished the night with 10 punts for an average of 46.2 yards. Santiago is averaging 43.8 yards per punt and has six punts downed inside the 20-yardline.
WINNING TIME OF POSSESSION BATTLE
The Cougars rank third nationally in time of possession. BYU has owned the ball an average of 33:49 per game.
The Cougars posted a season-high 47 points on Tulsa, marking the most points scored since beating Wyoming 55-7 on November 9, 2006. The game marked the most points BYU has scored in a losing effort since falling to TCU in overtime, 50-51, on September 24, 2005. It's also the most points scored during regulation in a losing effort since losing to Utah State, 56-58, on October 30, 1993. Interestingly, since that game in 1993, the Cougars are 31-2 in games when the team scores 45 (or more) points.
COLLIE BREAKS SCHOOL, MWC RECORDS
Against Tulsa, sophomore receiver Austin Collie was credited with 366 all-purpose yards, including 245 combined return yards and 121 receiving yards, to break Pete Van Valkenburg's 35-year-old school record. Van Valkenburg racked up 306 all-purpose yards in a 33-14 win over Wyoming on November 4, 1972. Collie's total also eclipsed Larry Ned's Mountain West Conference single-game record of 319 yards in San Diego State's October 6, 2001 victory over Eastern Illinois. Additionally, Collie's mark set the new MWC sophomore record, clipping Aaron Brown's mark of 285 yards in TCU's victory over Colorado State on November 25, 2006. Collie, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound sophomore from El Dorado Hills, Calif., also set the Mountain West Conference single game individual and sophomore kick return yardage records with 237 yards on eight returns. Previously, Colorado State's George Hill held both records with 218 yards against Minnesota on September 10, 2005. Collie came up just three yards short of breaking Golden Richards' 36-year-old record of 247 combined return yards. Richards had 219 punt return yards and 28 kick return yards against North Texas during the 1971 season. Collie had 237 kick return yards and 8 yards on punt returns. Collie scored his first touchdown of the season with 8:19 remaining in the third quarter of the Cougars loss at UCLA, cutting the Bruins' lead to 20-10. The touchdown marked Collie's first since the 2004 season. Collie did not play in 2005 or 2006, serving a Church mission in Argentina. Collie scored again with 6:04 left in the third quarter to cut the Bruins' lead to just 20-17. Collie, a freshman All-American in 2004, caught seven balls for a game-high 79 yards and two touchdowns. Collie set a career-high with a 59-yard touchdown reception to give BYU a 21-6 lead over New Mexico. He finished the night with four receptions for a team best 98 yards -- just two yards shy of his second 100-yard game of the season. Collie has had at least one reception in 15 of his 16 games at BYU.
BYU Single-Game Record (Individual All-Purpose Yards) -- 336 yards
MWC Single-Game Record (Individual All-Purpose Yards) -- 336 yards
MWC Single-Game Sophomore Record (Individual All-Purpose Yards) -- 336 yards
BYU Single-Game Record (Individual Kick Return Yards) -- 237 yards
MWC Single-Game Record (Individual Kick Return Yards) -- 237 yards
MWC Single-Game Sophomore Record (Individual Kick Return Yards) -- 237 yards
THE TONGAN TWOSOME?
BYU's Tongan Trio, featuring running backs Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna and Harvey Unga, has been reduced to a twosome for at least a few weeks. Vakapuna broke his hand Sept. 15 against Tulsa and is expected to miss the next three weeks following surgery. The junior is averaging 7.6 carries per game and 3.2 yards per carry. Tonga and Unga have combined for 500 rushing yards and 431 yards receiving through the first five games, averaging 186.2 all-purpose yards per game. The Tongan Twosome has accounted for 40 percent of the Cougars' total offense. Tonga and Unga have been credited with 86.8 percent of the team's total rushing yards and 24.4 percent of the team's receiving yardage