Rivalry Week: BYU vs. Utah

(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

COUGARS SET TO BATTLE UTAH

The Cougars, bowl eligible for the first time since 2001 after Saturday's win over Wyoming, are 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the Mountain West Conference. BYU has also clinched a share of second place in the conference. Colorado State and New Mexico could equal the Cougars' conference record but BYU holds the advantage over both teams. The Cougars will conclude their regular season at home against in-state rival Utah. BYU defeated Wyoming 35-21 behind a solid defensive effort and a methodical offensive attack. The Cougars ran for 267 yards, including 153 by Curtis Brown, on a season-high 50 rushes while John Beck completed 20-of-29 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns to Jonny Harline. Justin Luettgerodt led a defensive attack that forced five turnovers by recovering three fumbles and intercepting one pass to go along with seven tackles, including one for an 11-yard loss.

A LOOK AT THE UTES

Utah is coming off a 31-27 loss against New Mexico and is currently 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the MWC. The Utes led the Lobos for much of the game until New Mexico scored on a fumble return with just under eight minutes remaining. Utah was shutout in the second half and fell for the fourth time in the last six games. Quinton Ganther ran 15 times for 98 yards and Brian Johnson threw for 360 yards and four touchdowns before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter. The Utes turned the ball over five times, including twice in the fourth quarter. For the season, Ganther has rushed for 869 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson was one of the top quarterbacks in the conference before the injury, passing for 2,892 yards and 18 touchdowns while only throwing seven interceptions. Brett Ratliff, who replaced Johnson against New Mexico, will get the start on Saturday. The Utes need a win over the Cougars to become bowl eligible.

COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS

Television: BYU's game against Utah will be broadcast by ESPN+Plus. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. (MST). The game can be seen locally on KJZZ-TV Channel 14.

Radio: Fans can also catch the game by tuning into KSL Radio, 1160 AM and 102.7 FM, and follow the game live as Greg Wrubell calls the action, Marc Lyons offers expert analysis and James Dye reports from the sideline.

Internet: A live webcast of the game, which includes play-by-play and up-to-the minute statistics, can be viewed by logging on to: http://www.byucougars.com/. In addition to the webcast, a live audio stream will be available on the following URLs: http://ksl.com and http://www.byuradio.org

SERIES INFORMATION

Saturday's game will be the 81st meeting between BYU and Utah. The Cougars trail the Utes 28-48-4 overall and 13-16-1 in Provo. Last season, the Utes won 52-21 in Salt Lake to complete a perfect 11-0 regular season. The Cougars kept the score close in the first half, trading touchdowns with the Utes. Down 7-0 in the second quarter, John Beck completed a five-yard touchdown pass to Todd Watkins to tie the score. After a Utah touchdown, Curtis Brown scored on a six-yard run late in the second quarter to even the score at 14-all. The Utes found the endzone once more before the half and outscored BYU 31-7 in the second half to secure the victory. Beck finished the game with 213 passing yards and two touchdown passes, including a 16-yarder to Austin Collie in the third quarter. Brown ran for 84 yards and one score. Quinton Ganther led Utah with 122 rushing yards on 11 carries.

BYU IN THE STANDINGS AND BOWL ELIGIBILITY

With Saturday's 35-21 victory over Wyoming, BYU improved to 6-4 on the season and 5-2 in the MWC. With the win, the Cougars clinched at least a share of second-place in the conference. With the victory on Nov. 12, the Cougars improved to 6-4 on the season and moved two games over the .500 mark for the first time since opening the 2002 season with back-to-back wins. BYU has won its last five conference games, defeating New Mexico, Colorado State, Air Force, UNLV and Wyoming during the streak. It is the Cougars' first five-game conference win streak since 2001, when BYU went undefeated in the MWC. With six wins on the season, the Cougars are bowl eligible.BYU was last bowl eligible in 2001. The Cougars will wrap up the season in Provo against in-state rival Utah.

FIVE MORE TAKEAWAYS

Against Wyoming, Corby Hodgkiss picked off a Corey Bramlet pass with just over a minute left in the first half. It was the third turnover of the half the Cougars forced. It marked the third-consecutive game BYU forced at least three turnovers. Wyoming ended up turning the ball over five times, including three fumbles and two interceptions. The Cougars forced five turnovers against Air Force and three against UNLV and have only turned the ball over twice in those three games, both against the Falcons. BYU has forced 22 turnovers this season, and given up 17 for a +5 turnover margin, good for second best in the conference. Going into the Air Force game, the Cougars were last in the conference and 101st in the nation in turnover margin at -6.

 

STAT WATCH

John Beck and the Cougar offense are among national and conference leaders. Beck currently ranks fifth nationally in passing yards per game (304.8 p/g) and is third in total passing yards (3,048). He leads the Mountain West Confernce in both categories. He leads the conference and is tied for eighth nationally with 22 touchdown passes. BYU's passing offense is eighth in the nation and first in the conference while its total-offense average of 461.8 yards per game is second in the conference and 13th in the nation. Beck is second in the conferenece and 11th nationally in total offense (305.7 yards p/g). Curtis Brown is third and Jared McLaughlin is fourth in the conference in scoring (8.0 and 7.4 pts/g, respectively). As a team, the Cougars are second in the conference in points per game and 23rd in the nation at 33.4. Brown is fourth in the conference in rushing yards per game (94.2). As a team, the Cougars lead the conference in third-down conversions (45.5 percent), blue zone offense (88.5 percent) and first downs (261). They are second in the conference in turnover margin (+5).

TURNOVER MACHINE/MWC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (NOV. 13)

Justin Luettgerodt was credited with four of BYU's five turnovers, including three fumble recoveries and a late, game-clinching interception to lead the Cougars to a 35-21 victory over Wyoming. He totaled seven tackles (four solo) in the game, including one tackle for a loss of 11 yards. Luettgerodt had one turnover in each quarter, with BYU converting his three fumble recoveries into 21 points. His third fumble recovery came at the Cougar 6-yard line with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter when Wyoming was threatening to tie the score at 28 apiece. Luettgerodt's interception came on the Cowboys' final drive, which sealed the BYU victory. On the season, Luettgerodt leads the Cougars with 9.0 tackles for a combined loss of 47 yards, including 4.5 sacks. He also leads the BYU roster with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

MWC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (NOV. 13)

Brown rushed for 153 yards on 25 carries (6.1 yards per carry) and had two touchdowns in BYU's 35-21 win at Wyoming. His first touchdown gave the game at 14 and his second gave the Cougars a 21-14 advantage. He also had two receptions for 24 yards. Brown tied a BYU record with his 10th 100-yard performance and is only the second Cougar running back, along with Luke Staley, to accomplish the feat during his junior season.

ON PACE

With 942 yards on the season, averaging 94.2 yards per game, Curtis Brown is on pace to run for over 1,036 yards this season. With 58 yards next week against Utah, Brown would reach the 1,000 yard mark. The last time a BYU back had 1,000 rushing yards in a season was in 2001, when Luke Staley had 1,582.

BIG RUN BECK

In the third quarter against Wyoming, facing a third-and-five from the BYU 25, John Beck avoided a Cowboy blitz and ran for 45-yards. Beck ran for 40 yards on the game.

STADIUM SELLOUT

Saturday's game at Edwards Stadium has been sold out. A crowd of over 64,045 is expected. While the Cougars are averaging a league-high 56,982 fans per game, Saturday's game will be the first sellout of the season. It will also mark the third sellout in the past two seasons, and the first time a capacity crowd attended last year's game against UNLV.

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

John Beck threw two touchdown passes against Wyoming, both to Jonny Harline, Beck now has 22 touchdown passes for the season, tied with Cody Bramlet for fifth most in the MWC for a single season. He also has 42 in his career, third best in the MWC for career touchdowns and five from tying Alex Smith for second most.

WHERE'S THE BEEF?

The BYU offensive line doesn't order salads when it goes out to eat. Each starter weighs over 300 pounds for an average of 325 and a total of 1,625 pounds. They will be going up against a Utah defensive line that weighs an average of 304.4 pounds. The Ute offensive line weighs on average of 305.2 pounds while BYU's defensive line weighs an average of 285.25 pounds.

NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER

Since 1972--LaVell Edwards first year as a head coach at BYU--the Cougars have posted an impressive 92-25-1 (.784) record in the month of November. There have been a total of 17 times over that span that BYU has gone undefeated during the month of November, including a stretch of seven straight seasons where the Cougars did not lose a single game in the month of November (1979-1985). Throughout his 29 seasons, Edwards won over 81 percent of his games during the month of November, including a record of 84-19-1 from 1972 until his final season in 2000. During that span, the Cougars had only three losing records during the month of November.

Since Edwards' retirement in 2000, the Cougars have tallied a 8-6 (.571) record in the month of November. During Gary Crowton's first season as head coach, BYU went 3-0 in November to finish as the first MWC team to sweep its league schedule. Since that time, the Cougars have gone 3-6 over the next three seasons during the month of November. Entering November this year, BYU needed to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible. The Cougars defeated UNLV 55-14 and Wyoming 35-21. BYU now plays Utah at home to finish the season. Since 1922, BYU is 25-20-1 against Utah during November. The Cougars are bowl eligible for the first time since 2001, when they went to the Liberty Bowl.

200 RUSHING YARDS

Against Wyoming, the Cougars ran for over 200 yards for the third-consecutive game and the fourth time this season. BYU had 267 on 50 carries and is 4-0 in those games. The Cougars had 274 yards at Colorado State, 300 against Air Force and 224 at UNLV.

GOOD GRIEF CURTIS BROWN

Junior running back Curtis Brown ran for 153 yards and scored two touchdowns on 25 carries against Wyoming, giving him 10-career 100-yard games. Brown, a junior, is now tied with Luke Staley, Jamal Willis, John Ogden and Lakei Heimuli for most career 100-yard games in BYU history. Brown and Staley are the only two backs to reach the 10-game mark during their junior seasons. Interestingly, both touchdown runs for No. 6 went for six yards. It was his fourth multiple-touchdown game of the year. He scored two against Colorado State, four against Air Force, two against UNLV and two against Wyoming. All four games have come in a five-game span. Brown now has 13 touchdowns on the season, 12 rushing and one receiving.

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS

The Cougars scored touchdowns after recovering Wyoming fumbles in the first, second and third quarters. In the last three games, BYU has scored 52 points off opponent turnovers. Against Air Force, the Cougars scored 10 points off turnovers and had 21 off turnovers against UNLV.

LONGEST DRIVE

In the second quarter, Curtis Brown scored his second touchdown against Wyoming to complete a 17-play, 89-yard drive that lasted 8:21. The drive was the longest of the season as far as time (8:21) and the 17 plays were the most for any drive. The 89 yards makes the drive the third longest of the year. Later in the game, the Cougars had a 94-yard, 10-play drive that lasted 5:46, marking the longest (yardage) drive of the season. The previous long was a 93-yarder against New Mexico.

BRONCO MENDENHALL

After 16 seasons as an assistant coach, including the past two years as the defensive coordinator for the Cougars, Bronco Mendenhall was promoted to head football coach at Brigham Young University on December 13, 2004. Mendenhall becomes the 14th head coach since the University first officially recognized football as an intercollegiate sport in 1922.

Mendenhall (38)--one of the youngest NCAA Division I-A head coaches in the country--has served the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Cougars. During his first season in Provo, Mendenhall engineered the nation's 14th-ranked defense, holding opponents to just 307 yards per game. Under Mendenhall's direction, the Cougars ranked eighth nationally in passing defense, giving up just 176.17 yards per game.

In 2004, the Cougars ranked third in the Mountain West in rushing defense, allowing 149.3 yards per game. The Cougars also ranked second in the league, with 34 sacks for a combined loss of 232 yards.

A native of Alpine, Utah, Mendenhall began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1989 at his alma mater, Oregon State. After earning his master's degree in 1990, he moved to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, where he served as the secondary coach and defensive coordinator from 1991-92 under current BYU assistant coach Paul Tidwell. Following two seasons with the Badgers, Mendenhall became the secondary coach at Northern Arizona, where the Lumberjacks boasted the top-ranked defense in the Big Sky Conference. He was elevated to co-defensive coordinator for the 1994 season.

In 1995, Mendenhall returned to Oregon State to become the defensive line coach under then defensive coordinator Rocky Long. When Long left to become the defensive coordinator at UCLA, Mendenhall was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 1996 season. At just 29 years of age, Mendenhall was the youngest defensive coordinator in Pac-10 history.

In 1997, Mendenhall became the secondary coach at Louisiana Tech where he helped the Bulldogs to a remarkable 9-2 record as his defensive unit was credited with 17 interceptions, allowing just 15 touchdowns on the season.

In 1998, Mendenhall moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to become the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of New Mexico. Over the next five seasons, the Lobos improved from just three wins in 1998 to seven wins and an invitation to the Las Vegas Bowl in 2002. In the Lobos' 27-13 loss against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Mendenhall-led defense held the Bruins to a season-low 167 yards.

Under Mendenhall, the Lobos led the Mountain West Conference in rushing defense for three straight seasons. In 2001, New Mexico gave up just 87.4 yards per game over the season. In his final season in Albuquerque, Mendenhall led the Lobos to a top ranking against league opponents in total defense, allowing just 316.4 yards per game. The Lobos also led the MWC in sacks in both the 2000 and 2002 season, totaling 46 and 38, respectively.

At New Mexico, Mendenhall played a valuable role in the development of the 1999 Mountain West Player of the Year, Consensus All-American and first-round NFL Draft pick Brian Urlacher. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher was voted the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a Pro Bowl selection. Urlacher was one of two rookies to play all 16 games, starting at middle linebacker the final 14 games to establish a team record for starts at the position by a rookie. He shattered Bears rookie records with 165 total tackles and eight sacks, making him the second Chicago first-year player to lead the team in tackles. Urlacher finished his collegiate career ranked third on New Mexico's all-time list with 442 tackles.

As a player, Mendenhall was a two-year starter at cornerback for Snow College from 1984-85. In his second season, Mendenhall captained the Badgers to a perfect 11-0 record and the NJCAA National Championship. That same season, he earned many accolades, including first-team all-conference, all-region, second-team NJCAA All-America and JC Gridwire Academic All-America honors.

Mendenhall transferred to Oregon State and was a two-year starter, playing free safety, strong safety and linebacker for the Beavers. Mendenhall was a team captain as a senior and received the Leo Gribkoff Memorial Award, given to the team's most inspirational player.

Mendenhall was raised in Alpine, Utah, and graduated from American Fork High School in 1984. He received a bachelor's degree in education from Oregon State in 1988 and a master's degree in education with an emphasis in exercise physiology also from OSU in 1990.

His older brother, Mat, played football at BYU from 1975-79, before spending four years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. Another brother, Marty, was a former Mr. Utah bodybuilder. Mendenhall's father, Paul, was a defensive end at BYU from 1953-54.

Mendenhall, who resides in Alpine, Utah, is married to the former Holly Johnston of Missoula, Mont. The couple have three sons: Cutter (5), Breaker (3) and Raeder (18 mo.).

BECK NOTES:

-With 179 yards against Wyoming, Beck moved into second all-time in the MWC for the most career passing yards. He has 6,475 yards.

-With 383 yards passing against Air Force, Beck has nine career 300-yard games.

-With 42 career touchdown passes, Beck is in third place on the Mountain West Conference career touchdown completions list and five out of second.

-With 517 yards against TCU, Beck became only the third player in league history to pass for over 500 yards in a game.

-Beck has passed for 3,048 yards this season, averaging 304.8 yards per game. Beck is on pace to pass for over 3,350 yards in 2005. While that total does not crack the single-season top-10 for a Cougar quarterback, Beck already ranks ninth all-time at BYU for career passing yards with 6,475.

HALFTIME LEAD

The Cougars led 28-14 at the half against Wyoming. It was the sixth time this season BYU led at the half. The Cougars are 5-1 in games when leading at halftime. In those six games, BYU's average lead at the half is 18 points.

RUSHING DEFENSE

BYU held UNLV to just two yards rushing on the day, tying Air Force for the best performance by a rush defense this season. The Falcons held the Rebels to two yards. That total is a season-best and marks the fourth time this season the Cougars have held an opponent to 70 yards (or less) rushing. The Cougars held Notre Dame to just 44 yards rushing, gave up just 30 yards against Colorado State and 70 against Eastern Illinois. The two yards rushing by UNLV is the least allowed by BYU since 1988 when the Cougars held Colorado State to minus 26.

BROTHERS DON'T SIT, BROTHERS GOTTA PLAY

BYU has a long tradition of several members from the same family suiting up to hit the gridiron. Brothers Lance, Jr. and Dallas Reynolds have started all 10 games this season. Lance, a senior, is on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the top center in the nation. Dallas, a freshman, was heavily recruited out of high school and joined the Cougars this season after serving an LDS mission in Seattle, Washington.

DOUBLE DUTY IN THE ENDZONE

Curtis Brown and Jonny Harline both scored two touchdowns against Wyoming. Harline's TD's came off passes from John Beck, while Brown scored one two six-yard runs.Harline now has four touchdowns on the year while Brown has 13.

PUNT RETURN FUTILITY

Saturday's game against Wyoming marked the 102nd-straight game that the Cougars have not scored a touchdown on a punt return. The streak dates back to Oct. 18, 1997 when Jaron Dabney returned a punt 83 yards in the Cougars' 17-3 win at Hawaii. BYU has a streak of 279 punt returns without a return for touchdown.

KICK RETURN FUTILITY

Saturday's game against Wyoming marked the 90th-straight game that the Cougars have not returned a kickoff for a touchdown, marking a string of 285 kick returns without a touchdown. Mike Rigell was the last BYU player to return a kickoff (96 yards), leading the Cougars to a 31-9 win against Hawaii on Oct. 17, 1998 in Provo.

SCORELESS QUARTERS

Against Wyoming, BYU shut the Cowboys out in the second and fourth quarters. The Cougars now have 12 quarter shutouts on the season.

CAREER 300-YARD GAMES

BYU has traditionally focused on the pass, leading to 21 different Cougars throwing for 300 yards in at least one game for a combined 182 games. Junior John Beck has made a contribution of nine games to that list. He entered the 2005 season with four but threw for 330 yards against No. 22 Boston College, 517 against TCU, 371 at New Mexico, 317 at Notre Dame and 383 against Air Force. Beck is now tied for ninth place. Ty Detmer tops the list with 34. Cougars with 300-yard passing games:

Ty Detmer 34

Jim McMahon 17

John Walsh 17

Robbie Bosco 15

Marc Wilson 13

Steve Young 13

Steve Sarkisian 12

Kevin Feterik 11

John Beck 9

Gifford Nielson 9

Gary Sheide 5

Sean Covey 5

Ryan Hancock 4

Brandon Doman 3

Bob Jensen 3

Steve Lindsey 3

Virgil Carter 3

Bret Engemann 2

Charlie Peterson 2

Matt Berry 1

Marc Lyons 1

SURPASSING THE CENTURY MARK

With 153 rushing yards against Wyoming, Curtis Brown is tied for the most 100-yard rushing games in BYU history with 10. Against Eastern Illinois, he had 110 yards and scored one touchdown. Versus New Mexico, Brown had 104 yards and one score on 20 carries. In the 24-14 win over Colorado State, he had 147 yards and two scores on 31 carries. Brown set career highs against Air Force with 219 yards and four touchdowns. Cougars with five-or-more 100-yard rushing games:

Luke Staley 10

Lakei Heimuli 10

John Ogden 10

Jamal Willis 10

Curtis Brown 10

Pete Van Valkenburg 8

Jeff Blanc 7

Eldon Fortie 7

Brian McKenzie 7

Ronney Jenkins 7

Marcus Whalen 5

Kip Jackson 5

Kalin Hall 5

Senior receiver Todd Watkins, who had 176 receiving yards in BYU's 51-50 loss to TCU, now has six career games with over 100 yards receiving and is tied for ninth most. His 211 yards against Boise State in 2004 were the most receiving yards registered by a Cougar since Ben Cahoon had 219 against Arizona State in 1997. Cougars with four-or-more 100-yard receiving games:

Eric Drage 12

Chris Smith 11

Margin Hooks 10

Phil Odle 10

Gordon Hudson 9

Matt Bellini 9

Andy Boyce 8

Mike Chronister 8

Mark Bellini 7

Lloyd Jones 7

John Van Der Wouden 6

Todd Watkins 6

Glen Kozlowski 5

Dan Plater 5

Reno Mahe 5

Ben Cahoon 4

Brent Nyberg 4

Chuck Cutler 4

David Mills 4

Jay Miller 4

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