LOSING STREAK OVER; Y. GEARS UP FOR WYOMING
With a commanding 34-10 win over league-leading San Diego State last Saturday, BYU collected its first MWC victory after losing three straight. With the three-game losing streak behind them, and needing to win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible, the Cougars will play host to Wyoming (2-7, 1-3) on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cowboys will enter Saturday's game following a 49-48 overtime loss at UNLV. The game, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MT), will be broadcast locally on KSL-TV, Ch. 5 by SportsWest.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a local television audience on KSL-TV. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. (MT). Dave McCann will call the action, with former BYU quarterback, Blaine Fowler, lending expert 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.
Following Saturday's game against Wyoming, the Cougars will play host to New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 16 for the final home game of the season. Game time is slated for 4 p.m. (MT).
After facing two nationally-ranked opponents in the first five weeks of the season, Wyoming got off to a sluggish 0-5 start, including a 47-7 loss against No. 4 Tennessee and a 38-7 defeat at No. 13 Washington. In the meantime, the Cowboys picked up their first win of the season on Oct. 5, knocking off The Citadel in Laramie, 34-30. And, in one of the biggest upsets in league history, Wyoming grounded 19th ranked Air Force 34-26. On Saturday, dreams of a post-season bowl bid came to an end with a 49-48 overtime loss at UNLV. The Cowboys will enter Saturday's game tied with BYU for sixth place with an identical 1-3 MWC record. Interestingly, Wyoming has lost its three league games by a combined 13 points -- only a 4.3 points-per-contest deficit. Senior quarterback Casey Bramlet leads the UW offense, averaging 272.1 yards of total offense per game.
BYU vs. WYOMING
Saturday's game will mark the 68th meeting between BYU and one of its oldest rivals, Wyoming. The Cougars own a 36-28-3 record in the series, dating back to 1922. Since joining the MWC, BYU is 2-1 against the Cowboys, with the Cougars' only loss in MWC play coming during the 1999 season, ending a BYU 8-game win streak. BYU has posted a 22-13 record against the Cowboys when playing in Provo. The Cougars have won 8 of the last 10 meetings, including 8 of the past 9 games. BYU has won two straight games in the series, including a 41-34 victory in Laramie last season. The Cowboys have won only twice in Provo since 1972, including their last win in 1987 -- a 29-27 win at Cougar Stadium. BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 1-1 against the Cowboys, including last season's 41-34 victory in Laramie. UW head coach Vic Koening is 0-2 against BYU. Four of the previous 10 meetings have been settled by 7 points or less, including 3 games that were decided by just 3 points. Over the past 10 games, BYU has outscored the Cowboys by just 7.2 points per contest.
A LOOK BACK (BYU 41, UW 34)
BYU defeated Wyoming, 41-34, in Laramie, but it took some late heroics to preserve the Cougars' 10th straight victory of the season. Brandon Heaney picked the perfect time to make his first interception of his career. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, and Wyoming facing a 3rd-and-24, Heaney cut off a Casey Bramlet pass and made the play of the game. On BYU's ensuing possession, Luke Staley took the ball in for one of his four touchdowns with 2:08 remaining in the game to give BYU a 41-34 lead late in the game. The BYU defense would need to step up once again, as Wyoming drove the field with less than a minute remaining. Facing 4th-and-goal, safety Levi Madarieta batted down another Bramlet pass to seal the Cougars' victory. Senior quarterback Brandon Doman was 23-for-38 for 268 yards, while Staley had 31 carries for 172 yards.
STILL BOWL HOPING
Thanks in part to a 12-game schedule, the Cougars must win 6 games in order to qualify for a post-season bowl bid. Saturday's victory over San Diego State marked the Cougars' fourth win of the season. BYU needs to win two of its final three games in order to qualify for a post-season bowl bid. The Cougars must play Wyoming and New Mexico in Provo, and will travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in the season finale.
COUGARS ENDS THREE-GAME LOSING STREAK
Redshirt Freshman Matt Berry completed 19-of-31 attempts for 280 yards with three touchdown passes, and the BYU defense held the potent San Diego State offense to just 10 points en route to a 34-10 win over the Aztecs. The win marked the Cougars' first league victory of the season, ending a three-game losing streak. The BYU defense came up big against the Aztecs, who entered the game averaging 426 yards per game. The Cougars stuffed Air-Aztec, limiting their high-flying offense to just 246 total yards, including 228 yards passing and just 18 yards rushing. Sophomore defensive end Brady Poppinga led the team with three sacks, a hurry and a forced fumble. Middle linebacker Mike Tanner, who was making his first collegiate start, led the Cougars with 11 tackles, including 6 solo takedowns. Sophomore safety, Aaron Francisco, came up with the hit of the game. On a first-quarter, 3rd-and-12 opportunity, SDSU quarterback Adam Hall drew a beed on All-MWC receiver J.R. Tolver. His pass was incomplete as Francisco leveled Tolver. Tolver did not return until the second half. He was virtually ineffective for the remainder of the game, hauling in just 4 receptions for 30 yards -- over 100 yards under his average. Offensively, the Cougars used a balanced attack, throwing the ball 33 times for 289 yards, and running the ball 36 times for 114 yards. The BYU offense racked up 34 points, accounting for 12 more points than it had scored in the previous three ball games. Sophomore kicker/punter Matt Payne helped the BYU cause, averaging 58.0 yards per punt, including a career-high 76 yarder. Payne was also 2-for-2 in the field goal department, connecting on two different first-half 47-yard field goals. The Cougars got off to a 20-0 lead in the first half, marking the first halftime lead since owning a 21-14 advantage against Syracuse in the season-opener. It was also the largest lead over an opponent this season since the Cougars victory over the Orangemen. With a 24-point victory, the game marked BYU's largest win of the season, and the fourth highest scoring output of the year.
Matt Payne's 47-yard field goal in the first quarter marked the third time this season the Cougars have managed to score before their opponent, and their first, first-quarter score since posting a field goal at Air Force.
Freshman quarterback Matt Berry and junior wide receiver Jason Kukahiko teamed up for a 37- yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, marking the Cougars' first, first-quarter touchdown since scoring on a 6-yard pass in the first quarter against Syracuse.
The BYU offense posted 20 first-half points against San Diego State, marking the most points the Cougars have scored in the first half since chalking up 21 points in the season-opener against Syracuse.
Entering Saturday's game, the Cougars had been outscored 64-10 in the first quarter of play. Against San Diego State, the Cougars equaled their entire first-quarter scoring total, posting 10 points against the Aztecs.
Entering Saturday's game, the Cougars had managed only 22 points over the previous three games -- an average of 7.3 points per contest. Against San Diego State, the Cougars posted 34 points, 12 more points than they had scored in the previous three games.
Rodney Allen's blocked punt in the second quarter marked the first blocked punt BYU has allowed since giving up a blocked punt against Tulane in the 1998 Liberty Bowl.
With Gabe Reid's 27-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, the Cougars extended their lead over SDSU by 24 points, marking their largest lead over any opponent this season.
For the first time since the Cougars' season-opener against Syracuse, BYU managed to score in all four quarters of play against San Diego State.
The Aztec's 10 points on Saturday marked the fewest points BYU has allowed since giving up just 7 points to Nevada last season.
Saturday's victory over San Diego State prevented a four-game conference losing streak. (BYU has not lost four straight league games since 1968.) The Cougars' victory also prevented a second straight home loss. BYU has not lost back-to-back home games since 1993. With the win BYU has won 11 of its last 12 home games.
The BYU defense held San Diego State to just 246 yards of total offense -- 180 yards below the Aztec's season average. San Diego State managed just 49 yards of total offense in the first half.
Entering Saturday's game, San Diego State had allowed just 9 sacks. The Cougar defense was credited with five sacks against the Aztecs, including 3 from defensive end Brady Poppinga.
Marcus Whalen's first-quarter touchdown run was his first touchdown carry since Sept. 14 against Nevada. Reno Mahe scored his second touchdown of the season -- a 4-yard reception from Matt Berry. Cornerback Jernaro Gilford posted his first interception of the season -- the Cougars' first since the Utah State game.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 347 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Matt Payne's 47-yard field goal in the first quarter against San Diego State, BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 347 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.
BERRY TAKING OVER BYU OFFENSE
Following his collegiate debut -- a respectable 6-of-8 performance for 95 yards against Air Force, BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced redshirt freshman Matt Berry would be the Cougars' starting quarterback against UNLV. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder became the first redshirt freshman to start at quarterback since Ty Detmer back in 1988. Berry is also the first starting quarterback to wear jersey No. 8 since Steve Young. In his first start since his senior season at Redmond (Wash.) High School, back in Nov., 1998, Berry completed 14-of-27 (.519) attempts for 186 yards against the Rebels. In his second start, against co-league leader Colorado State, Berry got off to a respectable pace, connecting on 7 of his first 7 attempts for 82 yards. He did not throw an incompletion until the 9:34 mark of the third quarter. In the second half, he was 10-of-19 for 66 yards, finishing the night with a 65.4 completion percentage. In the second quarter, Berry led the Cougars on an 84-yard drive, capped by a one-yard run -- his first career rushing touchdown. In his third career start, Berry led BYU to a commanding 34-10 victory over league co-leader San Diego State. He threw for a career-high 280 yards on 19-of-31 (.613) attempts and completed 3 touchdown completions, including a 37-yard strike to Jason Kukahiko in the first quarter, a 4-yard screen pass to Reno Mahe in the third quarter, and a 27-yard, game-clinching 27-yard completion to tight end Gabe Reid. On the season, Berry has passed for 709 yards on 56-of-95 (.609) attempts with 4 touchdown receptions. His efficiency (129.08) ranks second in the MWC. 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 WIN STREAK ENDS -- A NEW ONE BEGINS
A 24-3 loss against UNLV on Oct. 19 ended the Cougars' 10-game home winning streak. That streak dated back to Oct. 26, 2000 (vs. Wyoming). Since Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 18, 2001, the Cougars had never lost a game in Provo, posting a 9-0 record before losing to the Rebels. The stretch marked 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. In 2002, BYU is 3-1 at Edwards Stadium, and has won 11 of its last 12 at home, including a 34-10 win over San Diego State on Saturday.
34 -- THE MAGIC NUMBER
When the Cougars score 34 or more points, they have posted a perfect 4-0 record. BYU has registered wins over Syracuse (42-21), Hawaii (35-32), Utah State (35-34) and San Diego State (34-10). When BYU scores 28 or less points, the Cougars are 0-5.
COUGARS WIN FIRST SATURDAY CONTEST
Saturday's 34-10 win over San Diego State marked the Cougars' first win on a Saturday. Entering the game, BYU had posted an 0-4 record when playing on Saturday, including losses at Nevada, at Georgia Tech, at Air Force and against UNLV. The Cougars' three remaining games will all by played on Saturday. BYU posted a 1-1 record on Thursdays and a 2-0 record on Fridays.
Entering last Saturday's game against San Diego State, BYU had lost three straight games, marking the longest single-season losing streak since dropping games at Wyoming, Utah and against Marshall in the 1999 Motor City Bowl. A 34-10 win over the Aztecs on Saturday prevented a four-game losing streak. BYU had not lost four straight games since the 1993 season. Ironically, the Cougars' 1993 four-game losing streak came to an end after BYU defeated San Diego State, 45-44.
Entering last Saturday's game, San Diego State averaged a league-leading 426.6 yards of total offense per game, including 347.1 yards passing and 79.5 yards passing. The potent SDSU offense had averaged over 30 points per contest over the last three games. On Saturday, the BYU defense rose to the occasion, holding the Aztecs to just 246 yards of total offense -- over 180 yards below the team's average. The Cougars limited the SDSU running game to just 18 total yards on 28 carries. The Cougars' rush defense marked the best performance since limiting Utah State to just 11 yards rushing during the 2000 season. The BYU defense also held the Aztecs to just 228 yards passing on 26-of-46 attempts -- over 119 yards below their per-game average. The Cougars also managed to keep San Diego State off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter. The first-half shutout was the BYU defense's first since posting a first-half shutout against Nevada last season. The Cougars also recorded five sacks on the afternoon, including three from sophomore defensive end Brady Poppinga.
After starting the season with back-to-back wins, BYU has won only two of its last seven games to post a 3-5 record on the year. After dropping two games below the .500 mark (with a 37-10 loss at Colorado State), the Cougars moved back to within one game of the all-even mark with a 34-10 win over UNLV. The Cougars' current winning percentage marks the first time BYU has posted a sub-.500 record over the first nine games since posting a 4-5 record during the 2000 season. Ironically, the Cougars finished the season by winning three of their last four games to finish 6-6 on the year. BYU's sub-.500 record marks only the second time since the 1975 season the Cougars have not posted a winning record through the first nine games.
SLOW LEAGUE START
For the first time since the 1973 season -- LaVell Edward's second season as head coach -- the Cougars got off to an 0-3 start in league play. As in 1973, the Cougars snapped the three-game losing streak with a victory in the fourth league game of the season. (In 1973, BYU defeated New Mexico 56-21 to end the three-game skid.) With a win over San Diego State last Saturday, the Cougars avoided the longest conference losing streak since 1968.
Entering Saturday's game (against San Diego State), the Cougars were averaging just 22.6 points per game. BYU managed to post 34 points on the Aztecs, improving the Cougars' season average to 23.9 points per game. The 34 points marked the most points scored in a game since posting 35 against Utah State. BYU started the season with a 42-point effort against Syracuse, and followed that with a 35-point performance against Hawaii. From there, with the exception of the Utah State contest, the point production started to decrease. BYU managed 28 in a losing effort at Nevada, 19 at Georgia Tech, only 9 at Air Force, 3 against UNLV, and 10 at Colorado State. Scoring only 3 points against UNLV marked the lowest point total in a game in Provo since being shutout in 1971 (vs. New Mexico). In the previous three games, BYU had managed just 22 points, averaging just over 7 points per game. In those three games, BYU was outscored 113-22 (37.6 - 7.3).
The BYU defense failed to record an interception against Air Force, marking the first time in 20 games the Cougars did not pick off an opposing quarterback. Prior to Jernaro's first interception of the season (vs. San Diego State), the Cougars had gone three straight games without an interception. The streak of 20 straight games dated back to the Cougars' 34-27 win over Utah on Nov. 24, 2000. During that stretch, BYU recorded 36 interceptions, averaging 1.8 interceptions per game. The Cougars posted six games of three or more interceptions, including a streak-high four interceptions against Hawaii earlier this season. During the 2002 season, BYU has produced two or more interceptions in four of nine games. On the season, 10 different players have recorded at least one interception, including cornerback Brandon Heaney who has a team high three interceptions. Linebacker Levi Madarieta and cornerback Kip Nielsen each have two picks. Gilford, who had been suffering from a nagging injury, made his first measured performance against San Diego State. Gilford had played sparingly against Nevada and Georgia Tech. His fourth-quarter interception in the Aztec's endzone prevented a touchdown, and in essence sealed the BYU victory. Gilford has 8 career interceptions.
THE UPPER-CLASSMAN DIFFERENCE
Since the 1990 season, when BYU starts the season with a junior or senior quarterback, the Cougars have posted a 72.8 winning percentage. In that same time frame, when BYU starts the season with an under-classman, the Cougars win just 54.1 percent of their games. Since the 1990 campaign, BYU has only started an under classman in three different seasons, including 1992, 1993 and 2000.
For the sixth time this season, the Cougars were flagged for 10 or more penalties in Saturday's game against San Diego State. The Cougars were flagged 11 times for 96 yards, while a week earlier, BYU was penalized just twice for 12 yards at Colorado State, marking the fewest penalties in a game this season. Prior to the Colorado State game, the Cougars' season-low was 3 penalties (at Air Force). In the first three games of the season, the Cougars were flagged a league-leading 37 times for 325 yards, including a season-high 13 times for 140 yards at Nevada.On the season, the Cougars are averaging 8.9 penalties per game for an average 69.3 yards per contest. BYU opponents are being flagged just 5.2 times for 43 yards per contest. BYU been penalized 33 more times than its opponents, averaging 3.7 more penalties per contest.
NOT SO FAST
Against Colorado State, BYU failed to score in the first quarter, marking the sixth time in eight games the Cougars did not score in the first quarter of play. That all changed on Saturday, as the Cougars equaled their entire season, first-quarter total, posting 10 points on San Diego State. Entering the game, the Cougars had been outscored 64-10 in the first quarter of play. BYU went on to post 10 more points in the second quarter, taking a 20-0 lead into the halftime break. Matt Payne's 35-yard field goal with 11:40 remaining in the first quarter at 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 nine games, BYU has scored just 20 points in the first quarter of play. In fact, the Cougars have been outscored 64-20 during first-quarter action. Prior to Payne's field goal at Air Force, 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 eight games, including Saturday's game against SDSU, the Cougars have entered the Red Zone only once during the first quarter. Following is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of BYU's scoring:
A WHALE OF A TALE
In the season-opener (vs. Syracuse), Marcus Whalen's first career start, he turned in 140 yards on 19 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per touch. Whalen was credited with a career-high 58-yard run to the goal line, then bullied his way in to the endzone on the very next play for his first TD of the season. Against Hawaii, Whalen was credited with a career-high 30 carries, racking up 141 yards and two more touchdowns. In the third game of the season (at Nevada), Whalen turned in 135 yards on only 14 carries, averaging 9.6 yards per carry. During the first quarter, Whalen broke loose for what appeared to be a 92-yard touchdown run, but was returned to the 21 yardline after a illegal block was called on the Cougars. Whalen was officially credited with a career-long 71 yard run on the play. At Georgia Tech, Whalen played through the first quarter before being forced to sit the remainder of the game with a pulled abductor muscle. He did not play against Utah State while still recovering from the muscle injury. In his first game action since Sept. 21, Whalen carried the ball nine times for 41 yards against Air Force, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Against UNLV, Whalen was back to true form, carrying the ball 22 times for 105 yards -- his fourth 100-game of the season. At Colorado State, Whalen ran into a stingy CSU defense, but still managed 77 yards on 18 carries, including a 39-yard run that would eventually lead to a BYU touchdown. In the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Whalen totaled 75 yards on just 13 carries, averaging a bullish 5.8 yards per carry. Whalen did not have a single carry for negative yardage and scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter, marking his first touchdown since scoring on a 30-yard run at Nevada back on Sept. 14. On the season, Whalen ranks third in the MWC with a 90.9 yards-per-game average. Whalen is on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this season, needing just 273 more yards. With his 100-yard performance at Nevada, Whalen became the first running back in BYU history to start a season with three straight 100-yard outings.
727 YARDS DOWN, 273 YARDS TO GO
Should Whalen eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, he would become the seventh different (eighth overall) BYU ball carrier to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. It would also mark only the second time in BYU football history that the Cougars have had two different ball carriers run for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
WHAT A PAYNE
BYU kicker Matt Payne has been pulling double duty this season, serving as the Cougars' punter and kicker. Following the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Payne was named the MWC Special Team Player of the Week. Payne connected on four punts for a season-high average 58.0 yards per punt, including a career-high 76 yarder. That punt ranks fourth longest in BYU history. Payne also nailed two 47-yard field goals to help BYU to a 20-0 halftime lead. Admitting he likes to punt more than kick, Payne unloaded for a total of 402 yards on seven punts in the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Nevada. Against the Wolfpack, Payne averaged 57.4 yards per punt. During the game, Payne was credited with a 72 yard punt, surpassing his previous long by eight yards. At Utah State, Payne had three punts for 136 yards, averaging 45.3 yards per punt, including a 51 yarder. Against Air Force, Payne averaged 41.5 yards per punt. Currently, Payne leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks second in the nation with a 46.6 per-game average. In the kicking department, Payne is 8-for-10 on field goal attempts, including a stretch of eight straight field goals. Payne is a perfect 5-for-5 from 0-39 yards and 3-for-5 from 40-49 yards. On PATs, Payne is 21-of-24 (.875) on the season.
o repay an opponent for a previous loss. When the Cougars face an opponent, having lost in the previous meeting, they have recorded a 41-21 (.661) record. Since Nov. 7, 1998, BYU has not lost to an opponent in a payback situation, posting a perfect 15-0 record. BYU knocked off Syracuse on Aug. 29, then held off Hawaii on Sept. 6 for two straight payback opportunities this season.
28 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS AND COUNTING
Following a 63-33 win over Air Force on Oct. 20, 2001, the Cougars claimed their 28th straight non-losing season. BYU has not had a losing campaign since posting a 5-6 mark in 1973--former head coach LaVell Edward's second season as head coach. The Cougars' streak of 28 straight seasons ranks 11th all-time at the NCAA Division I-A level and is currently the third longest non-losing streak in the nation. (Nebraska ranks No. 1 with 40 straight seasons without a losing campaign.)
THE TETON TERROR
Known over the past 20+ years for its All-American quarterbacks, BYU is quickly becoming known for its outstanding tight ends. Senior tight end Spencer Nead is making a solid case to join the ranks of BYU's long line of outstanding tight ends, including Gordon Hudson, Chad Lewis, Itula Mili and Doug Jolley. Nead currently ranks tied for third in the nation (among tight ends) with 26 receptions for 323 yards on the season. Nead started the 2002 campaign with a career-high 80-yard performance in the Cougars' 42-21 win over Syracuse. Nead was one of three different receivers with five receptions on the night. All totaled three different BYU tight ends, including Gabe Reid and Aisaac Aiono accounted for 133 yards on 11 receptions. Against Hawaii, Nead recorded three receptions for 41 yards, including a team-high 22-yard reception. After just one reception at Nevada for 12 yards, Nead returned to form at Georgia Tech, recording three receptions for 21 yards. He was the only tight end with a reception against the Yellow Jackets. Against Utah State, Nead played a major roll in the come-from-behind victory, recording a team-leading 6 receptions for 47 yards. A week later, Nead again led BYU with 5 receptions for 77 yards (at Air Force). Against UNLV, Nead had 2 receptions for 21 yards. At Colorado State, Nead had only one reception for 24 yards, setting up a Matt Payne field goal to pull BYU to within 7 points late in the second quarter. In the Cougars' 34-10 win over San Diego State, Nead was credited with 2 receptions for 10 yards. On the season, Nead ranks second on the BYU roster with 28 receptions for 333 yards, averaging 37.0 yards per game. He is just one of three receivers with over 300 receiving yards on the season.