No. 25 BYU Clinches Share of MWC Crown
COUGAR TOWN -- No. 25 BYU (8-2, 6-0) guaranteed itself at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title, and its senior quarterback guaranteed his place in BYU history, as the Cougars kept their MWC-undefeated season alive with a 55-7 win over Wyoming (5-5, 4-2). A win against either of BYU's final two opponents (New Mexico on Nov. 18 or Utah on Nov. 25) will give the team its first outright conference title since 2001.
John Beck surpassed former Cougar-great Jim McMahon in both career passing and career total offense Thursday night with a 20-26, 313-yard performance. The highly acclaimed quarterback threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more. Beck now has 9,805 career passing yards and 9,810 career yards of total offense, marking him as BYU's second most prolific in both categories.
Wyoming came into LaVell Edwards Stadium holding its opponents to an average of 140 passing yards per game this season. At halftime, Beck had already thrown for 269 yards.
"I was extremely proud of John Beck tonight and his accomplishment, becoming the second all-time leading passer," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "As he visited with the team in the locker room, he said it isn't about him and he's anxious for a championship. I couldn't ask him to handle it better or be a better leader than what he is."
Beck leap-frogged McMahon on the career passing list fairly early when he connected with sophomore Michael Reed for a 36-yard reception on a third-and-one in the first quarter. The toss gave Beck his 9,540th career passing yard, four more than McMahon's 9,536. Later, in the second quarter, Beck moved into second place all-time in total offense twice; once after a 22-yard completion to Nate Meikle and a second time after a 13-yard completion to Jonny Harline. Beck was sacked for a seven-yard loss between the two plays.
McKay Jacobson returned a punt 77 yards into the end zone with 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving BYU its first punt return for a touchdown since 1997 when Jaron Dabney did it against Hawaii. It also gave BYU a 55-0 lead, putting a stamp on a dominating night for the Cougars.
I'm proud of our football team," Mendenhall said. "They showed tremendous focus, consistency, concentration and execution tonight. It's a football team that is improving and wants to win. They want to establish that right from the start."
Mendenhall couldn't have asked for a better start on this night. Meikle returned the opening kickoff 88 yards before being tracked down by a Wyoming defender at the two-yard line. Three plays later, Brown punched it in for a one-yard touchdown run, and BYU took a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Had Meikle scored on the play, it would have been the Cougars' first kickoff return for a touchdown in 101 games.
Beck's 36-yard completion to Reed on BYU's next possession set up a six-yard touchdown reception to Harline, giving the Cougars a 14-0 lead.
A strong defensive stand placed BYU on its own 32-yard line to begin its next drive. One 35-yard Beck-to-Harline connection and one 33-yard Beck-to-Reed touchdown reception later gave the Cougars a 21-0 advantage at the 4:35 mark in the first quarter. BYU has outscored its opponents 110-12 in the first quarter this season.
The Cougars continued to bully the Cowboys defense in the second quarter, taking a 28-0 lead behind a 15-play, 93-yard drive that was capped by another one-yard touchdown run by Brown on a fourth-and-goal. Brown finished with 92 rushing yards on 22 carries and two rushing touchdowns. The senior running back needs only 39 yards to pass Jamal Willis as BYU's all-time rushing yards leader.
With less than a minute to go in the first half, BYU put three more on the board when Jared McLaughlin chipped in a 33-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 31-0 cushion at halftime. The score put a lid on an 11-play, 58-yard drive.
BYU's defense stifled the Wyoming offense throughout the first half, holding the Cowboys scoreless and limiting them to just 69 yards of total offense. Wyoming punted five times out of its six first-half possessions. BYU junior Ben Criddle intercepted Wyoming's last offensive play of the half.
Quinn Gooch got the Cougars started in the second half with an interception of his own on Wyoming's 40-yard line during the Cowboys' first drive of the half. The junior ran it back 38 yards down the sideline before being forced out of bounds by Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween. Beck snuck in the one-yard touchdown run making it 38-0, BYU.
Beck marched his team 59 yards up the field on 11 plays on BYU's next possession, resulting in a 41-0 Cougar lead after an 18-yard field goal by McLaughlin. The big play of the drive came when Brown broke free for a 37-yard carry along the sideline.
At the 14:45 mark in the fourth quarter, the Cougars defense made a fourth-and-one stop on Wyoming's 49-yard line. The turnover sparked a 10-play, 51-yard drive. Beck punctuated the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the night, a one-yard jaunt into the end zone that put BYU up, 48-0.
A 71-yard touchdown run by Wyoming sophomore Devin Moore with six-and-a-half minutes to play gave the Cowboys their only score of the game. The Cowboys were held to 246 yards of total offense on the night.
"It's gratifying," Mendenhall said of clinching a share of the MWC crown. "There are still two games to go. No one on our team is satisfied yet. Our team is looking forward to playing our next opponent."
BYU hosts New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 18, at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. MDT, and fans can catch the action on The mtn.
Box Score (Final)
Wyoming vs #25 Brigham Young (Nov 09, 2006 at Provo, Utah)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Wyoming............. 0 0 0 7 - 7 Record: (5-6,4-3)
Brigham Young....... 21 10 10 14 - 55 Record: (8-2,6-0)
1st 13:03 BYU - BROWN 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 3-2 1:57
07:53 BYU - HARLINE 6 yd pass from BECK (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 7-61 1:51
04:35 BYU - REED 33 yd pass from BECK (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 2-68 3:15
2nd 06:58 BYU - BROWN 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 15-93 6:34
00:31 BYU - MCLAUGHLIN 33 yd field goal, 11-58 4:58
3rd 12:12 BYU - BECK 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 3-3 0:54
02:58 BYU - MCLAUGHLIN 18 yd field goal, 11-59 6:10
4th 09:30 BYU - BECK 1 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN kick), 10-51 5:15
07:44 BYU - JACOBSON 77 yd punt return (MCLAUGHLIN kick)
06:25 WY - MOORE 71 yd run (SCOTT kick), 2-80 1:14
FIRST DOWNS................... 10 18
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 23-144 43-141
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 102 313
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 28-14-2 26-20-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 51-246 69-454
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 0-0 4-108
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 9-171 1-84
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 2-38
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-46.2 2-44.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards............... 2-15 5-35
Possession Time............... 19:56 53:10
Third-Down Conversions........ 1 of 11 12 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 3 1 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 0-0 7-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-15 0-0
RUSHING: Wyoming-MOORE, Devin 5-94; SELDON, Wynel 8-25; WENDLING, John 1-16;
SWEEN, Karsten 6-12; HARRIS, Joseph 3-minus 3. Brigham Young-BROWN, Curtis
22-92; HAGUE, Mike 5-19; VAKAPUNA, Fui 4-17; TONGA, Manase 5-17; BECK, Jason
1-6; BECK, John 6-minus 10.
PASSING: Wyoming-SWEEN, Karsten 14-27-2-102; TEAM 0-1-0-0. Brigham Young-BECK,
RECEIVING: Wyoming-FORD, Michael 4-31; HOLDEN, Tyler 2-20; BETSCHART, Wade 2-19;
MOORE, Devin 2-12; SALYARDS, J. 1-9; LEVY, Derrick 1-6; SELDON, Wynel 1-5;
BOLLING, Greg 1-0. Brigham Young-HARLINE, Jonny 6-104; JACOBSON, McKay 3-26;
BROWN, Curtis 3-24; REED, Michael 2-69; MEIKLE, Nathan 2-30; COATS, Daniel 2-15;
MAHUIKA, Bryce 1-30; COLLIE, Zac 1-15.
INTERCEPTIONS: Wyoming-None. Brigham Young-GOOCH, Quinn 1-38; CRIDDLE, Ben 1-0.
FUMBLES: Wyoming-SWEEN, Karsten 1-0. Brigham Young-None.
Stadium: LaVell Edwards Stad. Attendance: 59901
Kickoff time: 6:06 End of Game: 8:56 Total elapsed time: 2:50
Officials: Referee: Scott Novak; Umpire: Bernard Rhodes; Linesman: Patrick Turner;
Line judge: Steve Hoslett; Back judge: Robert Wcetich; Field judge: Thomas Basset;
Side judge: Bill Agopian; Scorer: Media Relations;
Temperature: 38 Wind: 4 mph N Weather: Overcast
Wyoming vs #25 Brigham Young (Nov 09, 2006 at Provo, Utah)
SACKS (UA-A): Wyoming-ROBBINS, Aaron 2-0. Brigham Young-None.
TACKLES (UA-A): Wyoming-WENDLING, John 7-4; DOBBS, Ward 5-1; ROBBINS, Aaron 3-3;
ROGERS, Quincy 3-3; STINSON, Julius 4-1; GOLSTON, Dorsey 3-1; MACE, Corey 1-3;
CLAFFEY, Sean 1-3; MEDINA, Michael 3-0; HALL, Austin 3-0; CHASE, Luke 2-1;
UNREIN, Mitch 1-2; MAYES, Jake 1-2; JUERGENS, Mike 2-0; JOHNSON, Weston 1-1;
VINNEDGE, Billy 0-2; DUTMER, Danny 1-0; HAUGEN, Brandon 1-0; DIEHL, Adam 1-0;
LEWIS, Troy 1-0; SWEEN, Karsten 1-0; HOLLWAY, Rob 0-1; WHIPP, Zeb 0-1; GROOVER,
Mike 0-1. Brigham Young-JENSEN, Cameron 7-2; WAGNER, Aaron 3-4; GOOCH, Quinn
5-1; HOOKS, Terrance 3-1; CRIDDLE, Ben 3-1; SEMANOFF, Joe 3-0; TONGA, Matangi
2-0; HUTCHINSON, Nat 2-0; STACEY, Andrew 1-1; NIXON, David 1-1; HODGKISS, Corby
0-2; POPPINGA, Kelly 0-2; TIALAVEA, Russe 1-0; DOMAN, Shawn 1-0; BUCHANAN, Kayle
0-1; STAFFIERI, Mark 0-1; MIYAHIRA, Cole 0-1; ROBINSON, Justi 0-1; LOVELY, Gary
0-1; TAFUNA, David 0-1; KEHL, Bryan 0-1.
GAME NOTES: Cougars can Clinch Share of MWC Crown
PROVO -- The top two Moutain West Conference teams will battle for first place Thursday as No. 25 BYU welcomes Wyoming to LaVell Edwards Stadium for a nationally televised broadcast. If the Cougars win, they clinch at least a share of the MWC title with two games left. With a BYU win, the Cougars would need to win one of their final two games in order to clinch an outright MWC title. Wyoming enters the contest in second place, a game and a half behind BYU.
LAST WEEK RECAP
Defense propelled BYU, as the Cougars ensured themselves a winning season for the first time since 2001 by beating Colorado State, 24-3 on Saturday.
"I was very pleased with how our team performed tonight," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We knew this game would be a challenge, and I'm pleased with the leadership and poise that our team showed tonight. I was pleased with our defense. They've done exactly what we've asked them to do."
The Cougars, now 7-2 (5-0 MWC), held the Rams (4-5, 1-4) to just 151 total yards while sacking the Colorado State quarterback five times in the victory. Meanwhile, BYU had 402 yards of total offense. John Beck had another efficient day passing, completing 73 percent of his passes (22-of-30) for 290 yards.
BYU and Wyoming will meet for the 73rd time. The Cougars and Cowboys first met in 1922, which was BYU's first official year of football. Wyoming beat BYU, 13-0, in 1922. In recent history, the Cougars have won two straight and five of the last six. The last Wyoming victory was in 2003 when the Cowboys beat the Cougars, 13-10, in Laramie. Last year, BYU beat Wyoming, 35-21. BYU is 8-2 as a ranked team against Wyoming.
IN THE TOP-25
For the first time in 4 years, 10 months and 1 day -- to be exact -- the Cougars have earned a spot in the Associated Press Top-25 poll.
With a 24-3 victory over Colorado State on Saturday, BYU picked up its sixth straight victory and improved to 7-2 on the season. The Cougars rank 25th in this week's poll, trailing Texas A&M (24), Maryland (23), Boston College (22), Oregon (21) and Virginia Tech (20).
"We appreciate the recognition of being considered a top-25 football program," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "When you look back at the great tradition of BYU football, being ranked on a weekly basis is very much a part of that tradition. As we continue to improve and make progress, we expect this type of recognition for our program to continue. I'm very pleased with the direction this program is heading; however, we have a very important game this week. Our focus this week, as it is each week, will be on playing our next opponent."
BYU received 53 points and is ranked 27th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, trailing Clemson with 75 points. The Cougars were last ranked in the Coaches Poll on Sept. 8, 2002. The Cougars have not been ranked in either poll since that time.
- This is the first time BYU has been ranked in the AP Poll since the final poll of the 2001 season -- January 4, 2002.
- The last time BYU was ranked (in any poll) was prior to the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Nevada on Sept. 14, 2002. (After the loss, BYU was no longer ranked.)
- BYU has never been ranked in the Harris Interactive Poll.
- BYU has been ranked a total of 218 different weeks since the 1974 season, including this week's ranking in the top 25.
- BYU is 131-41 (.761) when playing as a ranked team.
- BYU is 8-2 against Wyoming when playing as a ranked team.
- BYU received its first-ever national ranking on Nov. 25, 1974 after beating Utah, 48-20, to improve to 7-3-1 on the season. The Cougars were ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll and No. 18 in the now-defunct UPI Poll.
TALE OF THE TAPE
BYU's offensive line checks in at an average 6-foot-4, 316.8 pounds. The Cougars' front line will be going up against a Wyoming defensive front that averages just over 6-foot-3, 266 pounds. (Advantage: BYU +50.8 pounds per man.) BYU's defensive line weighs in at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Wyoming's offensive line averages over 6-foot-5, 305.2 pounds. (Advantage: Wyoming +25.2 pounds per man.)
John Beck had another efficient day passing, completing 73 percent of his passes (22-of-30) for 290 yards against Colorado State, helping to improve the Cougars to 7-2 overall and 5-0 in league play.
Beck also took home some national hardware when he was named the Cingular All- American Player of the Week for his performance against UNLV
"John Beck is putting BYU back on the map for being a quarterback factory. He joins a long list of incredibly talented QB's who know how to shred a defense. He has a rocket for an arm. I have caught bullets from Donovan McNabb for years and John has a similar howitzer attatched to his shoulder. With defenders breaking on the ball as fast as they do, it is critical to get the ball into your hands as fast as possible. With his accuracy and his ball speed, he is making football look very easy right now. The way he spreads the ball around I would hate to be a defender facing the Cougars. With John's great play at BYU, his NFL stock is rising every week."
-- Chad Lewis, NFL All-Pro Tight End (Philadelphia Eagles)
-- Needs just 43 yards to pass Jim McMahon for second place on BYU's career passing list.
-- Needs just 216 yards to pass Jim McMahon for second place on BYU's career total offense list.
-- Leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks sixth nationally, averaging 290.6 total yards per game.
-- Leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks fourth nationally with an efficiency rating of 169.6 on the season.
-- Leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks second nationally with a 71.1 completion percentage.
-- Leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks fourth nationally, averaging 294.75 passing yards per game.
-- Has a touchdown to interception ratio of 20:4 on the season.
-- Holds the Mountain West Conference record for touchdown completions.
-- Has won 18 games as a starter.
COMPARING SENIOR QUARTERBACKS
-- The nation's top-ranked senior quarterback with a completion percentage of 71.1 on the season (185-of-260).
-- The nation's top-ranked senior quarterback, averaging 294.75 passing yards per game.
-- The nation's second-ranked senior quarterback, averaging 290.6 total yards per game.
-- The nation's second-ranked senior quarterback with an efficiency rating of 169.6 on the season.
GOOD GRIEF, CURTIS BROWN
Against Colorado State, Curtis Brown led BYU with 81 yards on 14 carriers. Brown would have had over 100 yards and a touchdown but his late TD run was negated by a penalty. Brown also caught five passes for 30 yards. Brown, who now has 2,840 career rushing yards, narrowed the gap between him and career rushing leader Jamal Willis (2,970) to 130 yards.
In the first nine games of the 2006 season, BYU has allowed just 128 points. With an average of 14.2 points per game, the Cougars currently ranked 11th in the country in scoring defense. BYU's current average is over half (30 points per game) of what it averaged last season through eight games. BYU's current average is the lowest scoring defense mark over the first nine games of a season since allowing just 13.4 points per game back in 1985.
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
BYU ranks fourth nationally in passing yards per game averaging 297.7. The Cougars will be going against the Cowboys fourth-ranked pass defense (140.1). Interestingly, the Cougars have already faced the 12th-ranked pass defense in San Diego State. John Beck threw for 240 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters against the Aztecs.