Cougars Host Boise State, Set Sights on .500 Mark
PROVO -- Following a come-from-behind, overtime victory at UNLV on Saturday (Oct. 25), the Cougars will return to Edwards Stadium to take on Boise State in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The game will be broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN, beginning at 5:45 p.m. (MST). The Cougars, now 4-5 overall on the season, will look to improve to 5-5 (.500) with a win on Thursday. Boise State, winners of five straight, will enter Thursday's game following a 77-14 pasting of San Jose State. The Broncos are 7-1 on the season and lead the WAC with a perfect 4-0 league record.
THE HISTORY: BYU vs. BOISE STATE -- The First Meeting
Thursday's game between BYU and Boise State will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The game will mark the third time this season BYU has faced an opponent for the first time, including games against USC (Sept. 6) and Stanford (Sept. 20). The Cougars are 0-2 in those games; however, since 1922, BYU has posted 42 wins against first-time opponents. Overall, the Cougars are 42-49-1 (.462) in games vs. first-time opponents. BYU head coach Gary Crowton has fashioned a perfect 2-0 record in games against Boise State. As the head coach at Louisiana Tech (1996-1998), Crowton and the Bulldogs posted a 31-27 win in 1997 and a 63-28 win in 1998 over Boise State. The game will mark the first time BSU coach Dan Hawkins has faced the Cougars.
COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS
TELEVISION - Thursday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPN. The game will be broadcast beginning at 5:30 p.m. (MST). ESPN has indicated the game will kickoff at 5:45 p.m. (MST). Mike Tirico will call the action with Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso lending expert analysis. Dr. Jerry Punch will report from the sidelines.
RADIO - Fans can tune to KSL Radio--the 50,000-watt home of the Cougars--and follow the action with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.
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:
In addition, a live audio stream is available at http://www.ksl.com.
From national publications to live television broadcasts, BYU football is one of the more visible programs in the country. Since its first national television appearance in 1974, BYU has posted a 52-35-2 record when playing nationally televised games, including a 24-16 mark on ABC and a 28-22-2 record on ESPN or ESPN2. Dating back to 1980, the Cougars have appeared on national television an average of three times per season. Since the 1980 season, BYU has played in at least one nationally-televised game per year. On Sept. 1, 1984, Robbie Bosco led BYU to a 20-14 victory over Pitt in the first live ESPN College football broadcast. Thursday's game will mark the fourth of five nationally televised games this season. (The Cougars' games at USC and UNLV were "split" nationally on ABC.)
THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE
Since the 1999 season -- the first year of the Mountain West Conference -- the Cougars have played on Thursday night eight different times, posting a 4-4 record. Thursday's game will mark the third and final Thursday night contest for the Cougars this season. BYU started the season with a 24-13 Thursday-night win over Georgia Tech
- Thursday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
- BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 2-0 against Boise State, racking up wins as the head coach at Louisiana Tech.
- The Cougars are 5-2-1 all time against teams from Idaho, including a record of 3-0 against Idaho State, 1-2 against Idaho and 1-0-1 against the College of Idaho. BYU has not played a team from the state of Idaho since 1955 -- a 49-6 loss at Idaho. The Cougars are 2-1 in Provo against teams from Idaho. BYU has not lost to a team from Idaho since 1955.
- The BYU roster includes three players from Idaho, including Levi Madarieta (Weiser), Scott Tidwell (Nampa) and Quinn Christensen (Idaho Falls) while the Boise State roster does not include a single player from the state of Utah.
- The Cougars recorded their fifth overtime victory on Saturday, defeating UNLV 27-20. Following an overtime victory, BYU has gone on to post a 3-1 record the
- The Boise State offense ranks third nationally, averaging 517.9 yards per game, while the BYU defense ranks 17th nationally, allowing just 302.56 yards per contest.
- The Broncos have averaged nearly 42 points per game, rankin fourth in the nation, while the Cougars rank 95th with an 18.99 points-per game average. The BYU defense ranks 62nd nationally, allowing 24.9 points per game.
- Boise State leads the WAC in eight different statistical categories, including Total Offense (517.9), Scoring Offense (41.9), Rushing Defense (75.5), Total Defense (340.0), Scoring Defense (15.9), Net Punting (37.5), Punt Returns (13.91), Passing Efficiency (161.4)
- Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie ranks sixth nationally in total offense, averaging 326.0 yards per game.
- Thursday's game will mark the 70th career game for BYU head coach Gary Crowton. In over five seasons as a head football coach at the Division I-A level, Crowton has tallied a record of 42-27 (.609), including a mark of 21-14 (.600) at BYU. Crowton spent three years as a head coach at Louisiana Tech, posting a record of 21-13 (.618).
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 359 GAMES AND COUNTING
Following Toby Christensen's 8-yard touchdown reception from Matt Berry in the second quarter at UNLV, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 359 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their rosters who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
The Cougars' 44-36 win over San Diego State on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003 marked BYU's 450th all-time victory, dating back to the 1922 season. Over that 80-plus-year span, the Cougars have posted a mark of 450-348-26 (.562). The win also marked the 20th victory for head coach Gary Crowton since taking over the helm of the BYU program in 2001. In his third season at BYU, Crowton has racked up a record of 20-14 (.588). Over the span of his career, including three years as the head coach at Louisiana Tech Crowton is 41-27 (.603).
COUGARS LOOK TO AVOID 35-YEAR OLD RECORD
The Cougars haven't lost four straight games in a single season since the 1968 season. Yet, having lost three straight at home, dating back to the Cougars Sept. 20 loss against Stanford, BYU is just one win away from equaling the 35-year-old record. After opening the season with a 24-13 win over Georgia Tech at Edwards Stadium, the Cougars have dropped three straight home games, posting a 1-3 mark on the season. The Cougars lost an 18-14 decision to Stanford, followed by a 24-10 loss against Air Force on Sept. 27. Most recently, BYU lost to Colorado State, 58-13, on Oct. 9, marking the most points ever allowed and the largest losing margin ever recorded in Provo. With a three game home losing streak, the Cougars will look to pick up a win against Boise State and avoid the first four-game home losing streak in Provo since the 1968 season. That year, under head coach Tommy Hudspeth, the Cougars were 0-5 in Provo. A win on Thursday, combined with a win in Provo on Nov. 22 (vs. Utah) would ensure the Cougars of their 32nd straight non-losing home season.
HOME SWEET HOME
With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo during the 2001 season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home season 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. BYU finished the 2002 season with a 4-2 home record, marking the team's 31st consecutive non-losing home season. The Cougars are 169-56 (.751) in Provo, dating back 40 years (1963), including a 10-7 (.589) home record against MWC opponents since 1999.
IN THE TRENCHES
The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,600 pounds, averaging 320 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a Boise State defensive line (two seniors, a junior and a sophomore) that tips the scales at an average 262.8 per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (three seniors) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Broncos' offensive line (two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore) average 290 pounds per man.
LAST WEEK (BYU 27, UNLV 20)
The BYU offense scored a touchdown on its only possession in overtime, and the defense intercepted a fourth-down, desperation pass by UNLV to earn a 27-20 victory over the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday. Matt Berry completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Toby Christensen to give the Cougars the lead following their first overtime possession. Berry was 3-for-4 for 24 yards in overtime, including two passes to Daniel Coats. Berry finished the game 31- of-44 for 274 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for one score -- a quarterback keeper to tie the score at 20-20 with just :29 seconds remaining. After Berry's touchdown pass in overtime, UNLV's offense took the field. On its first play, Rebel running back Dominique Dorsey rushed for six yards. But the Cougar defense would cause UNLV to lose eight yards on its next play, forcing a third and 12. The defense forced an incompletion on third down and Aaron Francisco intercepted a pass on fourth down to seal the Cougar victory, ending BYU's two-game losing streak. UNLV jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, benefiting from three Cougar turnovers on consecutive possessions, resulting in 10 Rebel points. But the Cougars would come roaring back in the second quarter, matching the Rebels' output in the first quarter to knot the game at 13 going into halftime. BYU scored first on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Berry to Christensen. Matt Payne rounded out the scoring, kicking 40- and 50-yard field goals in the first half of play. The two teams remained scoreless for much of the second half. The Rebels scored on a 22-yard pass from Kurt Nantkes to Earvin Johnson to take a 20-13 lead with 4:56 left to play in the game. After the UNLV score, BYU took over with 4:56 left in the game, and Berry led the team 70 yards down the field, scoring on a one-yard run to tie the game and force overtime. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the drive for 53 yards, completing passes to four different receivers.
- With a 27-20 victory over UNLV, the Cougars improved to 5-0 in overtime games. Each of the Cougars' five overtime games have been played on the road. With the win, BYU is now 2-0 in overtime games played at Sam Boyd Stadium. BYU defeated Wyoming in overtime in las Vegas at the 1996 WAC Championship game. Saturday's game was the first overtime contest since upending Virginia, 38-35, in Charlottesville during the 2000 season.
- The Cougars entered halftime with a 13-13 tie, marking the first time since the San Diego State game BYU has not trailed at the break. The game marked the fifth time this season BYU has not trailed at halftime.
- UNLV's Dillon Pieffer connected on a 33-yard field goal with 7:10 left in the first quarter, marking the sixth time this season (fourth straight game) BYU's opponent has scored first in the game. The Cougars are 3-3 when the opponent scores first.
- BYU receiver Toby Christensen was credited with 10 receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Christensen's performance marked the first time in nearly two seasons a receiver has produced 10 or more receptions. Christensen's 10 receptions marked the first time since the 2001 season finale on Dec. 8, 2001 (at Hawaii) that a BYU receiver has recorded 10 or more receptions.
- Defensive back James Allen was credited with 12 tackles in the Cougars' win over UNLV. Allen's double-digit performance marked the second double-digit tackle performance since David Nixon posted 12 takedowns against Colorado State. It also marked the fifth double-digit tackle performance by a BYU player this season. Aaron Francisco leads the team with a pair of 11-tackle performances (vs. Air Force and Stanford).
- With the victory, the Cougars improved to 9-2 all time against UNLV and have now won seven of the past eight meetings. The win also marked the Cougars fifth straight win over UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium. Since the two teams first meeting in Las Vegas, BYU has posted a perfect 5-0 record against the Rebels in their own stadium.
-With the win, BYU head coach Gary Crowton improved to 2-1 all-time against the Rebels while UNLV coach John Robinson fell to 1-4 against the Cougars.
- Entering the game, UNLV averaged 327.3 yards per game. The BYU defense held the Rebels to 271 total yards -- 56.3 yards below their average. The game marked the seventh game of the season that the BYU defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher. The Cougars have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in five straight games.
COOPER LEADS MWC
Redshirt Freshman Brett Cooper leads the Mountain West Conference in kick returns and ranks seventh nationally with an average 28.5 yards per kick return. In his first game as a kick returner (vs. against San Diego State) Cooper returned four kicks for 154 yards, including a season high return of 49 yards.
WHAT A PAYNE
Junior punter/kicker Matt Payne leads the Mountain West in punting and ranks 9th nationally with an average 45.2 yards per punt. He is also second in the league after connecting on 14-of-17 (.824) field goals, including a long of 53 yards--the second longest field goal in BYU history behind a 56-yarder by Owen Pochman. Payne also leads the Mountain West with a perfect 18-for-18 mark in point-after attempts. Sixteen of Payne's 58 punts have landed inside the 20-yard line. Against UNLV, Payne nailed 40- and 50-yard field goals and had five punts for 258 yards, averaging a career-high 51.6 yards per punt.
A BRATH OF FRESH AIR
After running back Marcus Whalen went down with a foot injury in the Cougars' season-opener against Georgia Tech, junior running back Reynaldo Brathwaite burst on to the scene and hasn't looked back. Brathwaite leads the Cougars with 735 yards rushing on the season, ranking fifth overall in the Mountain West. Brathwaite, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior has 131 carries on the season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He has posted a BYU record 95-yard touchdown run (at San Diego State), in addition to an 89-yard run in the Cougars' 10-7 win at New Mexico.
SCORING DRIVE INFORMATION
On the season the Cougars have allowed 33 scoring drives, including 13 drives of 38 yards or less. The longest drive for an opponent this season has been an 83 yarder (at San Diego State), while the shortest was an 11-yard drive posted by USC. BYU opponents average scoring drive covers 49.5 yards. Offensively, BYU has had 30 scoring drives, averaging just over 55.3 yards per drive. The Cougars' longest drive was a 95-yarder against San Diego State, while the shortest was a 7-yard drive at UNLV. Nine of the Cougars' 30 scoring drives have been 78 yards or longer.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
Against San Diego State, BYU recorded six sacks, improving its season total to 17. Against Colorado State and Wyoming the Cougars sacked the opposing quarterback three times each contest. Last week against UNLV, the Cougar defense sacked Rebel quarterback Kurt Nantkes one time to improve its total to 23 sacks. In the season's first five games the Cougars had recorded 11 sacks, averaging 2.2 sacks per contest. Colby Bockwoldt leads the team with 4.5 sacks, followed by Brady Poppinga with four and John Denney with 3.5. BYU has seven players with at least two sacks on the season.
The Cougar defense, which ranks 17th nationally and yields 302.5 yards per game, will face a Boise State offense that is third in the nation in total offense with an average of 518 yards per game. Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie is ninth in the nation in pass efficiency with a rating of 161.1 and has thrown for 2,609 yards 18 touchdowns and one interceptions. BYU's defense ranks first in the MWC and is tied for 21st nationally with eleven interceptions. Jernaro Gilford and John Denney lead the Cougars in interceptions with two a piece. Eight Cougars have at least one interception. Last week against UNLV, Aaron Francisco grabbed his first interception of the year to seal the Cougars' victory in overtime. The Cougar defense ranks second in the MWC in rush defense and second in pass defense.The BYU defense has scored one touchdown on the season. Interestingly, that touchdown came against San Diego State, marking the third straight game at Qualcomm Stadium the Cougars have scored a defensive touchdown ('99, Hans Olson; '01, Isaac Kelley; '03, Colby Bockwoldt.). On the season, the BYU defense has prevented its opponents from gaining its season average in seven of the eight nine.
IN THE RED ZONE
On the season, the Cougars have scored 19 of 23 times it has entered the Red Zone. In the season-opener against Georgia Tech, BYU scored on 3-of-4 trips inside Georgia Tech's 20-yard line, including two touchdowns and a field goal. Defensively, the Cougars gave up two field goals, and forced a fumble inside the Red Zone. In one of the best red zone defensive series of the night, Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the Cougars' four-yard line. Linebacker Mike Tanner and Cougarback Aaron Francisco stopped P.J. Daniels for a one-yard to bring up second and goal from the three-yard line. After a delay of game penalty, Tech quarterback Reggie Ball threw the ball away as the Cougars applied exceptional defensive coverage. Facing third and goal from the eight-yard line, defensive end John Denney swatted Ball's pass attempt to force fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The Yellow Jackets managed a a 26-yard field goal after having the ball inside the four-yard line. Against fourth-ranked USC, the Cougars scored on three-of-three attempts inside the Red Zone, including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Daniel Coats. Following is a game-by-game look at both the Cougars' Red Zone offense and Red Zone defense on the season. At UNLV, the Cougars entered the Red Zone four times and scored three touchdowns and one field goal, including the game winning touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Toby Christensen in overtime.