Game Notes: Heading to the Superdome
Playing in its second NFL stadium in as many weeks, No. 9 BYU travels to New Orleans to face Tulane in the Superdome on Sept. 12. After an upset win over No. 3 Oklahoma last week, possibly one of the program’s biggest wins in over 15 years, the Cougars are 1-0 heading into this game with the Green Wave.
Tulane enters Saturday’s game 0-1, after suffering a 37-13 loss in its season opener against Tulsa on Friday, Sept. 4.
ON THE TUBE
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on ESPN2. Terry Gannon will provide play-by-play coverage, with David Norrie giving analysis. The game will mark the second of 12 BYU games available nationally during the 2009 season. Last week’s game against No. 3 Oklahoma was shown on ESPN.
AGAINST CONFERENCE USA
The Cougars have a 38-13-1 overall record against current Conference USA opponents. BYU has faced seven of the 12 teams in the conference, including Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP. The Cougars have a winning record against Tulsa (6-1) and UTEP (28-7-1).
The last C-USA vs. BYU matchup was on Sept. 15, 2007 when the Cougars were defeated, 55-47, at Tulsa.
The Cougars’ first game against a current C-USA opponent was on Nov. 22, 1946 when they handed UTEP a 14-13 loss.
WHAT THE GAME MEANS
- With a win on Saturday the Cougars would start the season with a 2-0 record for the second straight year. In 2008 BYU opened with wins against Northern Iowa and Washington.
- A win at the Superdome would not only mean a 2-0 start to the season, but also a 2-0 start on back-to-back road games. The last time the Cougars started the season with two road wins was back in 1994 when they claimed victories at Hawaii and Air Force.
THE BYU-TULANE SERIES
The series between the Cougars and Green Wave is tied 1-1 after a Tulane win at the 1998 Liberty Bowl (41-27) and a BYU win on Aug. 25, 2001 (70-35).
LAST TIME: BYU 70, TULANE 35 (AUG. 25, 2001)
In a shootout normally reserved only for the Wild West, BYU defeated Tulane 70-35. The 70 points was the most for the Cougars since the 70-31 victory against Utah in 1989. The record-setting game started off with a bang, before some of the 49,008 fans had the chance to sit down. Tulane jumped on top just over a minute into the game with a 75-yard touchdown run from Mewelde Moore. The teams proceeded to trade touchdowns for the rest of the quarter, ending the first quarter tied at 21.
BYU opened up the second quarter scoring just four seconds into the period with an eight-yard pass to tight end Spencer Nead. The Cougars, armed with a 28-21 lead, never looked back. BYU scored 21 more points in the quarter, taking a 49-28 lead into the half. The 49 points tied a LaVell Edwards Stadium record for the most points in a half, set in the first half of the 1989 Utah game. The offensive output slowed down in the second half, but with 14 more points in the third quarter, BYU took a 63-35 lead into the final quarter.
Brandon Doman left the game after three quarters, finishing 25-31 for 286 yards, with three touchdowns. He also ran for 115 yards and one touchdown, earning him BCA Classic MVP honors. Both Luke Staley and Brian McDonald scored three rushing touchdowns for the Cougars. Spencer Nead, a transfer from Ricks College, caught two touchdown passes in the second quarter. Ten different receivers caught passes for a total of 297 yards, and eight different Cougars combined for 437 yards, short of BYU’s all-time record of 465 yards. The 734 total yards fell only 43 yards short of the BYU record.
TULANE’S LAST OUTING
NEW -- Sophomore quarterback Joe Kemp threw for a career-high 278 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start and junior wideout Casey Robottom snared a personal-best six passes, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped its season opener to Conference USA foe Tulsa, 37-13, Friday evening at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Golden Hurricane stormed out to a 17-0 lead over the first nine minutes of play and withstood the Green Wave offense’s best efforts to cruise to the 24-point victory. With the loss, Tulane (0-1, 0-1 C-USA) dropped its fifth straight game to Tulsa (1-0, 1-0 C-USA) dating back to 2005 when the Hurricane joined C-USA.
COUGAR-GREEN WAVE TIES
- BYU’s senior tight end Dennis Pitta and TU’s redshirt freshman defensive lineman Casey Blum both played high school football at Moorpark HS in Moorpark, Calif.
BYU’S LAST OUTING
ARLINGTON -- Led by a strong defensive effort and quarterback Max Hall’s 329 yards passing, No. 20 BYU defeated No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13 Saturday in the first college game played in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
A sellout crowd of 75,437 filled Cowboys Stadium and enjoyed not only the spectacle of the massive state-of-the-art stadium but also the excitement of two top-20 programs battling to the final minute on college football’s opening weekend. In the end, a strong overall team effort helped BYU come out on top as the Cougars earned their first victory over a top-3 ranked team since defeating No. 1 Miami on Sept. 8, 1990.
Hall completed 26-of-38 passes to total his 329 yards through the air while connecting on touchdowns to tight end Andrew George and wide receiver McKay Jacobson. A local product from Southlake, Texas, Jacobson had more than 100 family and friends watch him catch the final touchdown in the back of the end zone with just 3:03 remaining. The BYU defense stepped up as they had many times during the game to hold off the Sooners and force a failed 54-yard field goal attempt with 1:23 left on the clock.
COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM
With the win against Oklahoma, the Cougars are 149-44 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 18 of its last 21 games, dating back to 2006.
The Cougars’ No. 9 national ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings is their highest since earning the same ranking on Oct. 12, 2008 after defeating New Mexico. That same week BYU was ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
BYU won the toss before the start of the OU game, elected to defer and eventually went on to win the game. Last season the Cougars won the toss seven times, going 5-2 in those games.
PULLING OUT THE CLOSE ONES
After a close 14-13 victory over the Sooners last week, the Cougars have won nine consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer. Last season BYU pulled out nail-biters against Washington, UNLV and Colorado State.
MENDENHALL TEAMS DEFEATING RANKED FOES
Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is now 2-6 vs. ranked foes, with its wins a 31-17 victory over No. 15 TCU on Sept. 28, 2006 and a 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 5, 2009.
DON’T LOOK BACK
In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 33-4 when leading at halftime and 32-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
ENDING AN 18-YEAR DROUGHT
Before securing a 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 5, the last time BYU beat a nonconference team ranked in the Top 10 was its 28-21 win over No. 1 Miami on Sept. 8, 1990. The win over the Sooners gave the Cougars their first win over a ranked nonconference opponent since it defeated No. 14 Arizona State, 26-6, on Sept. 12, 1998. Since that day, BYU lost 12 consecutive games to ranked nonconference opponents. The last time BYU beat a ranked nonconference opponent on a neutral field was the Cotton Bowl game of Jan. 1, 1997, when BYU beat No. 14 Kansas State, 19-15.
Junior running back Harvey Unga needs only 37 more receiving yards to become one of only nine Cougars to record over 1,000 career yards through the air and on the ground. Unga currently has 964 yards receiving and 2,368 yards rushing.
Other Cougars who accomplished this feat are Curtis Brown, Jamal Willis, Lakei Heimuli, Luke Staley, Hema Heimuli, Todd Christensen, Scott Phillips and Fred Whittingham.
TALE OF THE TAPE
BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317.4 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against a Tulane defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 265 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars’ front three average 6-feet-3, 261.7 pounds, while the Tulane offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 297 pounds per man.
All-American tight end Dennis Pitta caught his first pass of the Oklahoma game with 3:51 remaining in the first half. He has now caught a pass in 31 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission. Pitta finished with a game-high 90 yards and seven catches.
In only his second career start, sophomore running back Bryan Kariya totaled 76 yards receiving on four catches and 42 yards rushing to lead the team. His receptions included a 49-yarder to set up the Cougars’ first score of the game.
The Oklahoma game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 40th straight career start. During that streak, Jorgensen has started every game of his collegiate career and set a new MWC all-time career sack record at 22.5. His first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.
HOLDING THE SOONERS
When facing an offense that averaged 51.1 points per game in 2008, the Cougar defense successfully held Oklahoma to 13 points. In the first half alone, BYU forced three-and-outs on four of OU’s six possessions.
Senior linebacker Shawn Doman recorded BYU’s first fumble recovery of the 2009 season after the Sooners lost possession on BYU’s 16-yard line with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter. Doman recovered two fumbles in 2008 against Colorado State and San Diego State.
Senior defensive lineman Brett Denney recovered a fumble of his own in the second quarter, to start what would become BYU’s first scoring drive of the game.
BYU’s game-winning drive against Oklahoma in the fourth quarter consisted of 16 plays for 78 yards and took eight-minutes and 38-seconds off the clock. That drive marked the longest (in time) by the Cougar offense since Oct. 13, 2007. Against UNLV, freshman Harvey Unga found the endzone on a 5-yard run to cap a drive that lasted 8:49.
HE WHO SCORES FIRST...
Oklahoma was the first to score last week on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Ryan Broyles. In 2008 BYU was the first team to score in eight of 13 games, marking 31 times in the last 39 games. The Cougars are 29-2 in those 31 games.
HELD SCORELSS IN THE FIRST QUARTER
The Sooners held BYU scoreless in the first quarter for the Cougars’ second consecutive game. Arizona also held BYU scoreless in the first 15 minutes of the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 20, 2008.
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
Senior linebacker Terrance Hook’s sack against Oklahoma’s Landry Jones marked the first of the season for BYU.Junior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s sack against CSU’s Billy Farris in 2008 gave him 21.5 career sacks, breaking the previous MWC record of 20.5 he shared with New Mexico’s Michael Tuohy, TCU’s Chase Ortiz and former Cougar Brady Poppinga. Jorgensen added a second sack and forced a fumble with just 22 seconds remaining to help secure the win and bring his career sack total to 22.5. He recorded four sacks his freshman season in 2006, 13.5 his sophomore season and five to date in 2008.