Monday, October 13, 2008

BYU Football, take two.

BYU v. Wyoming
BYU extended its nation-best winning streak to 14 games after another shutout, this time against Wyoming. Quarterback Max Hall had another great game, completing 16-of-27 passes for 189 yards with no interceptions. Wide receiver Austin Collie caught two touchdown passes before halftime, and running back Harvey Unga ran one in the third quarter. Most of the first string sat out the fourth quarter and backup quarterback Brenden Gaskins was able to play the final 15 minutes, completing 3-of-7 passes for 7 yards. Wyoming had six turnovers, two of which were returned for Cougar touchdowns.
BYU has a bye next week, and will return to play Utah State in Logan on October 3.

BYU v. Utah State
BYU has received some excellent press coverage in the week surrounding the move into Top 10 position. An article on Yahoo! News featured many of the players and went into depth on Coach Mendenhall’s coaching style and focus of the team. Mendenhall was also quoted in an article about NCAAF upsets in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. While some critics maintain that BYU does not deserve the #8 spot in the AP Poll, the facts beg to differ. BYU has scored 172 points this season, and has had two back to back games in which they shut out their opponent. The Cougars boast the longest win streak in the country at 14 games. Max Hall has thrown only two interceptions this season, and has passed for more than 1200 yards.
BYU will take on the Utah State Aggies this Friday in Logan. Utah State is 1-3 this season, including a 58-10 loss to Utah on September 13.

Both Utah State and BYU are coming off of bye weeks, so the teams are rested and ready to play. The teams have been playing each other since 1922, and the rivalry between the schools used to be quite fierce. Coach Mendenhall has tried to resurrect that fading rivalry by adding USU to the Cougar schedule for the next few years. The last meeting between the teams in Logan was in 2002, in which the Cougars scraped by with a 35-34 win. In 2006, the Aggies came to Provo to be shut out by BYU 38-0.
Several Cougars were resting injuries during the bye week, including running back Harvey Unga, center Dallas Reynolds, defensive back G Pittman and receivers Spencer Hafoka and Michael Reed. However, all plan to play in Friday's game, except for Reed, who is recovering from meniscus surgery on his right knee.

While BYU is ranked 8 in the AP Poll, the game against Utah State showed a different side to this team. The Cougars dominated in the first half; BYU went into halftime leading 24-0 after a quick first-possession score and converting three turnovers into two touchdowns. However, in fourth quarter Utah State was able to get into the Cougars' heads. Utah State scored on the first drive of the quarter, and BYU lost 83 yards in penalties during that quarter alone. Quarterback Max Hall was sacked for first time this season, and while he did throw for 303 yards, he also threw two interceptions and received a personal foul in the fourth quarter. It was clear that he was frustrated with this game. Receiver Austin Collie summed it up best in his postgame interview when he said, "we just struggled to get things going on offense." However, it was enough to win 34-14, and BYU prepares for New Mexico in Provo on October 11.

BYU v. New Mexico

BYU dropped only one spot in the AP Poll after a less-than stellar game against Utah State on October 3. But the Cougars are excited to play in front of their home crowd, and prepare to take on New Mexico on Saturday. New Mexico is 3-3 this season, and is 1-1 in the MWC (beat Wyoming, lost to TCU), but Coach Mendenhall “does think adversity is coming” in the remainder of this season’s schedule. New Mexico has strong running backs who have accumulated 614 yards in the past two games. BYU injuries are low; wide receiver Michael Reed has recovered from surgery quickly and is expected to return for Saturday’s game.

New Mexico will take on the Cougars in BYU's home stadium in Provo today. BYU is ranked #9 in the AP Poll this week, and have been the subject of many sports blogs and editorials since the less than stellar performance against Utah State last week. In Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Mendenhall indicated that he is “far from content” with the team, considering the “potential and capability.” New Mexico has struggled with injuries this season, and BYU is the highest-ranked team that the Lobos have played against since upsetting Utah in 1994. Running back Michael Reed is supposed to return to today’s game, as well as defensive back Scott Johnson who rested a bruised thigh this week, and linebacker David Nixon (ankle sprain).

BYU welcomed New Mexico to Provo on Saturday, and the Lobos were ready for a tough game. BYU appeared to be shaken by New Mexico’s defense, particularly in the first half, which ended with BYU leading 7-3. "They had a good strategy to keep us off the field. We didn't have as many chances as we'd like," said running back Harvey Unga who ran for 95 yards. Quarterback Max Hall threw for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns, and wide receiver Austin Collie had 9 receptions for 162 yards. BYU extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 games with this win, and prepares for TCU on Thursday October 16.


  1. On Sunday night when I was watching the College Football whatever the show is called on ESPN, (yeah, I know) one of the dudes said that the Cougs deserve to be much higher - he classified them as an underrated team. He also called Max Hall Matt but you can't have everything.

  2. PS - Great writing, as usual!