Game Week Has Arrived...



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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5 days 'til kickoff... and BYU prepares for its third season opener under Bronco Mendenhall. As well as things are going for Bronco and the BYU program... slow starts have been the hallmark for the Cougars.

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In 2005, BYU opened 1-3, with its only win over Championship Subdivision squad Eastern Illinois. The huge comeback win at New Mexico in game 5 (the "Fireside Game") turned the season around for BYU, and the Cougars finished 6-6. It was also in the New Mexico game that BYU decided it needed to commit to running the football to have success adapting its new offense from a "Texas Tech"-style of football to incorporate "BYU Balance."

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In 2006, BYU opened 1-2, and after a convincing win over Utah State, the Cougars went to TCU and recorded the "turning point" win of last season--setting the table for an unbeaten conference run.

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In Bronco's two season openers (both losses), BYU has rushed the ball for 8 yards, and 24 yards, respectively (a total of 32 yards on 40 carries, or a per carry average of 0.8--stat includes quarterback sacks). Bronco acknowledges the vital importance of rushing yards gained (and allowed), and has gone so far as to call BYU's ability to run the ball against Arizona a likely "storyline" for Saturday's game.

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You all know it's my pet stat, but after last season, BYU (since 1972) is now 232-38-1 when rushing for 100 yards or more in a game. In 2006, BYU was 9-1 when running for 100+ yards (loss was at Boston College), and has won 8 consecutive games when rushing for 100-plus.

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BYU is only 13-24 v. the Pac-10 since 1972, but a perfect 9-0 (!) against Pac-10 teams when rushing for 100+ yards. That makes the Cougars 4-24 when failing to crack the century mark on the ground v. Pac-10 squads, in the last 35 years. Storyline? I should say so.

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Trivia: Arizona Coach Mike Stoops has been on 3 coaching staffs to play BYU. He is 1-1-1 in those 3 games. You know he beat BYU last year as head coach at UA. Can you identify the other teams he coached for against BYU?

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Fast Facts:

-last year, BYU had 71% of its kickoffs either returned, or kicked out of bounds--with kickoffs from the 35-yard line. With kickoffs from the 30-yard line this season, watch that percentage number skyrocket.

-last season, BYU had 26 touchbacks, out of 89 kickoffs. I expect that touchback number to be in single digits this season. I can also see the "kickoffs out of bounds" number doubling (BYU had 4 last season), as kickers look to blast the ball, and "overkick" as a result.

-Arizona has selected five team captains for this season. By rule, only four are designated as field captains, and no more than four captains are allowed at the coin toss. I am fairly confident the Wildcats are aware of this. You gotta think they're aware of this, right?

-coming into this season, BYU has a streak of 13 consecutive games (every game last season) leading at halftime. The last game BYU trailed at the break was the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl v. Cal.

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Don't forget: the "Bronco Mendenhall Show" is live from Ken Garff Porsche/Audi/Volkswagen on University Parkway in Orem, Wednesday from 7:00-8:00pm. If you're in the neighborhood (or even if you're not), stop on by...

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Trivia Answer: Stoops was a Volunteer Assistant (LB/DB) on the Iowa team that tied BYU 13-13 in the 1991 Holiday Bowl, and Co-Defensive Coordinator on the Kansas State team that lost to BYU in the 1996 Cotton Bowl, 19-15.

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Actually, there are a handful of Arizona coaches with previous non-Arizona experience coaching against BYU--not to mention the obvious connections between Robert Anae and two new Wildcat coaches. More on that tomorrow...

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