Cougars Host Eastern Washington in Non-conference Finale

Cougars Host Eastern Washington in Non-conference Finale



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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Brigham Young's quest for a second straight unbeaten run through the Mountain West Conference takes a break Saturday when the Cougars host Eastern Washington.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn't want the Cougars looking at it that way.

The Cougars (4-2) have won three straight and are off to a 3-0 start in the Mountain West, extending their winning streak in the league to 11 straight with a 24-14 win at UNLV last week.

BYU turned the ball over four times, including a career-high three interceptions thrown by Max Hall, and have 16 turnovers halfway through the season. BYU had 13 turnovers all of last year.

"We are not as clean as we need to be with ball security yet. That could be the biggest area of emphasis that is preventing us from being 6-0 at this point," Mendenhall said.

BYU hasn't played a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA, since 2005 and have never lost to a school from the lower tier. But that doesn't mean this is a gimme, said Mendenhall, who noted Appalachian State's upset at Michigan in the season opener.

The Eagles (4-2) are ranked No. 22 in the FCS and are 7-14 all-time against teams from the larger division. Eastern Washington is also 3-0 in the Big Sky Conference, where Mendenhall coached as an assistant at Northern Arizona early in his career.

"I don't regret nor do I apologize for that type of scheduling because our conference is so difficult," Mendenhall said.

The Eagles average almost five touchdowns per game and 486.7 yards of offense.

Since opening the season 3-0, Eastern Washington has lost two of three. One of those was a 24-23 heartbreaker two weeks ago against unbeaten Montana, which is ranked third in the subdivision.

Coach Paul Wulff doesn't want the Eagles to feel overwhelmed going against a school from a larger division and in a stadium where the home team hasn't lost since 2005.

"This is something new for us, but we are not going to change our approach to the game. We want to try to win, execute our game plan and play good football," Wulff said. "If we do that we'll give ourselves a chance to win, no question."

After Eastern Washington, BYU has five games remaining and all are in the Mountain West. The Cougars lead the league as the only team without an MWC loss and are in a position to win a second straight conference title by winning out.

But Mendenhall doesn't want his players to think about the conference until after Saturday afternoon's game.

"That has been a constant philosophy whether it is home or on the road and this is no different," Mendenhall said. "In this particular case we need to get better as a team and this is our next chance to do that."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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