BYU - San Diego St. Preview

BYU - San Diego St. Preview



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By JEFF MEZYDLO
Associated Press Sports

BYU has clinched its second straight Mountain West title and can't climb into the BCS bowl picture, but still has something to play for in its final regular season game.

The 21st-ranked Cougars look to become the first school in conference history to finish undefeated in the league for two straight seasons when they visit San Diego State on Saturday.

BYU (9-2, 7-0) secured the title with a 17-10 comeback win over Utah at home last Saturday for its eighth straight victory since losing two in a row at UCLA and Tulsa in September. The Cougars went 8-0 in the league last season to win their first title since going 7-0 in the Mountain West in 2001.

The Cougars now look to extend their record conference winning streak to 16 games when they face San Diego State (4-7, 3-4) in a game originally scheduled for Oct. 27, but was postponed due to the wildfires that ravaged southern California.

BYU, 19th in the BCS standings, has not lost a conference game since falling 41-34 to Utah on Nov. 19, 2005. A BYU victory Saturday also would mark the fourth straight season the conference champion posted an unbeaten record in league play. Prior to the Cougars in 2006, Utah went 7-0 in 2004 and TCU was 8-0 in 2005.

Last Saturday, the Cougars won on freshman running back Harvey Unga's 11-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining. That was set up by sophomore Max Hall's 49-yard completion to Austin Collie on fourth-and-18 from BYU's own 12-yard line with 1:05 to play.

"I think our program is maturing, and there is less uncertainty as these situations come up," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told the school's official Web site. "There wasn't any panic; there wasn't any loss of composure. There was simply diligence about our execution."

Hall, whose 3,390 passing yards are the most by any sophomore in conference history, is expected to be ready Saturday despite playing with a sprained shoulder against Utah. Hall was 17-for-40 for 269 yards with an interception and failed to throw a touchdown pass in a game of the first time.

Hall, though, overcame the pain to complete one of the most important passes of his brief career when he connected with Collie late in the game.

"We call it 'magic happens,'" said Hall, who had thrown for seven TDs over his previous three games and more than 300 yards in each. "Certain things happen to allow you to win games and I think that was definitely a magic play."

Unga rushed for 141 yards on 23 carries last weekend, giving him 1,050 yards on the season.

The Cougars beat San Diego State 47-17 last season for their fifth win in the last six meetings, but they lost 31-10 in 2005 in their last road game in the series.

The Aztecs look to avoid closing the season with a third straight defeat after a 45-33 home loss to TCU last Saturday.

San Diego State, which allows a league-worst 494.5 yards and 33.2 points per game, has given up 1,364 yards and 100 points in its last two losses. BYU averages a conference-best 29.6 points.

"We still have a chance to leave our mark at home against BYU," SDSU safety Corey Boudreaux said. "We're not going to give up fighting right now. We've been fighting for 11 weeks and there is no reason to give up right now."

Aztecs senior Kevin O'Connell was 26-for-51 for 366 yards and two touchdowns versus TCU. He was 21-for-31 for 243 yards and ran for a TD in the Aztecs' victory over BYU in 2005.

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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