GAME WEEK: Countdown to Northern Iowa

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Uncut video from today's press conference (21:45) Coming off their second consecutive Mountain West Conference Championship season with another 11-2 record in 2007, the Cougars are set to open the 2008 season on Saturday, Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa. BYU ended the 2007 season earning its third straight visit to the Las Vegas Bowl, defeating UCLA 17-16 after blocking the Bruins' potential game-winning field goal attempt as time expired. The Cougars enter the 2008 season currently owning the nation's longest active winning streak at 10 games. Saturday marks the first time BYU will face Northern Iowa, who is ranked No. 4 in the preseason FCS Coaches' Poll.

Saturday's matchup will be the first ever between BYU and Northern Iowa. The game will mark only the fourth time BYU has played an opponent from Division I-AA or the NCAA Championship Subdivision. The Cougars have never lost to a Championship Subdivision opponent, including wins against Murray State in 1998, Eastern Illinois in 2005 and Eastern Washington in 2007. In those three games, the Cougars defeated their opponents by an average 43.3-8.7.

Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. The game will mark the first of 12 televised games during the 2008 season. Rich Cellini will call the action and Jon Berger will lend analysis. Sammy Linebaugh will report from the sideline. Cellini's broadcasting work includes college football play-by-play, coverage for CSTV, ABC Sports and Fox Sports Net. He has also called play-by-play for NFL Europe on Fox and covered the NFL on Fox as a sideline reporter. Berger entered broadcasting in 2003 as a co-host and analyst for the Big-12 Conference for Fox Sports' Nissan Football Saturday, Hardcore Football, The Big-12 Post Game Report, and the Southwest Sports Report. Berger is a 1992 graduate of the Ohio State University, where he was a special teams letterman. Linebaugh is a former news reporter for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City and has worked as a freelance reporter before joining The Mtn.

Ten of BYU's 12 games this season will be broadcasted to a national audience on The Mtn., VERSUS and CBS College Sports Network. The Cougars will have seven games televised on The Mtn., including the season opener against Northern Iowa and the season ender against in-state rival the University of Utah. Direct TV launched The Mtn. nationally on Aug. 27, 2008, giving fans from across the country ultimate access to Mountain West Conference sports. VERSUS will carry the UCLA and TCU games, and CBS-CS will televise the Cougars' trip to Air Force on Nov. 15. BYU's game at Washington will be shown regionally on FOX Sports.

Dating back to the Cougars' first season in 1922, BYU has posted a record of 30-11-1 when opening the season in Provo -- that's a winning percentage of 72.5 percent! Interestingly, BYU's longest home-opening win streat is 10 seasons, dating from 1930 through 1939. Overall BYU has won five of their last six home-openers.

The Cougars will be looking to start their season with a win for only the second consecutive season as BYU edged Arizona, 20-7, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2007. Since 1922, the Cougars have posted a 47-35-2 record in season-opening games.

Interestingly, Hall of Fame Coach LaVell Edwards opened the season in Provo only nine times during his 29-year career. From 1978 to 1995, BYU opened the season on the road in 16 of 18 seasons. He was 5-4 in season-openers at Cougar Stadium.

The Cougars' 17-10 victory over Utah on Nov. 24, 2007 extended BYU's home win streak to 12 games. The last time the Cougars won 12 consecutive home games was 16 season ago when the team won 17 in a row from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991.

BYU finished the 2007 season with a perfect 6-0 record at home, for the second consecutive year. The last time BYU had a perfect record at home for two straight seasons was in 1990-1991. Since the stadium was built in 1964, BYU has gone undefeated at home 14 times.

Heading into the 2008 season, BYU owns the longest active winning streak among Division-IA teams, having won 10 consecutive games. The top, current winning streaks in the NCAA are as follows:

Team Streak
BYU - 10
Georgia - 7
USC - 5

WASHINGTON - Next week the Cougars travel to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies. Coming off a 4-9 record in 2007, the Huskies return 15 starters, including junior quarterback Jake Locker. Locker rushed for 986 yards in 2007, setting a new school and Pac-10 record for rushing by a quarterback. BYU is 2-4 against Washington, winning the last meeting in 1999.

UCLA - Meeting for the third time since the beginning of the 2007 season, UCLA will visit Provo on Sept. 13. The Cougars recorded their second consecutive bowl victory after narrowly defeating the Bruins 17-16 at the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl. Coming off a 6-7 season, the meeting will mark a homecoming of sorts for UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who spent 27 years coaching at BYU.

UTAH STATE - BYU's final non-conference game will be against in-state rival Utah State on Oct. 3. The Cougars hold a 41-33-3 lead in the series, which dates back to 1922. BYU's 38-0 win against the Aggies in 2006 marked the Cougars first shutout win since 1999.

With a 17-16 victory over UCLA at the Las Vegas Bowl, the Cougars have won 21 of their last 23 games, dating back to the 2006 season. BYU is currently on a ten-game win streak that includes a 25-point win on the road at Wyoming, a win over TCU, a 19-pont victory over CSU, a 35-point victory over Eastern Washington, a 25-point win over Air Force, and road wins over New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State. BYU holds the nation's longest active win streak. Over the past 26 games, the Cougars have posted a record of 22-4.

In seasons following a BYU bowl victory, the Cougars have compiled a combined record of 77-23 (.758), averaging 9.6 wins per season. Of BYU's eight previous post-bowl victory teams, all but two teams have returned to a bowl game the following season.

For the first time since 1997, BYU will kick off the season ranked among the nation's top-25 programs in both the USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 17), and the Associated Press Top-25 (No. 16). This marks the Cougars' highest preseason ranking since picked No. 16 in 1990. BYU finished the 2007 season ranked as high as No. 14 with an 11-2 record, including a 17-16 victory over UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.

In 2007, the Cougars' 17-10 victory over Utah in front of a capacity crowd of 64,749 - the second largest crowd at Edwards Stadium since the seating reconfiguration in 2003 - marked the sixth consecutive sell-out at Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1991 season the Cougars have had six sell-outs during one season. A crowd of 64,525 attended the Cougars' season-opening victory over Arizona on September 1, while attendance for Saturday's game against Air Force was listed at 64,502. The attendance against EWU was listed at 64,522, while 64,411 attended the CSU game. Since 1999, the Cougars are 13-4 in games with a sell-out crowd.

The Cougars' victory over Utah on Nov. 24, 2007 ran BYU's consecutive home winning streak to 12 games, dating back to the 2006 season. Over that span, the Cougars have beaten their opponents by an average of 26.3 points per game and have allowed just 11.2 points per game. The Cougars have allowed seven points or less in six of the last 12 home games. In six home games in 2007, the Cougars outscored opponents by an average 17.3 points per game and allowed an average of just 11.3 points per game. BYU's current win streak is the longest since posting a 17-game home win streak from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991.

Over 350,000 (386,980) fans attended six different home games at Edwards Stadium during the 2007 season, averaging 64,497 fans per game. BYU finished ranked fourth overall in the west behind USC (87,476), UCLA (76,379) and Washington (67,732). BYU has annually been the top school in average attendance for teams from conferences that do not receive automatic BCS bowl bids. BYU has led the MWC in home attendance in all nine years of the league's existence. In fact, Edwards Stadium has been the site of the league's all-time top-10 crowds.

LaVell Edwards Stadium, with its 64,045-seat capacity, is home to BYU football. Originally Cougar Stadium, it was built in 1964 and seated 45,000. It was expanded in 1982 to seat 65,000 in permanent seats. Record: 190-61 (.757) Stadium Record (since 1982 expansion): 121-39 (.756) Stadium Record (since renaming in 2000): 30-13 (.698) Last Six Home Games: 6-0 (1.000) - 2007 Last 12 Home Games: 12-0 (1.000) - 2006-2007 Last 18 Home Games: 15-3 (.833) - 2005-2007 Last 24 Home Games: 18-6 (.750) - 2004-2007

Following the 2004 season, Bronco Mendenhall was one of 13 men who received their first head football coaching job at teh Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) level. Of those 13 coaches, Bronco Mendenhall has compiled the best overall record to date.

There are 45 members of the BYU football program currently serving two-year church missions in 13 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and the United States. Members of the BYU football program who are currently serving missions cover six of the globe's seven continents. Members of the BYU football program who are currently serving missions speak a total of nine different foreign languages, including Bulgarian, German, Japanese, Malagasy, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

Of the 105 players on the Fall Camp roster, 75 have served a church mission (71 percent). Current members of the BYU football team have served missions in a total of 14 different countries around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, Germany, Puerto Rico, United States and Uruguay. Current members of the BYU football team have served missions in 16 different states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. Current members of the BYU football team who have previously served church missions speak a total of nine different foreign languages, including Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Samoan and Spanish.

The Church's missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics. "Mormon" missionaries can be seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities in the world as well as in thousands of smaller communities. More than 50,000 missionaries are serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at any one time. Most are young people under the age of 25, serving in nearly 350 missions throughout the world. Missionaries can be single men between the ages of 19 and 25, single women over the age of 21 or retired couples. Missionaries receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent only to countries where governments allow the Church to operate. Missionaries do not request their area of assignment and do not know beforehand whether they will be required to learn a language. Prior to going to their assigned area, missionaries spend a short period of time at one of 17 missionary training centers throughout the world. There they learn how to teach the gospel in an orderly and clear way and, if necessary, they begin to learn the language of the people they will be teaching. The largest training center is in Provo, Utah, with additional centers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Spain and South Korea. A typical missionary day begins by waking at 6:30 a.m. for personal study. The day is spent proselytizing by following up on appointments, visiting homes or meeting people in the street or other public places. Missionaries end their day by 10:30 p.m. In some parts of the world, missionaries are sent only to serve humanitarian or other specialized missions. Those missionaries do not proselytize. Missionary work is voluntary. Missionaries fund their own missions — except for their transportation to and from their field of labor — and are not paid for their services. Contacts with family and friends during this time of service are limited to letters and occasional phone calls to family at special times. Missionaries avoid entertainment, parties or other activities common to this age-group as long as they are on their missions, so they can focus entirely on the work of serving and of teaching others the gospel of Jesus Christ.

BYU's starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 326.4 pounds and average 6-feet-6. The front five will be going up against a Northern Iowa defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-4, 272 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars' front three average 6-feet-3, 278 pounds, while the Northern Iowa offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-4, 301 pounds per man.

With a 35-16 win over Colorado State on Nov. 3, 2007, the Cougars picked up their sixth win of the season, qualifying for their third straight bowl game. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall became the first coach in BYU history to qualify for three straight bowl games in his first three years Mendenhall currently ranks second behind LaVell Edwards with the most post-season appearances in BYU football history.

Sophomore quarterback Max Hall made his collegiate debut in 2007, throwing for 3,848 yards and 26 touchdowns. Hall became the Mountain West Conference's all-time leading sophomore quarterback and led the conference with an average 296.0 yards per game. He ranks fourth in BYU history behind Ty Detmer, Steve Sarkisian and Robbie Bosco through their first 13 career starts. Hall became the first BYU quarterback since Ty Detmer started his first game in 1988, to lead the Cougars to a bowl game in his first season.

Seniors Travis Bright and David Nixon, along with juniors Max Hall and Jan Jorgensen have been selected by their teammates to serve as captains for the 2008 football season.

Collectively the captains have 103 games of experience, with all four starting each game last season. Hall ended the 2007 season as the nation's top sophomore quarterback, passing for 3,848 yards. Bright, an offensive lineman, was part of an offensive unit that led the MWC and ranked 14th nationally in passing offense, averaging 298.4 yards per game. Over the course of the 2007 season, defensive lineman Jorgensen recorded 14 sacks for a combined loss of 115 yards, producing at least one sack in seven straight games. At linebacker, Nixon was credited with a career-high 66 tackles on the season, including a career-best 38 solo tackles.

Their accomplishments extend off the field as well, with each player earning 2007 Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors.

With 38 consecutive starts, senior offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds is currently tied at second for the most consecutive starts by an active Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) player. Reynolds has started in every game of his BYU career, beginning with the Cougars' 20-3 loss to Boston College on Sep. 3, 2005.

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 27-4 when leading at halftime and 26-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

The Cougars held a 17-13 lead at halftime against UCLA at the Las Vegas Bowl, marking the 12th time in 13 games this season BYU has held the lead at intermission. The Cougars have held their opponent to seven or fewer points in the opening half seven times in 13 games. BYU has led at halftime in 25 of the last 26 games. During those 25 games, the team is 22-3.

The Cougars currently have the 10th longest streak in the nation of consecutive games without returning a kickoff for a touchdown. BYU has been unable to accomplish the feat in 118 straight games. Mike Rigell is the last Cougar to return a kickoff for a touchdown. Rigell turned in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.

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