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BYU takes 16-game winning streak to TCU

BYU takes 16-game winning streak to TCU

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- BYU knows all about the tendency for long winning streaks to end at TCU's Amon Carter Stadium. The Cougars even contributed to that reputation.

In their last visit to Fort Worth, the Cougars stopped TCU's 13-game streak, the longest in major college football at the time.

Now, the ninth-ranked Cougars (6-0, 2-0 Mountain West) come back Thursday night with a 16-game winning streak that's best in the nation.

So can BYU escape unscathed three years after Utah, the original BCS buster, came to TCU and watched an 18-game winning streak disappear?

"We expect the same result as two years ago," said BYU linebacker David Nixon, a Texas native.

BYU has to if it wants to keep Bowl Championship Series dreams alive. Not to mention stay atop the Mountain West Conference.

TCU (6-1, 3-0), its BCS hopes dashed by a loss at No. 4 Oklahoma last month, has looked forward to playing the Cougars since January, when a BYU logo was placed on a blocking dummy in the team weight room.

"It's always a rivalry when you have a group sit at the top and no one has been able to knock them off. That's what we're trying to get to," Frogs coach Gary Patterson said. "We're growing up as a program. It's fun to play the Big 12 teams, but the bottom line to it is you've got to win your conference games."

BYU has won the last two Mountain West titles, and 18 consecutive conference games since that last trip to Fort Worth. Before that, TCU won the championship in its first MWC season.

"We know they are a tough team," said Cougars quarterback Max Hall, the nephew of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White. "You go into their place, in a hostile environment, to battle, scratch and claw."

While both teams score a lot of points -- BYU averages 38 a game, TCU 34 -- this game features two of the nation's best defenses.

TCU has the nation's top-ranked defense, allowing 207 yards per game. The Frogs allow only 11.4 points a game, bettered by the Cougars' 10.2, second-best nationally.

"It's got to be our execution versus their athleticism," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "They have great recovery speed. ... When you play a team that outmatches you physically, your identity and execution has to counteract their athleticism, so our execution is the answer."

That's the Cougars' quick precision passing game directed by Hall, who has completed 152 of 215 passes (71 percent) for 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. Receiver Austin Collie has four consecutive 100-yard receiving games.

"The good thing about us is that we're not the same every week," Hall said. "A lot of our offense is the same but we find different ways to do it and different ways to mix it up. There is still a lot of stuff that we have that we can still use."

Hall has been sacked only twice this season, mainly because he gets rid of the ball so quickly. But TCU's 27 sacks are five more than any other team in the nation.

Watching the film, Patterson said it's obvious Hall has confidence in what he's doing.

"He gets the ball out on time. I like to watch from the end zone view and you see a guy throw it and there's not a receiver in the screen and he's throwing right at (a) DB, and right at the last moment here comes a wide receiver into the screen," Patterson said. "They've always done a great job with it. They have great confidence in how they do things."

If BYU can win, the Mountain West will still have two undefeated teams. No. 14 Utah (7-0) hosts Colorado State on Saturday. The Cougars and Utes play in the regular season finale Nov. 22.

Of course, that game may not mean as much nationally if the Cougars can't buck the trend they helped establish in Fort Worth.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-10-15-08 1626MDT

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