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BYU's Saturday opponent could not be more vulnerable. The UNLV Rebels have dropped back to back games; an upset at Wyoming followed by a defensive no-show at Nevada, so now the Rebels are 2-3 and poised for their annual October swoon (UNLV's October record under Sanford: 1-15; just for fun: BYU's October record is 12-3 under Bronco Mendenhall).
Then, there's the obvious distraction surrounding the status of UNLV head coach Mike Sanford, who will certainly be the coach on Saturday, but may not be on Sunday--not if the Cougars really get after the Rebels this weekend.
Sanford's hot seat is is extremely toasty today, with the most telling comment from the above linked article being this, from UNLV President Neal Smatresk:
"The (Nevada) game was very disappointing," Smatresk said. "We are concerned for our student-athletes, we are concerned for our fans, and we'll be keeping an eye on the situation on a game-to-game basis to see how things go. We're going to be watching."
So, BYU could indeed represent the final nail in Sanford's coffin, if the Cougars run the Rebels out of the building on Saturday--and after what we witnessed last weekend in Reno, there's no reason BYU shouldn't drill UNLV in the Cougars' "home away from home."
And, there would be irony if Bronco Mendenhall is indirectly responsible for ending the Sanford era in Las Vegas. As I recall, if Mendenhall had not gotten the BYU head coaching job in 2005, he had a pending offer to join Sanford's staff as UNLV's defensive coordinator. It's tough to imagine Bronco thriving amidst the annual mess in Las Vegas; then again, if Bronco had gone to and remained in Vegas, its unlikely they would be in this mess in the first place.
Correction: I stated in a posting yesterday that Boise State played at Tulsa this week; the game is actually next Wednesday, October 14th.
Every once in a while, it does good to step back and realize how good BYU Football fans have it, and the Cougars' current stretch of back-to-back-to-back opponents' offers a stark reminder of that notion.
30 winning seasons (last in 2008)
14 ten-plus win seasons (last in 2008)
22 conference championships (18 WAC, 4 MWC; last title in 2007)
27 bowl appearances (last in 2008)
9 winning seasons (last in 1996)
0 ten-plus win seasons
5 conference championships (all in the now-defunct PCAA/Big West Conference; last title in 1997)
2 bowl appearances (last in 1997)
UNLV (since joining Division 1 in 1978)
9 winning seasons (last in 2000)
1 ten-plus win season (last in 1984; conference later forfeited wins but wins were recognized by NCAA)
2 conference championships (both in now-defunct PCAA/Big West Conference; last title in 1994)
3 bowl appearances (last in 2000)
San Diego State
16 winning seasons (last in 1998)
3 ten-plus win seasons (last in 1977 as Independent)
5 conference championships (4 PCAA/Big West, 1 WAC; last title in 1986)
3 bowl appearances (last in 1998)
I realize that the standards and expectations at BYU are such that the school is not comparing itself to the above institutions, but those schools have invested fans, and determined booster groups, and professional coaches and scholarship players, and they try to win, too--they just haven't done it with any consistency whatsoever.
For BYU to regularly have won as many games and championships as it has throughout the last 37 years deserves more than modest acknowledgment; it merits a commensurate level of admiration.
An FYI reminder...
BYU's 2010 Football Schedule:
Home: Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming
Road: Florida State, Utah State, Air Force, CSU, TCU, Utah
Speaking of schedules...this came out of BYU this afternoon:
PROVO, Utah (Oct. 6, 2009) - Brigham Young University Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe announced today that the University of Washington has exercised an option to opt out of football games with the Cougars in 2011 and 2012. The canceled contract does not affect the 2010 matchup to be played in Provo.
The two schools were originally scheduled to play in Seattle in 2011 and at BYU in 2012. Next season, Washington will travel to Provo for a return game from the contest played in Husky Stadium on Sept. 6, 2008. The Cougars have a 3-4 record in previous meetings versus Washington, including a 28-27 victory in 2008.
"We look forward to playing the University of Washington next season at LaVell Edwards Stadium," said Holmoe. "Scheduling changes are part of the current college football landscape. We will move forward and continue working on our future football schedules."
Versus Tulane, Harvey Unga had a five-yard reception--extending to 27 his "consecutive games with a catch" streak. He has since gone three straight games without a single reception. As a freshman, Unga had 44 catches, then 42 as a sophomore. He is on pace for 3 receptions this season.