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LOSING STREAK OVER; Y. GEARS UP FOR WYOMING
With a commanding 34-10 win over league-leading San Diego State last Saturday, BYU collected its first MWC victory after losing three straight. With the three-game losing streak behind them, and needing to win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible, the Cougars will play host to Wyoming (2-7, 1-3) on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cowboys will enter Saturday's game following a 49-48 overtime loss at UNLV. The game, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MT), will be broadcast locally on KSL-TV, Ch. 5 by SportsWest.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a local television audience on KSL-TV. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. (MT). Dave McCann will call the action, with former BYU quarterback, Blaine Fowler, lending expert analysis. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with Greg Wrubell calling the action and Marc Lyons lending expert analysis. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines.
Following Saturday's game against Wyoming, the Cougars will play host to New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 16 for the final home game of the season. Game time is slated for 4 p.m. (MT).
After facing two nationally-ranked opponents in the first five weeks of the season, Wyoming got off to a sluggish 0-5 start, including a 47-7 loss against No. 4 Tennessee and a 38-7 defeat at No. 13 Washington. In the meantime, the Cowboys picked up their first win of the season on Oct. 5, knocking off The Citadel in Laramie, 34-30. And, in one of the biggest upsets in league history, Wyoming grounded 19th ranked Air Force 34-26. On Saturday, dreams of a post-season bowl bid came to an end with a 49-48 overtime loss at UNLV. The Cowboys will enter Saturday's game tied with BYU for sixth place with an identical 1-3 MWC record. Interestingly, Wyoming has lost its three league games by a combined 13 points -- only a 4.3 points-per-contest deficit. Senior quarterback Casey Bramlet leads the UW offense, averaging 272.1 yards of total offense per game.
BYU vs. WYOMING
Saturday's game will mark the 68th meeting between BYU and one of its oldest rivals, Wyoming. The Cougars own a 36-28-3 record in the series, dating back to 1922. Since joining the MWC, BYU is 2-1 against the Cowboys, with the Cougars' only loss in MWC play coming during the 1999 season, ending a BYU 8-game win streak. BYU has posted a 22-13 record against the Cowboys when playing in Provo. The Cougars have won 8 of the last 10 meetings, including 8 of the past 9 games. BYU has won two straight games in the series, including a 41-34 victory in Laramie last season. The Cowboys have won only twice in Provo since 1972, including their last win in 1987 -- a 29-27 win at Cougar Stadium. BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 1-1 against the Cowboys, including last season's 41-34 victory in Laramie. UW head coach Vic Koening is 0-2 against BYU. Four of the previous 10 meetings have been settled by 7 points or less, including 3 games that were decided by just 3 points. Over the past 10 games, BYU has outscored the Cowboys by just 7.2 points per contest.
A LOOK BACK (BYU 41, UW 34)
BYU defeated Wyoming, 41-34, in Laramie, but it took some late heroics to preserve the Cougars' 10th straight victory of the season. Brandon Heaney picked the perfect time to make his first interception of his career. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, and Wyoming facing a 3rd-and-24, Heaney cut off a Casey Bramlet pass and made the play of the game. On BYU's ensuing possession, Luke Staley took the ball in for one of his four touchdowns with 2:08 remaining in the game to give BYU a 41-34 lead late in the game. The BYU defense would need to step up once again, as Wyoming drove the field with less than a minute remaining. Facing 4th-and-goal, safety Levi Madarieta batted down another Bramlet pass to seal the Cougars' victory. Senior quarterback Brandon Doman was 23-for-38 for 268 yards, while Staley had 31 carries for 172 yards.
STILL BOWL HOPING
Thanks in part to a 12-game schedule, the Cougars must win 6 games in order to qualify for a post-season bowl bid. Saturday's victory over San Diego State marked the Cougars' fourth win of the season. BYU needs to win two of its final three games in order to qualify for a post-season bowl bid. The Cougars must play Wyoming and New Mexico in Provo, and will travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in the season finale.
COUGARS ENDS THREE-GAME LOSING STREAK
Redshirt Freshman Matt Berry completed 19-of-31 attempts for 280 yards with three touchdown passes, and the BYU defense held the potent San Diego State offense to just 10 points en route to a 34-10 win over the Aztecs. The win marked the Cougars' first league victory of the season, ending a three-game losing streak. The BYU defense came up big against the Aztecs, who entered the game averaging 426 yards per game. The Cougars stuffed Air-Aztec, limiting their high-flying offense to just 246 total yards, including 228 yards passing and just 18 yards rushing. Sophomore defensive end Brady Poppinga led the team with three sacks, a hurry and a forced fumble. Middle linebacker Mike Tanner, who was making his first collegiate start, led the Cougars with 11 tackles, including 6 solo takedowns. Sophomore safety, Aaron Francisco, came up with the hit of the game. On a first-quarter, 3rd-and-12 opportunity, SDSU quarterback Adam Hall drew a beed on All-MWC receiver J.R. Tolver. His pass was incomplete as Francisco leveled Tolver. Tolver did not return until the second half. He was virtually ineffective for the remainder of the game, hauling in just 4 receptions for 30 yards -- over 100 yards under his average. Offensively, the Cougars used a balanced attack, throwing the ball 33 times for 289 yards, and running the ball 36 times for 114 yards. The BYU offense racked up 34 points, accounting for 12 more points than it had scored in the previous three ball games. Sophomore kicker/punter Matt Payne helped the BYU cause, averaging 58.0 yards per punt, including a career-high 76 yarder. Payne was also 2-for-2 in the field goal department, connecting on two different first-half 47-yard field goals. The Cougars got off to a 20-0 lead in the first half, marking the first halftime lead since owning a 21-14 advantage against Syracuse in the season-opener. It was also the largest lead over an opponent this season since the Cougars victory over the Orangemen. With a 24-point victory, the game marked BYU's largest win of the season, and the fourth highest scoring output of the year.
Matt Payne's 47-yard field goal in the first quarter marked the third time this season the Cougars have managed to score before their opponent, and their first, first-quarter score since posting a field goal at Air Force.
Freshman quarterback Matt Berry and junior wide receiver Jason Kukahiko teamed up for a 37- yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, marking the Cougars' first, first-quarter touchdown since scoring on a 6-yard pass in the first quarter against Syracuse.
The BYU offense posted 20 first-half points against San Diego State, marking the most points the Cougars have scored in the first half since chalking up 21 points in the season-opener against Syracuse.
Entering Saturday's game, the Cougars had been outscored 64-10 in the first quarter of play. Against San Diego State, the Cougars equaled their entire first-quarter scoring total, posting 10 points against the Aztecs.
Entering Saturday's game, the Cougars had managed only 22 points over the previous three games -- an average of 7.3 points per contest. Against San Diego State, the Cougars posted 34 points, 12 more points than they had scored in the previous three games.
Rodney Allen's blocked punt in the second quarter marked the first blocked punt BYU has allowed since giving up a blocked punt against Tulane in the 1998 Liberty Bowl.
With Gabe Reid's 27-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, the Cougars extended their lead over SDSU by 24 points, marking their largest lead over any opponent this season.
For the first time since the Cougars' season-opener against Syracuse, BYU managed to score in all four quarters of play against San Diego State.
The Aztec's 10 points on Saturday marked the fewest points BYU has allowed since giving up just 7 points to Nevada last season.
Saturday's victory over San Diego State prevented a four-game conference losing streak. (BYU has not lost four straight league games since 1968.) The Cougars' victory also prevented a second straight home loss. BYU has not lost back-to-back home games since 1993. With the win BYU has won 11 of its last 12 home games.
The BYU defense held San Diego State to just 246 yards of total offense -- 180 yards below the Aztec's season average. San Diego State managed just 49 yards of total offense in the first half.
Entering Saturday's game, San Diego State had allowed just 9 sacks. The Cougar defense was credited with five sacks against the Aztecs, including 3 from defensive end Brady Poppinga.
Marcus Whalen's first-quarter touchdown run was his first touchdown carry since Sept. 14 against Nevada. Reno Mahe scored his second touchdown of the season -- a 4-yard reception from Matt Berry. Cornerback Jernaro Gilford posted his first interception of the season -- the Cougars' first since the Utah State game.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 347 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Matt Payne's 47-yard field goal in the first quarter against San Diego State, BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 347 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars don't have a single person on their 2002 roster that was alive the last time BYU was shut out.
BERRY TAKING OVER BYU OFFENSE
Following his collegiate debut -- a respectable 6-of-8 performance for 95 yards against Air Force, BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced redshirt freshman Matt Berry would be the Cougars' starting quarterback against UNLV. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder became the first redshirt freshman to start at quarterback since Ty Detmer back in 1988. Berry is also the first starting quarterback to wear jersey No. 8 since Steve Young. In his first start since his senior season at Redmond (Wash.) High School, back in Nov., 1998, Berry completed 14-of-27 (.519) attempts for 186 yards against the Rebels. In his second start, against co-league leader Colorado State, Berry got off to a respectable pace, connecting on 7 of his first 7 attempts for 82 yards. He did not throw an incompletion until the 9:34 mark of the third quarter. In the second half, he was 10-of-19 for 66 yards, finishing the night with a 65.4 completion percentage. In the second quarter, Berry led the Cougars on an 84-yard drive, capped by a one-yard run -- his first career rushing touchdown. In his third career start, Berry led BYU to a commanding 34-10 victory over league co-leader San Diego State. He threw for a career-high 280 yards on 19-of-31 (.613) attempts and completed 3 touchdown completions, including a 37-yard strike to Jason Kukahiko in the first quarter, a 4-yard screen pass to Reno Mahe in the third quarter, and a 27-yard, game-clinching 27-yard completion to tight end Gabe Reid. On the season, Berry has passed for 709 yards on 56-of-95 (.609) attempts with 4 touchdown receptions. His efficiency (129.08) ranks second in the MWC. Berry gained valuable experience during the JV season, completing 12-of-23 attempts for 144 yards against top-ranked Dixie State College, including a touchdown pass to Kish Beverley. Against Snow College, Berry led the Cougar offense on an 80-yard drive, finishing with a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andy Hadfield.
HOME WIN STREAK ENDS -- A NEW ONE BEGINS
A 24-3 loss against UNLV on Oct. 19 ended the Cougars' 10-game home winning streak. That streak dated back to Oct. 26, 2000 (vs. Wyoming). Since Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 18, 2001, the Cougars had never lost a game in Provo, posting a 9-0 record before losing to the Rebels. The stretch marked the longest home win streak for the Cougars since winning 17 straight from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991. With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo last season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home seasons since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998. In 2002, BYU is 3-1 at Edwards Stadium, and has won 11 of its last 12 at home, including a 34-10 win over San Diego State on Saturday.