Cougs' Prep For "Holy War"

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Looking to rebound from a 4-8 season, the Cougars will kickoff the 2004 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 4 against Notre Dame. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN, beginning at 7:15 p.m. The Fighting Irish own a 3-1 record in the series, dating back to the 1992 season. Notre Dame outlasted the Cougars last season in South bend, 33-13. This year's season-opener will mark only the second time the Irish have played in Provo. Notre Dame defeated BYU 45-20 in Provo during the 1993 season. The following season, the Cougars beat the Irish, 21-14, in South Bend. The Cougars will travel to South Bend next season to complete the two-for-one agreement.

Saturday's game will mark the fifth meeting between BYU and Notre Dame. The series began in 1992 when the Cougars traveled to South Bend to take on the Irish with Notre Dame pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 42-16 victory. The following year Notre Dame traveled to Provo. The Irish proved to be too strong on that day, racing out to a 31-0 lead before eventually winning 45-20. The Cougars ventured back to South Bend the following year and beat the Irish behind the running of Jamal Willis. Willis led the Cougars in rushing and receiving, scoring two touchdowns as BYU won 21-14. Last year the series was renewed, and the Irish, behind the running of Julius Jones, defeated the Cougars 33-14.

TELEVISION: Saturday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on ESPN. The game will be broadcast beginning at 7:15 MDT. Dave Barnett will be calling the action with Bill Curry and David Norrie offering expert analysis and Alex Flanagan reporting from the sideline. The game will be rebroadcast on KBYU-TV at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 6 and at 5 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. on BYU-TV also on Sept. 6.

RADIO: Fans can tune into KSL Radio--the 50,000-watt home of the Cougars--and follow the action with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley. The game will also be available on Westwood One with Tony Roberts handling the play-by-play and Allen Pinkett offering color commentary.

INTERNET: A live webcast of the game, which includes play-by-play and up-to-the-minute statistics , can be viewed by logging on to:

In addition to the webcast, a live audio stream will be available on the following URLs: and

During the Gary Crowton era, the Cougars are 3-0 in season opening games. In fact, BYU has outscored its opponents by an average 24.3 points per game since the 2001 season-opener against Tulane. During his first year, Crowton led BYU to a 70-35 victory over the Green Wave, followed by a 42-21 victory over Syracuse in the 2002 season-opener. Last year, the Cougars outdistanced Georgia Tech, 24-13, to claim their third straight season-opening victory under Crowton.

Saturday's game between Notre Dame and BYU will be a battle between two of the most recognized religious universities in the United States. BYU is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the team includes 63 members who have served full-time, two-year church missions. Notre Dame is affiliated with the Catholic church. BYU and Notre Dame are the two of only three current Division I-A schools affiliated with religious organizations to win the National Championship in football. BYU won its only national championship in 1984. Notre Dame has won 11 National Championships, most recently in 1988 after the Irish finished 12-0 and defeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, 34-21. The other team is Texas Christian University, who won the national championship in 1938.

Four members of the 2004 BYU football team--Aaron Francisco, Brady Poppinga, Daniel Coats and Matt Payne--have been selected to various "watch lists" for post-season awards.

Aaron Francisco, 6-2, 215, Safety: Aaron Francisco has been selected to the Thorpe Award "watch list," which honors the nation's top defensive back. Francisco is a three-year starter, who led BYU in tackles and interceptions as a junior and was second in tackles as a sophomore. Last year he earned first-team All-MWC honors and was an honorable mention selection as a sophomore.

Brady Poppinga, 6-3, 257, Defensive End/Linebacker: Brady Poppinga has been selected to the Bronko Nagurski Award "watch list." The award honors the nation's top defensive player. Poppinga earned first-team All-MWC honors last season after ranking among the league leaders in tackles with 55 for the season, including 34 solo take downs and a team-leading six sacks.

Daniel Coats, 6-3, 250, Tight End: Daniel Coats has been named to the John Mackey Award "watch list." The John Mackey Award is given annually to the nation's top tight end. Last season as a freshman, Coats recorded 30 receptions for 378 yards and four touchdowns, while earning freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News.

Matt Payne, 6-4, 234, Punter/Kicker: Matt Payne has been selected to the Lou Groza Award "watch list" and is expected to be named to the Ray Guy Award "watch list." The Groza Award is given annually to the nation's best place kicker, while the Ray Guy Award is gven to the nation's best punter. Payne is a three-year starter as both a punter and kicker. As a sophomore in 2002, Payne was second in the nation in punting with a 47.6 yard-per-punt average, earning an honorable mention All-America nod. Last year, Payne was selected to both the Lou Groza and Ray Guy "watch lists."

Throughout the 2004 season, the Cougars will wear an "A+" symbol on their helmets as a constant reminder of the team's quest for excellence in all areas, including sportsmanship. In addition, in an effort to remind all student athletes and fans, the "A+" symbol will be displayed prominently at all athletic venues. Specifically, the logo is to remind student athletes and fans to always be friendly, always be heard, always be considerate, always be safe and always be true blue.

BYU is starting the season in September for the first time since 1999. The last season opener the Cougars played in September was a 35-28 victory over the University of Washington. The game was decided in the final minutes when Chris Hale, playing in his first collegiate game, caught a 38-yard pass from Kevin Feterik. BYU would add a two-point conversion to put it up by seven points with 1:16 left in the game. The Huskies made it interesting, driving to the Cougar 11-yard line before the Cougar defense stiffened.

Written by BYU Athletic Media Relations

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