Anonymous | Posted: 18 Nov 2002 | Updated: 28 Apr 2011

Week 12: Victory Needed in Final Regular-Season Game


After losing at home to New Mexico for the first time in 30 years, the Cougars will need a victory over Utah in the regular-season finale in order to keep their bowl hopes alive. While the Utes have been eliminated from post-season consideration with an overall 4-6 record, BYU is just one win away from reaching the necessary 6 wins in order to qualify for post-season bowl consideration. The Utes enter Saturday's game riding a two game win streak, while the Cougars, after winning two straight, lost on Saturday against New Mexico. This year's "Holy War" -- the 78th meeting since 1922 -- will kickoff at 1 p.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,634). The game will be produced by ESPN+Plus and will be broadcast locally on KJZZ-TV, Ch. 14.


Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a regional television audience on ESPN+Plus. Locally, KJZZ-TV, Ch. 14 will carry the game. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. (MT). Gary Bender will call the action, with former Washington defensive back, J.C. Pearson, lending expert analysis. Beth Mowins will be reporting from the sidelines. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with Greg Wrubell calling the action and Marc Lyons lending color commentary. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines.


First instituted in 1971, the Beehive Boot is the symbol of gridiron supremacy in the state of Utah. Estimated to be over 100 years old, the Beehive Boot is an authentic piece of Utah history. Unlike other rivalry trophies across the country, the Beehive Boot is presented to the team with the best record against in-state opponents. After Utah State held the boot for a couple years, BYU began a dominating run, claiming the boot 19 times in the past 27 years, including a stretch of five straight years from 1983 to 1987. Utah and Utah State are tied for second, having won the boot six times each. The Boot currently resides at BYU where the Cougars are looking to add to the two-year stretch it has resided in Provo. With both teams recording victories over Utah State earlier in the season, the Cougars and Utes will battle on Saturday for the coveted Beehive Boot.


Saturday's in-state battle between Utah and BYU will mark the 78th meeting between the two schools, dating back to 1922. Utah owns a 45-28-4 lead in the 77-year rivalry. Prior to 1922, Utah and then B.Y. Academy met six times, posting an identical 3-3 record. (The two teams met three times in 1896, twice in 1897 and once in 1898 before the Academy disbanded its football team.) Utah also owns a 14-30-3 record against BYU in Salt Lake City. However, the Cougars have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in Salt Lake City, including three straight dating back to 1996. Prior to BYU's 24-21 victory in Provo last season, the visiting team had won six straight games. Since 1980, the Cougars have posted a 9-2 record in Salt Lake City, including a mark of three straight wins over the Utes on their home field. In the past five seasons, no team has won by more than 7 points. Over that time span, the average margin of victory is just 4.2 points per game. Three of the past five games have been decided by three points or less. No team has won more than nine straight games. Utah reeled off nine straight wins from 1929 to 1937, and while it took some 50 years, BYU managed to win nine straight from 1979 to 1987. BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 1-0 against Utah, while Ute head coach Ron McBride has posted a 5-7 record against the Cougars. No other Ute coach has won more games against BYU since Ray Nagel won 6 games from 1958-1965. In fact, only three other coaches in Utah football history have won more than five games against BYU.


A little known fact ... both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University were originally founded by Utah's first governor -- Brigham Young. Although, when first established in 1850, the University of Utah was originally called the University of Deseret; and Brigham Young University, founded 25 years later in 1875, was originally called the Brigham Young Academy. It wasn't until later that both Deseret University and B.Y. Academy were re-named to the now familiar University of Utah and Brigham Young University. The UofU did not begin playing football until 1892, playing just one game that season -- a 0-12 loss at Utah State. The Academy fielded teams in the late 1800s, playing Utah three times in 1896, twice in 1897 and once in 1898. For various reasons, including the death of a player, the Academy did not field a team again until 1922, then known as Brigham Young University.


Saturday's game will mark the fifth time BYU and Utah have met on Nov. 23, dating back to their first Nov. 23rd meeting during the 1974 season. The Cougars own a 4-0 record when playing on Nov. 23.


It wasn't until the 1969 season that BYU and Utah started playing each other at the end of the season, as opposed to earlier in the year. For many years, the Utah-Utah State game marked the end of the Ute's regular season. However, since 1969 the two teams have met 23 different times in the regular-season finale (for one or both teams). This year's game will mark the regular-season ending for both teams. The Cougars own an 18-6 record against Utah when playing in the final game of the regular season, including a stretch of 13 straight victories from 1974 to 1992. Since 1993 however, McBride and the Utes have posted a 5-3 mark against the Cougars when playing in the regular-season finale.


With less than four minutes left in the game, and trailing 21-10, BYU's hopes for a perfect season and an outright MWC title seemed dim. However, running back Luke Staley scored two touchdowns in just over two minutes to erase the deficit and give the Cougars the 24-21 victory -- BYU's second-straight come-from-behind victory over the Utes. The game was far from over after Staley's 30-yard touchdown run with just over a minute to play. Utah QB Lance Rice did his best Brandon Doman impression, leading Utah on a final drive in the last minute. Rice converted a key fourth-and-10 with a trick play, advancing the ball to the BYU 30-yard line. But on the very next play, Jernaro Gilford intercepted the ball and returned it 50 yards to seal the game. Reno Mahe was the unsung hero of last year's game. He led the Cougars with five receptions for 94 yards, none bigger than his 23-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to cut the Utah lead to 14-10. Only five days earlier, Mahe had been hospitalized while doctors performed an emergency appendectomy.


Despite a 20-16 loss against New Mexico on Saturday, the Cougars (5-6, 2-4) remain in contention for one of the Mountain West Conference's four post-season bowl opportunities. Two MWC teams have already achieved the required six wins to become bowl-eligible, including Colorado State (9-2, 5-0) and Air Force (8-3, 4-2). Two additional teams, including BYU and New Mexico are still alive, while UNLV (4-7, 2-4), San Diego State (3-8, 3-3), Utah (4-6, 2-4) and Wyoming (2-9, 1-5) have been eliminated from post-season bowl consideration. The Cougars have won five games on the season, and with just one game remaining, must defeat Utah on Saturday to qualify for bowl consideration. With its win in Provo on Saturday, New Mexico is also very much alive in the bowl hunt. The Lobos are 6-5 on the season, but with a 13-game schedule, they must win one of their final two games. New Mexico plays at Colorado State on Nov. 23 and will wrap-up the regular-season on Nov. 30 in Albuquerque against Wyoming. The winner of the Mountain West Conference will travel to Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 31 to take on the Conference USA champion in the Liberty Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl will have second choice among the league's bowl-eligible teams. The MWC selection will face the Pac-10's fifth selection. The game will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Christmas Day. The third MWC selection will travel to the first-ever San Francisco Bowl on Dec. 31. The Mountain West selection will face a Big East opponent at Pac Bell Park. Finally, a fourth MWC selection will travel to the second-annual Seattle Bowl, facing a sixth selection from the ACC. The game will be played at the new Seahawk Stadium on Dec. 30.


A win on Saturday would ensure the Cougars of their 29th straight non-losing regular-season, while a loss at Utah would mark the first losing season at BYU since the Cougars posted a 5-6 mark in 1973 -- LaVell Edwards second season at the helm. Following a 63-33 win over Air Force on Oct. 20, 2001, the Cougars claimed their 28th straight non-losing season. The Cougars' streak of 28 straight seasons ranks 11th all-time at the NCAA Division I-A level and is currently the third longest non-losing streak in the nation. (Nebraska ranks No. 1 with 40 straight seasons without a losing campaign.)


As in the 2000 season, the Cougars enter their final regular-season game at Utah with a 5-6 record. Like the 2000 season, BYU needs a win to preserve a non-losing campaign. Interestingly, like the 2000 season, BYU was 3-4 after seven games, 3-5 after eight games, and 4-5 after nine game in 2002. In another possible case of history repeating itself, BYU head coach Gary Crowton is on the brink of recording a losing campaign in his second season as the head coach. Interestingly, LaVell Edwards had a losing campaign at the end of his sophomore season as the head coach of the Cougars.


New Mexico kept its bowl hopes alive with a 20-16 victory over BYU on Saturday, marking the first Lobo victory in Provo since 1971. Credited with 13 of the Cougars' 16 points, the BYU defense had another strong outing. Jon Burbidge picked off his second pass of the year, returning it 80 yards for a touchdown. The defense also produced one sack, eight hurries, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, a touchdown, denied the Lobos a two-point conversion, and forced New Mexico to go three-and-out seven different times. On the other end of the ball, the Cougar offense struggled to get things going. The Cougars managed just 188 yards, including 94 yards rushing and 94 yards passing. BYU quarterback Matt Berry was an uncharacteristic 9-of-26 passing for 81 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Running back Marcus Whalen recorded 60 yards on the night on 17 carries, leaving him 79 yards short of the 1,000-yard mark for the season. BYU jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but this time it was the defense that provided much of the BYU momentum. With 7:12 left in the first quarter, Burbidge picked off New Mexico's quarterback Casey Kelly and returned the ball 80 yards to put BYU up 7-0. The Cougar offense capitalized on a Lobo fumble and scored with a 32-yard Matt Payne field goal with 00:15 left in the first quarter. The second quarter belonged to the Lobos as they outscored the Cougars 14-3 and to take the lead going into half time 14-13. An interception set up the Lobos' first score of the game, a one-yard run by Dontrell Moore to bring the Lobos within three after the extra point. With the clock winding down in the first half and the Cougars facing fourth and three, Payne faked a punt and took it 28 yards for the first down. Payne's run would set up the Cougars' lone score of the quarter, a career long field goal from 52 yards out that brought BYU within one at 14-13 to end the half. In the third quarter, Payne connected from 37 yards out on his third consecutive field goal of the night to give the Cougars back the lead at 16-14. After being held scoreless in the third quarter, the Lobos fired back in the fourth scoring on a two-yard run by Moore that put New Mexico up 20-16, and failing the two-point attempt, left the score at 20-16.


With Jon Burbidge's 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter against New Mexico, BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 349 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.


After losing four straight road games, dating back to the Cougars' loss at Hawaii last season, BYU defeated Utah State in Logan on Friday, Oct. 4 to record its first road win since upending Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., on Dec. 1, 2001. The Oct. 24 loss at Colorado State marked the Cougars' fourth road loss of the season, against only one victory -- a 35-34, come-from-behind thriller at Utah State. The Cougars are 8-6 overall on the road during the Gary Crowton era, and 4-2 against MWC opponents on the road. The CSU game marked the fifth road game over a six week span. When on the road, BYU has been outscored by an average 16.2 points per game. Saturday's game at Utah will mark the Cougars' first road trip since traveling to Fort Collins on Oct. 24. BYU is 1-4 on the road this season, including losses at Nevada, Georgia Tech, Air Force and Colorado State.


For the second time in the past three weeks, sophomore kicker/punter Matt Payne has been selected as the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week. Against the Lobos, Payne connected on a career-long 52-yard field goal to cut the New Mexico first-half lead to just 14-13. Payne set up his own field goal attempt with a 28-yard rush on a key fourth-down attempt. Facing a fourth-and-three, Payne tucked the fake-punt attempt and rambled for 28 yards to the New Mexico 36-yard line. Four plays later, Payne booted the career-long 52-yard field goal. On the night, Payne was three-for-three, connecting on field goals of 32, 52 and 37 yards. Payne was responsible for 10 of the Cougars' 16 points against New Mexico. In the punting department, Payne had 8 punts for a total of 355 yards, averaging 44.4 yards per punt. He had a long of 56 yards. Following the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Payne was named the MWC Special Team Player of the Week. He connected on four punts for a season-high average 58.0 yards per punt, including a career-high 76 yarder. That punt ranks fourth longest in BYU history. Payne also nailed two 47-yard field goals to help BYU to a 20-0 halftime lead. Admitting he likes to punt more than kick, Payne unloaded for a total of 402 yards on seven punts in the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Nevada. Against the Wolfpack, Payne averaged 57.4 yards per punt. During the game, Payne was credited with a 72 yard punt, surpassing his previous long by eight yards. At Utah State, Payne had three punts for 136 yards, averaging 45.3 yards per punt, including a 51 yarder. Against Air Force, Payne averaged 41.5 yards per punt. Against Wyoming, Payne had just one punt for 63 yards. Currently, Payne leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks second in the nation with a 47.6 per-game average. In the kicking department, Payne is 8-for-111 on field goal attempts. Until missing a 51-yard attempt against Wyoming, Payne had connected on 8 straight field goals, including back-to-back 47-yarders against SDSU. Payne is a perfect 7-for-7 from 0-39 yards and 3-for-5 from 40-49 yards. On PATs, Payne is 27-of-30 (.900) on the season.


Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Berry was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Cougars to a 35-31 victory over Wyoming on Nov. 9. The 6-foot-6, right-hander completed a career-high 31-of-45 (.689) attempts for 360 yards. Berry completed three touchdown passes against the Cowboys, including the game-winning toss to tight-end Spencer Nead. Trailing 31-28, Berry orchestrated a 12-play, 64-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to give BYU the go-ahead touchdown. Facing fourth-and-inches at the Wyoming 8-yard line, Berry drove through the middle on the quarterback-keeper to pick up the crucial first down. Two plays later, Berry found Reid in the endzone for the game-winning touchdown. Berry's 300-yard performance marked the Cougars' first 300-yard passing performance since Bret Engemann opened the season with 386 yards against Syracuse. Berry leads the BYU roster with 7 touchdown completions, and has thrown for 1,150 yards, averaging over 267 yards per game. Following his collegiate debut -- a respectable 6-of-8 performance for 95 yards against Air Force, BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced Berry would be the Cougars' starting quarterback against UNLV. The Redmond, Wash., native 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 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 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 Reid. Against New Mexico, Berry ran in to a stingy Lobo defense. Berry struggled to complete 9-of-26 attempts for just 81 yards. 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.


When the Cougars score 34 or more points, they have posted a perfect 5-0 record. BYU has registered wins over Syracuse (42-21), Hawaii (35-32), Utah State (35-34). San Diego State (34-10) and Wyoming (35-31). When BYU scores 28 or less points, the Cougars are 0-6.


BYU's opponents for the 2002 season had a combined 70-70 record in 2001. Four of those teams, including Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Colorado State and Utah, recorded bowl game victories last season. The Cougars open the season against two teams that posted a combined 19-6 record. In fact, three of BYU's first four opponents had eight or more wins during the 2001 campaign. Following the first 11 weeks of competition, BYU opponents have posted a combined record of 63-65 (.492) on the season.


In the season-opener (vs. Syracuse), Marcus Whalen's first career start, he turned in 140 yards on 19 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per touch. Whalen was credited with a career-high 58-yard run to the goal line, then bullied his way in to the endzone on the very next play for his first TD of the season. Against Hawaii, Whalen was credited with a career-high 30 carries, racking up 141 yards and two more touchdowns. In the third game of the season (at Nevada), Whalen turned in 135 yards on only 14 carries, averaging 9.6 yards per carry. During the first quarter, Whalen broke loose for what appeared to be a 92-yard touchdown run, but was returned to the 21 yardline after a illegal block was called on the Cougars. Whalen was officially credited with a career-long 71 yard run on the play. At Georgia Tech, Whalen played through the first quarter before being forced to sit the remainder of the game with a pulled abductor muscle. He did not play against Utah State while still recovering from the muscle injury. In his first game action since Sept. 21, Whalen carried the ball nine times for 41 yards against Air Force, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Against UNLV, Whalen was back to true form, carrying the ball 22 times for 105 yards -- his fourth 100-game of the season. At Colorado State, Whalen ran into a stingy CSU defense, but still managed 77 yards on 18 carries, including a 39-yard run that would eventually lead to a BYU touchdown. In the Cougars' 34-10 victory over San Diego State, Whalen totaled 75 yards on just 13 carries, averaging a bullish 5.8 yards per carry. Whalen did not have a single carry for negative yardage and scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter, marking his first touchdown since scoring on a 30-yard run at Nevada back on Sept. 14. Against Wyoming, Whalen racked up 124 yards on 26 carries, marking the most yards since posting 135 yards on 14 carries at Nevada. It was also the fifth time this season Whalen has produced 100-or-more yards rushing. Whalen also scored on a 6-yard run, tieing the game at 7-7. Whalen also had four receptions for 25 yards. Against New Mexico, Whalen had just 17 carries, running for 53 yards against the Lobos. On the season, Whalen ranks fourth in the MWC with a 90.4 yards-per-game average. Whalen is on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this season, needing just 96 more yards. With his 100-yard performance at Nevada, Whalen became the first running back in BYU history to start a season with three straight 100-yard outings.


Should Whalen eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, he would become the seventh different (eighth overall) BYU ball carrier to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. It would also mark only the second time in BYU football history that the Cougars have had two different ball carriers run for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.


For only the fifth time this season, the Cougars managed to keep their penalties in single digits. After being penalized five times last week, BYU had the hanky dropped six times against New Mexico. Entering Saturday's game, BYU had been penalized an average 8.5 times per game, averaging 67.0 yards per contest. Against the Lobos, BYU was penalized for 29 yards, marking only the third time this season BYU had less penalty yards than its opponent, while the San Diego State game marked the sixth time that the Cougars had been flagged 10 or more times. Against the Aztecs, the Cougars were flagged 11 times for 96 yards, while a week earlier, BYU was penalized just twice for 12 yards at Colorado State, marking the fewest penalties in a game this season. Prior to the Colorado State game, the Cougars' season-low was 3 penalties (at Air Force). In the first three games of the season, the Cougars were penalized a league-leading 37 times for 325 yards, including a season-high 13 times for 140 yards at Nevada. On the season, the Cougars rank fifth in the MWC, averaging 63.5 penalty yards per game. The Utes enter Saturday's contest ranked last in the league, averaging 69.5 penalty yards per game.


Entering the 2002 season, the Cougars had won 8 straight games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, dating back to Oct. 26, 2000 (vs. Wyoming). A season-opening victory against Syracuse, and a win over Hawaii a week later, extended that streak to 10 straight games, marking the longest home win streak for the Cougars since winning 17 straight from Oct. 7, 1989 to Nov. 23, 1991. A 24-3 loss against UNLV on Oct. 19 ended the Cougars' 10-game home winning streak. 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. 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 4-2 at Edwards Stadium, and has won 12 of its last 14 games at home.


Including a season-low one fourth-down attempt at Colorado State, BYU is 16-of-39 (.410) on fourth-down attempts this season. Against Wyoming, BYU converted a crucial fourth-down attempt late in the game, and two plays later, scored the game-winning touchdown. BYU recorded a season-high 4 fourth-down conversions at Utah State. Against Nevada, the Cougars were a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth-down attempts. In a 16-20 loss against New Mexico, BYU converted one of three fourth-down attempts, including a fourth-and-three from the Cougars' own 36 yard line. Punter Matt Payne kept the ball and ran up the middle for a 28-yard going. The successful conversion led to a 52-yard field goal. On the season, BYU is averaging 1.5 fourth-down conversions on 3.5 attempts per game.


Since the 1990 season, when BYU starts the season with a junior or senior quarterback, the Cougars have posted a 72.8 winning percentage. In that same time frame, when BYU starts the season with an under-classman, the Cougars win just 54.1 percent of their games. Since the 1990 campaign, BYU has only started an under classman in three different seasons, including 1992, 1993 and 2000.


Known over the past 20+ years for its All-American quarterbacks, BYU is quickly becoming known for its outstanding tight ends. Senior tight end Spencer Nead is making a solid case to join the ranks of BYU's long line of outstanding tight ends, including Gordon Hudson, Chad Lewis, Itula Mili and Doug Jolley. Nead started the 2002 campaign with a career-high 80-yard performance in the Cougars' 42-21 win over Syracuse. He was one of three different receivers with five receptions on the night. All totaled three different BYU tight ends, including Gabe Reid and Aisaac Aiono accounted for 133 yards on 11 receptions. Against Hawaii, Nead recorded three receptions for 41 yards, including a team-high 22-yard reception. After just one reception at Nevada for 12 yards, Nead returned to form at Georgia Tech, recording three receptions for 21 yards. He was the only tight end with a reception against the Yellow Jackets. Against Utah State, Nead played a major roll in the come-from-behind victory, recording a team-leading 6 receptions for 47 yards. A week later, Nead again led BYU with 5 receptions for 77 yards (at Air Force). Against UNLV, Nead had 2 receptions for 21 yards. At Colorado State, Nead had only one reception for 24 yards, setting up a Matt Payne field goal to pull BYU to within 7 points late in the second quarter. In the Cougars' 34-10 win over San Diego State, Nead was credited with 2 receptions for 10 yards. Against Wyoming, Nead registered a team-high 6 receptions for 72 yards, averaging 12 yards per reception. Nead also picked up his first touchdown of the season, grabbing a 15-yard pass from Matt Berry in the back of the endzone to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead. In the Cougars' 16-20 loss against New Mexico, Nead had three of the Cougars' 11 receptions, totaling 17 yards. On the season, Nead ranks second on the BYU roster with 37 receptions for 422 yards, averaging 38.4 yards per game. He is just one of three receivers with over 300 receiving yards on the season.


BYU tight ends have accounted for 638 yards receiving on the season, averaging over 58 yards per game. Tight ends Gabe Reid and Spencer Nead have recorded 6 of the Cougars' 16 touchdown receptions on the season. Nead ranks second on the BYU roster with 422 yards on 37 receptions, while Reid has recorded 17 receptions for 183 yards. Reid is averaging one touchdown catch every 3.4 receptions.

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