GAME NOTES: Cougars Return to Notre Dame
PROVO -- Following a much-needed week off, the Cougars will make a return visit to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since 1994. The Cougars will take on Notre Dame beginning at 2:46 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Nov. 15 in front of a national television audience on NBC (KSL, Ch. 5). The Cougars last took the field on Thursday, Oct. 30, falling to Boise State, 50-12, while the Irish are coming off a 27-20 win over Navy on Saturday. The Cougars will enter South Bend with a 4-6 overall record, while the Irish have posted a record of 3-6 on the season, including wins over Washington State (in overtime), Pittsburgh and Navy.
THE HISTORY: BYU vs. NOTRE DAME -- The Fourth Meeting
Saturday's game will mark the fourth meeting between the two schools, dating back to Oct. 24, 1992. The Irish hold a 2-1 lead in the series, including a 42-16 win at Notre Dame in 1992 and a 45-20 win in Provo during the 1993 season. The Cougars won the last meeting between the two teams, upending the Irish, 21-14, at Notre Dame Stadium during the 1994 season. In the previous three games, the Irish have averaged 33.6 points against the Cougars, while BYU has posted an average 16.7 points per contest. While the game will mark BYU head coach Gary Crowton's third time coaching against the Irish, it will be his first as a head coach. Crowton was an assistant on the 1993 Boston College team that upset top-ranked Notre Dame, 41-39, in South Bend.
SETTING THE GAME
KICKOFF: 2:46 p.m. (EST)
SITE: South Bend, Indiana; Notre Dame Stadium (80,795)
TELEVISION: NBC; (Tom Hammond and Pat Haden)
RADIO: KSL-Radio, 1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons, Bill Riley)
THE SERIES: Notre Dame leads, 2-1
LAST MEETING: Oct. 15, 1994 (BYU, 21-14)
COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS
TELEVISION - Saturday's game will be broadcast to a national audience on NBC (KSL-TV, Ch. 5 in Salt Lake City.) The game will be broadcast beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Tom Hammond will call the action with former NFL quarterback Pat Haden lending expert analysis.
RADIO - Fans can tune to 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.
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, a live audio stream of the game will be available at both of the following URL's:
From national publications to live television broadcasts, BYU football is one of the more visible programs in the country. Since its first national television appearance in 1974, BYU has posted a 52-36-2 record when playing nationally televised games, including a 24-16 mark on ABC and a 28-23-2 record on ESPN or ESPN2. Dating back to 1980, the Cougars have appeared on national television an average of three times per season. Since the 1980 season, BYU has played in at least one nationally-televised game per year. On Sept. 1, 1984, Robbie Bosco led BYU to a 20-14 victory over Pitt in the first live ESPN College football broadcast. Saturday's game will mark the fifth nationally televised games this season. (The Cougars' games at USC and UNLV were "split" nationally on ABC.) Saturday's game will mark the fifth appearance for the Cougars on NBC. BYU has posted a 2-2 record on NBC, including a mark of 1-1 against Notre Dame when playing on NBC.
- Saturday's game will mark the fifth meeting between the two schools.
- As the quarterback coach at Boston College, BYU head coach Gary Crowton helped engineer a 41-39 win over top-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend during the 1993 season.
- The Irish have posted a 2-3 record at home this season, while the Cougars are 3-2 when playing on the road. BYU last won on the road on Oct. 25 at UNLV in a come-from-behind, overtime thriller. The game will mark the final home contest for the Irish this season.
- Notre Dame has won nine of its last 10 final home games, while the Cougars, who are playing on the road for the final time this season, have won just five of their last 1 final road games.
- With a current record of 4-6, the Cougars need to win their final two games of the season in order to finish .500 on the season, and keep their bowl hopes alive.
- After finishing 5-7 last season, the Cougars are in danger of recording their second straight losing season, which would mark the first back-to-back losing campaigns since the 1970 and 1971 seasons.
- Should BYU fail to qualify for a bowl game, it will mark the first time since the 1972 and 1973 seasons the Cougars have not played in a bowl game in back-to-back years.
- Saturday's game will mark the first time BYU has played Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish have not been ranked. Notre Dame was ranked 10th in 1992, third in 1993 and 17th in 1994.
- If BYU wins Saturday's game at Notre Dame, it will become the first time a team from the Mountain West has defeated the Fighting Irish. (Air Force has previously defeated Notre Dame, but not as a member of the MWC.)
- Saturday's game will mark the first of three scheduled dates between the Cougars and Irish. The two teams will meet next season in Provo and again in South Bend during the 2005 season.
- Saturday's game will mark the third time this season the Cougars have entered a game with more wins than their opponents. In the previous two games, BYU is 1-1. The Cougars have played
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 360 GAMES AND COUNTING
Following a team safety -- as a result of a bad snap -- in the first quarter against Boise State, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 360 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their rosters who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
The Cougars' 44-36 win over San Diego State on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003 marked BYU's 450th all-time victory, dating back to the 1922 season. Over that 80-plus-year span, the Cougars have posted a mark of 450-348-26 (.562). The win also marked the 20th victory for head coach Gary Crowton since taking over the helm of the BYU program in 2001. In his third season at BYU, Crowton has racked up a record of 20-14 (.588). Over the span of his career, including three years as the head coach at Louisiana Tech Crowton is 41-27 (.603).
COUGARS EQUAL 35-YEAR OLD RECORD
With the Cougars 50-12 loss against Boise State on Thursday, Oct. 30, the Cougars have lost four straight games at home for the first time since 1968 -- a 35-year-old record. After opening the season with a 24-13 win over Georgia Tech at Edwards Stadium, the Cougars have dropped four straight home games, posting a 1-4 mark at LaVell Edwards Stadium on the season. The Cougars lost an 18-14 decision to Stanford on Sept. 20, followed by a 24-10 loss against Air Force on Sept. 27. Most recently, BYU lost to Colorado State, 58-13, on Oct. 9, marking the most points ever allowed and the largest losing margin ever recorded in Provo. The record was equaled over two weeks ago after a 50-12 loss on Oct. 30 -- the night before Halloween. In 1968, under head coach Tommy Hudspeth, the Cougars were 0-5 in Provo. Even if the Cougars defeat Utah at home in the season finale on Nov. 22, the Cougars will have suffered their first home losing season in 32 years.
IN THE TRENCHES
The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,600 pounds, averaging 320 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a Notre Dame defensive line (two seniors, a junior and a freshman) that tips the scales at an average 270.5 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (three seniors) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Irish offensive line (one senior, one juniors and two sophomores) average 296 pounds per man.
WHAT A PAYNE
Junior punter/kicker Matt Payne leads the Mountain West in punting and ranks 9th nationally with an average 44.9 yards per punt. He is also third in the league after connecting on 14-of-17 (.824) field goals, including a long of 53 yards--the second longest field goal in BYU history behind a 56-yarder by Owen Pochman. Payne also leads the Mountain West with a perfect 18-for-18 mark in point-after attempts. Eighteen of Payne's 65 punts have landed inside the 20-yard line. Against UNLV, Payne nailed 40- and 50-yard field goals and had five punts for 258 yards, averaging a career-high 51.6 yards per punt.
LAST TIME OUT (BSU 50, BYU 12)
Boise State jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and caused four Cougar turnovers, beating BYU, 50-12, Thursday, Oct. 30 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Broncos scored first on a blocked punt that safety Cam Hall recovered in the end zone. The Cougars would also throw four interceptions on the night -- one of which was returned for a touchdown. Boise State forced the Cougars into a three and out on its next possession and scored its second touchdown of the game six plays later on a 13-yard rush by running back David Mickell. BYU would get on the board after Broncos snapped the ball out of the end zone, giving the Cougars a safety to cut Boise State's lead to 14-2. The Broncos would add two more touchdowns in the first half to bring the score to 28-2 at halftime. The Cougars scored the next nine points of the game -- one safety and one touchdown -- cutting the Bronco lead to 16 points. The touchdown came after the Cougars drove 85 yards on 17 plays and scored on a 1-yard run by Tafui Vakapuna. Vakapuna was one of the bright spots for the Cougars, rushing for 87 yards on 16 carries and the one touchdown. Boise State would hold the Cougars scoreless the remainder of the game while tacking on 22 more points. BYU's defense put together another good game, holding the Broncos' high-powered offense that came into the game averaging 517 yards-per-game to just 381 total yards. In the third quarter, Aaron Francisco intercepted Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie--the first interception Dinwiddie had thrown in 173 attempts.
- Boise State's Chris Carr blocked a Matt Payne punt attempt early in the first quarter, which was recovered in the endzone by Cam Hall for the Bronco's first touchdown of the night. The played marked the second time this season the Cougars have allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown. The first came during the season-opener against Georgia Tech.
- Boise State drew first blood after a blocked punt led to a touchdown with 12:00 remaining in the first quarter. The Bronco touchdown marked the seventh time (in 10 games) this season BYU's opponent has scored first. In those seven games, the Cougars are 3-4.
- The Cougars' safety in the first quarter marked the second safety of the season. K.C. Bills sacked USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the endzone on Sept. 6 for the team's only other safety this season. The Cougars' two safeties in the game marked a BYU single-game record.
- BYU's Aaron Francisco picked off Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie in the third quarter, marking his second interception of the season. The play also marked only the second interception of the season for Dinwiddie, his first since the second quarter of the Wyoming game -- a stretch of 173 consecutive attempts without an interception.
- The Cougars were credited with four turnovers on the night on four interceptions. Over the past two games, BYU has committed a total of nine turnovers.
- Including Colorado State's 58-points on Oct. 9 and Boise State's 50 on Thursday, the Cougars have given up a total of 108 points over the last two home games marking the most points ever allowed over a two-game home stretch.
A BRATH OF FRESH AIR
After running back Marcus Whalen went down with a foot injury in the Cougars' season-opener against Georgia Tech, junior running back Reynaldo Brathwaite burst on to the scene and hasn't looked back. Brathwaite leads the Cougars with 735 yards rushing on the season, ranking fifth overall in the Mountain West. Brathwaite, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior has 131 carries on the season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He has posted a BYU record 95-yard touchdown run (at San Diego State), in addition to an 89-yard run in the Cougars' 10-7 win at New Mexico.
SCORING DRIVE INFORMATION
On the season the Cougars have allowed 38 scoring drives, including 13 drives of 38 yards or less. The longest drive for an opponent this season has been an 89 yarder (vs. Boise State), while the shortest was an 11-yard drive posted by USC. BYU opponents average scoring drive covers 52.2 yards. Offensively, BYU has had 31 scoring drives, averaging just over 56.3 yards per drive. The Cougars' longest drive was a 95-yarder against San Diego State, while the shortest was a 7-yard drive at UNLV. Nine of the Cougars' 30 scoring drives have been 78 yards or longer.
GET TO THE POINT
Prior to the Cougars' 44-point offering against San Diego State, the Cougars had scored just 76 points through the first five games, marking the lowest overall scoring total to start a season since 1970 when BYU scored just 55 points in the first five games. That stretch also included a 17-0 shutout at UTEP, and a 10-7 win over North Texas. The Cougars started 1-4 in 1975 and finished with an overall record of 3-8. The Cougars posted more points against the Aztecs, eclipsing their combined total over the previous three games. In fact, BYU racked up 24 points in the second quarter, marking the highest single-quarter point total of the season. Against Wyoming, the Cougars managed just 10 points, marking the fifth time this season BYU has scored 14 or less points. Through the first nine games of the season, the Cougars have scored 170 points, averaging 18.9 points per game. The scoring average is the lowest through nine games since the 1970 season when BYU averaged 13 points through nine games.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
Against San Diego State, BYU recorded six sacks, improving its season total to 17. Against Colorado State and Wyoming the Cougars sacked the opposing quarterback three times each contest. Last week against UNLV, the Cougar defense sacked Rebel quarterback Kurt Nantkes one time to improve its total to 23 sacks. In the season's first five games the Cougars had recorded 11 sacks, averaging 2.2 sacks per contest. Colby Bockwoldt leads the team with 4.5 sacks, followed by Brady Poppinga with four and John Denney with 3.5. BYU has seven players with at least two sacks on the season.
The Cougar defense, which ranks 18th nationally and yields 310.4 yards per game, will face a Notre Dame offense that is 97th in the nation in total offense with an average of 322.6 yards per game. Irish running back Julius Jones is 35th in the nation in rushing, averaging 92.8 yards a contest. BYU's defense ranks third in the MWC and is tied for 32nd nationally with 12 interceptions. Jernaro Gilford, John Denney and Aaron Francisco lead the Cougars in interceptions with two a piece. Nine Cougars have at least one interception. Against UNLV, Francisco grabbed his first interception of the year to seal the Cougars' victory in overtime. The following week Francisco intercepted Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie--the first interception Dinwiddie had thrown in 173 attempts and only his second of the season. The BYU defense has scored one touchdown on the season. Interestingly, that touchdown came against San Diego State, marking the third straight game at Qualcomm Stadium the Cougars have scored a defensive touchdown ('99, Hans Olson; '01, Isaac Kelley; '03, Colby Bockwoldt.). On the season, the BYU defense has prevented its opponents from gaining its season average in eight of nine games.
TURNOVER A NEW LEAF
Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. After 10 games, BYU has produced a minus 10 turnover margin. While recording four turnovers against Georgia Tech, allowing just two, the Cougars gave up five turnovers against USC, while forcing just three turnovers. In a defensive battle at New Mexico, the Cougars recovered one fumble, and did not allow a single turnover. Stanford won the turnover battle, throwing two interceptions while recovering three BYU fumbles and intercepting two passes. Against Air Force BYU had one interception and lost one fumble. Against San Diego State BYU recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass, while the Aztecs recovered three Cougar fumbles. Against Colorado State, BYU recovered two fumbles, while the Rams also recovered two fumbles and recorded two interceptions. Wyoming and BYU committed three turnovers a piece. BYU produced a minus two turnover margin last week against the Rebels. On the season BYU committed 32 turnovers, while its opponents have committed 22.
IN THE RED ZONE
On the season, the Cougars have scored 10 of 26 times it has entered the Red Zone. In the season-opener against Georgia Tech, BYU scored on 3-of-4 trips inside Georgia Tech's 20-yard line, including two touchdowns and a field goal. Defensively, the Cougars gave up two field goals, and forced a fumble inside the Red Zone. In one of the best red zone defensive series of the night, Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the Cougars' four-yard line. Linebacker Mike Tanner and Cougarback Aaron Francisco stopped P.J. Daniels for a one-yard to bring up second and goal from the three-yard line. After a delay of game penalty, Tech quarterback Reggie Ball threw the ball away as the Cougars applied exceptional defensive coverage. Facing third and goal from the eight-yard line, defensive end John Denney swatted Ball's pass attempt to force fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The Yellow Jackets managed a a 26-yard field goal after having the ball inside the four-yard line. Against fourth-ranked USC, the Cougars scored on three-of-three attempts inside the Red Zone, including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Daniel Coats. Following is a game-by-game look at both the Cougars' Red Zone offense and Red Zone defense on the season. At UNLV, the Cougars entered the Red Zone four times and scored three touchdowns and one field goal, including the game winning touchdown pass from Matt Berry to Toby Christensen in overtime.
BYU center Connor Pay was named to the 2023 Rimington Trophy preseason watchlist for the second season in row.