Cougars in Control
BYU is undefeated, owns the nation's longest winning streak and is making a habit of dominating its opponents. One bad quarter, however, has tempered some of the team's enthusiasm.
The ninth-ranked Cougars seek their 16th consecutive victory on Saturday when they move back into Mountain West Conference play against New Mexico.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made BYU –23.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on BYU –23.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Since a controversial one-point win over Washington on Sept. 6, BYU (5-0, 1-0 Mountain West) has won three straight by a combined 123 points. The first two games in that span were resounding shutouts of UCLA and Wyoming in which the Cougars racked up 103 unanswered points.
BYU appeared on its way to a third straight shutout victory last Saturday against non-conference foe Utah State, entering the fourth quarter with a 34-0 lead. The Aggies, though, ended the Cougars' shutout stretch at 166 minutes, 15 seconds and frustrated BYU into repeated mistakes and penalties before losing 34-14.
"We played well at times, but there were some glimpses of just an average offense,'' said BYU receiver Austin Collie, who caught two touchdown passes from Heisman Trophy hopeful Max Hall.
The Cougars were called for 12 penalties for 123 yards and Hall, who was sacked for the first time this season, threw a pair of interceptions and committed one of several personal fouls by his team.
"Toward the end, through lack of composure, a few missed assignments and missed tackles, I don't think they finished the game well," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Overall, it was a significant win, but in terms of meeting expectations, our players know that didn't happen."
Despite the failure to finish strong, there were still plenty of positives for the Cougars. They held a 24-0 halftime lead after turning three first-half turnovers by Utah State into 17 points. Hall had another strong performance, passing for 307 yards and connecting with seven different receivers while throwing multiple touchdowns for the fifth straight game.
BYU owns its longest win streak since it won a school-record 25 straight during the 1983-85 seasons. The Cougars' 5-0 start also is their best since the 2001 team opened with 12 straight wins.
With seven games remaining - all against conference foes - BYU finds itself in a strange position as a non-BCS team ranked in the top 10. Regardless of how well they play, the Cougars may not be able to move up because they don't face a team currently ranked until the regular-season finale against No. 14 Utah on Nov. 22.
Conference play hasn't presented much of a problem for BYU, which has won 17 straight league games since a 41-34 loss to the Utes on Nov. 19, 2005.
New Mexico (3-3, 1-1) is coming off its most complete performance of the season, a 24-0 victory over Wyoming last Saturday. Redshirt freshman James Wright carried 15 times for 120 yards while the Lobos' defense held the Cowboys to 201 total yards.
Beating BYU figures to be a difficult enough task and doing it in Provo, where the Cougars have also won 15 straight, could prove to be near impossible. The Lobos, though, can rely on a very effective ground game that has piled up 614 yards in the past two contests.
Although his team will be facing a top 10 team on the road, New Mexico coach Rocky Long and his players are approaching Saturday's contest as any other game.
"It doesn't matter if they're ranked in the top ten or if they're not ranked in the top ten, we approach the game exactly the same," Long said. "It's a big mistake when you downgrade an opponent or you make them better than they are."
The Lobos have faced a ranked BYU team 15 times, winning only the 1980 season opener.
BYU is 42-14-1 against New Mexico, including 21-5 at home. Mendenhall, the Lobos' defensive coordinator from 1998-2002, is 3-0 against his former team.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
BYU is 8-8 against the spread versus NEW MEXICO since 1992
BYU is 13-3 straight up against NEW MEXICO since 1992
6 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
BYU is 1-1 against the spread versus NEW MEXICO over the last 3 seasons
BYU is 2-0 straight up against NEW MEXICO over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at BYU since 1992
NEW MEXICO is 5-3 against the spread versus BYU since 1992
BYU is 6-2 straight up against NEW MEXICO since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at BYU over the last 3 seasons.
NEW MEXICO is 1-0 against the spread versus BYU over the last 3 seasons
BYU is 1-0 straight up against NEW MEXICO over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
(!) [QB] Donovan Porterie is downgraded to expected to miss the remainder
(!) [RB] Rodney Ferguson left last game, upgraded to probable - Shoulder -
[RB] Paul Baker left last game, probable - Foot - 09/29/08
[DE] Phillip Harrison has left the team - Personal - 09/29/08
[S] Ian Clark missed last game, upgraded to probable - Shoulder - 09/29/08
[DB] Jerome Jenkins out for the season - Ankle - 09/23/08
[S] Mike Love is out indefinitely - Academics - 09/01/08
[WR] Michael Reed expected to miss 2 - 4 weeks - Knee - 09/20/08
[WR] Spencer Hafoka is doubtful. - Foot - 09/30/08
[C] Tom Sorenson expected to miss 4-6 weeks - Shoulder - 08/06/08
[LB] Dan Van Sweden expected to miss entire season - Leg - 08/16/08
[LB] Grant Nelson is expected to miss 2008-2009 season. - Illness - 08/02/
[DT] Terrance Hooks is out indefinitely. - Knee - 09/01/08
[LB] Vic So'oto expected to miss 4-6 weeks. - Foot - 09/08/08
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