BYU's hopes for a third straight outright Mountain West Conference title are slim. All the 17th-ranked Cougars can do is win and hope No. 10 Utah and No. 11 TCU stumble.
BYU (8-1, 4-1 Mountain West) hosts San Diego State (1-8, 0-5) on Saturday and can wrap up a third consecutive unbeaten home season. But after that, the Cougars go on the road for the final two games, which will decide where they finish in the league standings.
The Cougars stayed alive in the league title hunt when Max Hall threw a touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 22 seconds left in a 45-42 win at Colorado State last week. The Cougars needed three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to outlast the Rams and win their second straight close game.
, but maybe the lessons will be more beneficial than they would have been if the outcome was different.''
The week before, BYU edged UNLV 42-35 at home in another game that wasn't expected to be close.
Although the Cougars haven't been winning like they were in September's back-to-back shutouts over UCLA (59-0) and Wyoming (44-0), they have still won.
``A lot can be made of margin of victory and style points et cetera but maybe a lot could be made of when it comes down to it this team finds a way to win,'' Mendenhall said. ``Winning football games is very difficult.''
Utah (10-0, 6-0) is alone in first place in the conference standings after rallying for a 13-10 win over TCU (9-2, 6-1) on Thursday night. The Horned Frogs, the only team to beat BYU this season, could have clinched at least a share of the Mountain West with a win over the Utes.
Cougars, who finish the regular season at Utah on Nov. 22, have a chance to either tie or even win the Mountain West outright if they can sweep San Diego State, Air Force and Utah. The Utes are at San Diego State next week and barring a huge upset should be entering the BYU game still unbeaten. TCU's remaining game is against Air Force.
move players around to fill in at spots they're not used to playing.
``We've had our share of tough times this season and each time it has happened, we've stuck together,'' linebacker Russell Allen said.
And now the Aztecs have to go to Provo, where BYU has won 17 straight - tying the school record for consecutive home wins.
``We are going into a BYU game in Provo that is a big challenge for us. They have great size and skills,'' said Long, a former quarterback who called Hall one of the top QBs in the country. ``They have running backs as big as our defensive line right now.''
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