Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time in its history, BYU is playing a team from the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 in the same season.
And the Cougars are doing it in back-to-back weeks.
Last Saturday, the Cougars traveled to Ole Miss, and this weekend, they're visiting Texas.
"I grew up in the South, so I know what's going to happen (at Texas)," said BYU center Terence Brown, a senior from Summerville, S.C. "There's going to be tons of people there. Their fans are going to be very nice and very cordial. That's the way it is down there. They're very polite. During the game, it will be a battle."
Brown added that it's gratifying to play against teams from the elite conferences.
"It means a lot. I grew up thinking that I would play maybe in the SEC," Brown said. "I came here and it was the best choice for me. It's a great opportunity for BYU, being independent and trying to complete the goals we've set."
Wide receiver McKay Jacobson, who hails from Southlake, Texas, loves BYU's inaugural schedule as an independent.
"The quality of opponents that we have on our schedule are right up there with a lot of teams' schedules," he said. "You just can't ask for a better opportunity as a player. As a fan, you've got to love to travel to different places and see how you match up against different teams. Like Ole Miss, Texas has some athletic players and they'll play hard. Their defense flies around, very aggressive. We've got to match that intensity in their stadium. We know they're going to play well."
Running back Bryan Kariya said playing at Ole Miss last week helped prepare BYU for Saturday's game at 100,000-seat Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"One of the big things about playing in a big stadium against a great program is staying composed and not getting riled up by all the excitement and noise," Kariya said. "Part of my job will be to keep everyone calm and collected."
Next week, BYU hosts a Pac-12 team, Utah, before playing at another Pac-12 opponent, Oregon State, in mid-October.
SECONDARY ON ALERT: BYU secondary coach Nick Howell was pleased with the way the cornerbacks and safeties played last Saturday against Ole Miss.
"I thought they played good. No touchdown passes, which is huge," Howell said. "We're still learning and growing. But the coverage we can tighten off. Overall, they did a very good job. I was very happy."
The Cougars are expected to face a stiffer challenge this week against Texas.
The Longhorns boast a couple of big playmakers in true freshman Jaxon Shipley and sophomore Mike Davis.
Playing in his first collegiate game in last week's 34-9 win over Rice, Shipley, the younger brother of the Longhorns' all-time receptions leader Jordan Shipley, caught two passes for 54 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown. He also rushed three times for 25 yards.
Davis, a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, had his third 100-yard receiving game of his career, hauling in three passes for 115 yards, including a 56-yarder.
"Their game is similar to Ole Miss," Howell said of Texas. "I think they'll take more down-the-field shots. Probably a little faster, bigger targets, but the concepts are very similar."
FRESH FACES: Texas played 18 true freshmen in last week's victory over Rice, the most in any opener under Longhorn coach Mack Brown. It's also the most true freshmen who have played in an entire season under Brown.
"Those guys are playmakers," Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin explained. "We're just trying to get guys more involved. I thought they handled it well, and that there were some big opportunities for them to make plays and they did."
WILDFIRES IN AUSTIN: Fires burning outside the city of Austin, home of the University of Texas, have caused air quality issues. Winds from Tropical Storm Lee, which blew through Louisiana, carried smoke from fires in Bastrop into Austin.
Firefighters have contained most of that blaze that started Sunday. It has burned about 43,000 acres, 785 homes and caused two deaths.
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