BYU football: Spartans have Cougars' full attention

Published: Thursday, Oct. 6 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

PROVO — A week ago, San Jose State snapped a 16-game road losing streak with a 38-31 triumph over Colorado State.

Now, as the Spartans get set to visit BYU Saturday (8:15 p.m., MT, ESPN), they are looking to tear down another barrier — they haven't won back-to-back nonconference road games since 1982.

"Our game against Colorado State was an exciting game for us, one where we jumped up on them and they came roaring back, and then we finished it off strong at the end," said second-year SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre. "I'm really proud of our kids. It's the first road victory we've had in a long time so it was an exciting day for us, and I think it was exciting for the WAC to beat a Mountain West team on the road at their homecoming."

It's probably not lost on the Spartans that BYU is celebrating its homecoming this week.

Coupled with a victory over New Mexico State on Sept. 24, SJSU has now won back-to-back games for the first time in three years.

"I think it's huge for the program. It's just phenomenal for these young men that have battled and played," MacIntyre said. "The majority of our team had never won a road game. The majority of our team had never won back-to-back games. If you look at it from the perspective of our young men's point of view, it's a big deal. It's a step for us in the right direction and it gives them confidence to keep pushing and keep going. I'm excited for them. I would say, within our program and within our kids, it's a huge step. Looking from the outside in it might not be as big of a deal, but you have got to take those small steps before you can start making big leaps. I think we are headed in that direction."

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is impressed with the progress the SJSU program has made, particularly winning at Colorado State.

"It was a huge win," he said. "You could tell they invested a lot into the game. It was a big win for them. They're playing well, especially offensively, right now."

BIG GUYS UP FRONT: BYU's offensive line has absorbed criticism for falling short of expectations this season, but center Terence Brown said the O-line is getting better.

"We've improved every game," he said. "We kind of found out what we're best at up front as far as running the ball goes. It shows in the last two games."

Brown pointed out that the Cougars, who rushed for just 11 yards in the loss to Utah, gained 127 yards against Central Florida and 200 against Utah State.

"I think we're improving. We definitely haven't reached our limit," Brown said. "The ceiling is still way above our head and we have to push and play hard. We've improved each week and we plan to continue that."

Mendenhall wants to see continued improvement in the run game.

"That's one of the things that has to happen and it still needs more work. But it's essential," Mendenhall said. "We won't reach our goals and have the season we want without that."

EXTRA POINTS: BYU has a 17-2 record in its last 19 games decided by seven points or less. … This season, the Cougars are 3-0 when playing on ESPN, and 0-2 on ESPN2. BYU will play its first game of the season on ESPNU on Saturday. The only other time BYU has played on ESPNU was last year, when it fell at Florida State, 34-10.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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