PROVO — Intriguing streaks abound in a showdown between two teams with identical 5-2 records.
As BYU hosts Boise State Friday (6 p.m., ESPN) at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Cougars will be trying to ruin some longstanding Boise State success.
The Broncos enter the game having won 50 consecutive games in the month of October. Boise State hasn’t dropped a contest in October since 2001.
Even more amazingly, the Broncos have won 21 consecutive games against teams from the state of Utah, including an all-time 3-0 record against BYU.
Meanwhile, the Cougars are looking to extend their four-game winning streak — they haven’t won five in a row since 2009 — and avoid a four-game losing streak to the Broncos.
Not that BYU’s players and coaches are caught up in all of the milestones and streaks, including the Beehive State’s general futility against Boise State.
“I don’t think about (the state of) Utah (not having) beaten Boise State in a long time or whatever the record is,” said quarterback Taysom Hill. “I want to win the football game. Boise State is a good program and I have a lot of respect for them. But I want to beat Boise State. I want to win. It’s not any different than it would be any other game. I don’t want to win more than I wanted to win last week. That’s just who I am.”
Asked if he feels like his team feels the weight of representing the entire state in trying to snap that infamous streak, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “I think our own banner is heavy enough right now.”
“We’re playing for ourselves and Cougar Nation on Saturday,” said BYU defensive back Mike Hague. “We don’t have 21-0 in our minds when we go out there.”
All things considered, Hague is looking forward to the atmosphere Friday.
“It’s going to be really cool being on ESPN and being the only game on Friday and having two non-BCS schools that are always two of the most powerful non-BCS schools going against each other,” he said. “That’s a cool thing. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
For Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Friday’s game marks his 100th as the school’s head coach. He’s posted an 89-10 record in his first 99 games, making him the winningest active coach in the FBS. A Boise State win would give Petersen 90 career victories.
“It’s uncommon for Boise State to have any losses at this point in the year,” noted Mendenhall.
In September one streak came to a halt, as Boise State failed to receive a vote in either the USA Today or Associated Press polls for the first time since October 2005. That streak lasted 125 consecutive polls.
Meanwhile, BYU’s offense is coming off a performance that saw it roll up 681 yards of total offense in a 47-46 victory over Houston. Hill passed for 417 and ran for 128 — making him the first Cougar quarterback to throw for more than 400 and run for more than 100 in a single game.
“It feels really good,” Hill said about the way the offense has been playing, including the Houston win. “For a long time, it’s kind of been a reverse role. Offensively, we’ve been relying on the defense. It’s fun to win a game like we did and it was a team effort. The defense came up with that big interception (at the end). It was an all-around team effort and a good win for our program.”
Hague enjoys the offense’s consistent contributions.
“It’s great. We on defense just need to keep holding teams to six points,” he said. “We need to keep playing the way we do. If we make mistakes, it’s on us. The scheme is sound. We’ve got the players to do it. We just need to execute. We know that with our offense playing like that, we’re not going to lose many games if we just play good defense.”
And what does Hague think about Hill’s improvement in recent weeks?
“I think he’s coming into his own. He’s playing some really good football,” he said. “He’s running the ball; he’s throwing the ball; he’s breaking records, for heaven’s sakes. Everyone used to ask me, ‘Can Taysom really throw?’ I’d be like, ‘Trust me, he can throw.’ Everybody can see that now. He’s got a really good arm. I don’t think there are many better athletes in the state of Utah right now than Taysom Hill.”
Boise State’s Petersen knows his team has a challenge on its hands, playing on the road with a quarterback making his first start, and with BYU’s offense playing well. “This will be a very tough game for us, without question,” Petersen said.
Can the Cougars finally beat Boise State, and end these longstanding streaks?
“They see a great opportunity lying ahead,” Mendenhall said of his players. “They think Boise State is a good football team and they’re looking forward to the matchup.”