PROVO — BYU and Weber State have met only twice on the football field. Both games happened in the 1970s, in Provo, long before any current players were born.
The first game took place on Nov. 17, 1973, with the Cougars winning, 45-14. They played again on Sept. 15, 1979, a week after the Cougars had earned a monumental upset victory on the road against nationally ranked Texas A&M. BYU won the second meeting, 48-3.
Decades later, former Wildcat head coach Ron McBride expressed an interest in playing BYU, said Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"We were waiting for the right set-up on our schedule," said Mendenhall, whose older brother played at Weber State under Mike Price. "It fit nicely in terms of the schedule this year. I can't say it's going to happen every year, but it seemed like the right thing to do for this season."
Two members of BYU's staff have ties to Weber State — secondary coach Nick Howell, who graduated from the Ogden school in 2005; and defensive graduate assistant Jason Kaufusi, who coached the defensive ends at Weber State for two seasons.
Weber State is the fifth FCS team to play BYU under Mendenhall, along with Eastern Illinois (2005), Eastern Washington (2007), Northern Iowa (2008) and Idaho State (2011).
UP-AND-COMING STAR?: Freshman defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, who returned from a mission just three days before fall camp opened, is already one of BYU's best pass rushers, according to Mendenhall.
"He's just a real natural athlete, pass-rusher with great speed-to-size ratio," Mendenhall said of the 6-foot-7, 260-pounder out of Timpview High. "He and Ziggy Ansah are probably our two best pass rushers right now. We're trying to use him in a limited role, because he was only three days home off of a mission before two-a-days. I've been really impressed. To think this is just the beginning as a true freshman? He could be really special."
BUCKING THE ODDS: Senior cornerback Robbie Buckner missed the first part of fall camp due to a bout with cancer. But Buckner has returned, and he is listed as Preston Hadley's backup at boundary corner.
"We like Robbie a lot," Mendenhall said.
There was a time when Mendenhall didn't expect Buckner to play this season.
"He didn't come into fall camp. We were just communicating the whole time," Mendenhall said. "I think he was uncertain. We didn't know how long it would be for him to come back. Battling cancer, how do you know if you're going to play again? It's been a really nice success story."
BY THE NUMBERS: Since Mendenhall took over as defensive coordinator again in 2010 (going back 21 games), the Cougars have allowed an average of 92.5 rushing yards per game. Only one team, defending national champion Alabama, has been better.
Meanwhile, when Mendenhall's teams surrender less than 24 points, BYU has posted a 59-5 record. When they allow more than 24 points, the Cougars are 8-20.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company