By the time this weekend's college football games are played, it'll be November. That's what BYU Coach LaVell Edwards waits for.
"You tell your team at the beginning of the year that what you really want to do is point toward November."There's nothing more exciting in college football than to be into November in the hunt for the championship, and that's where we're at," Edwards said Tuesday during his portion of the Big Five Huddle media luncheon.
Not everybody in the state's in that position. BYU's 4-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, trailing only 5-0 Wyoming.
Utah State has the next-best opportunity at 2-1-1 with three winable Big West games remaining, but somebody's got to knock off Fresno, and San Jose must lose twice for the Ags to have a ghost of a chance.
Southern Utah's loss to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo left the T-Birds all but out of the Western Football Conference race, and Weber's loss to Nevada left the Wildcats 3-4 with one Big Sky game left. Utah dropped to 1-4 in the WAC after falling to Air Force.
Brigham Young (6-1, 4-0) at Air Force (4-4, 2-3), noon - "It will be a tough conference road with the games we have left," says Edwards. "It will be a very challenging period, but I feel good about our team."
Edwards is more comfortable now that October's stop-and-go schedule - two wins, two byes - is out of the way.
The byes helped. Usually by now, Edwards says, teams are beaten up, "but we really are quite healthy."
BYU will change its defensive fronts for the Air Force wishbone, which seems to have jelled now after turmoil at quarterback earlier in the season. Nobody does the wishbone better than the Cadets. "Textbook," Edwards says.
The way to diffuse it has been to take away the dive play, and to that end BYU will present an even front.
Utah (3-5, 1-4) at San Diego State (2-4, 1-2) 8:05 p.m. - Utah didn't have the answer to the Air Force option last week, falling 52-21 and leaving Coach Ron McBride questioning everything in his charge. "A reflection on myself, the coaching staff and the players," McBride said. "Hopefully it will be a learning situation.
"It's something you can't hide from," McBride said. "The film bears it out. What else can you say?"
San Diego State, another team steeped in disappointment, "will be a good test of our team," McBride says.
The Aztecs haven't played since an Oct. 13 45-31 loss at UCLA. That three weeks off gave them time to "totally re-evaluate our schemes, especially on the defensive side of the ball," says Coach Al Luginbill. QB Dan McGwire continues to shine with 17 TD passes to two interceptions.
New Mexico State (0-8, 0-4) at Utah State (2-4-1, 2-1-1), noon - USU Coach Chuck Shelton worries about a letdown; after four tough games, the Aggies found a team they could make mistakes against and still beat - UNLV.
New Mexico State ended a losing streak last week - for the other team. It fell 35-10 to Tulsa, which had lost six in a row.
USU offensive coordinator Pat Behrns echoes Shelton's thoughts, saying it would be a mistake to underestimate NMS. "We're not that great a team; we have to understand anybody can beat us," Behrns said. He called New Mexico State improved over a year ago though admitting its defense "has been a pretty maligned group." The fewest points it's give up is 24, and defensive end Shawn Moore broke a hand last week and is questionable.
For USU, quarterback Ron Lopez didn't practice Monday because of a severe bruise to the elbow of his throwing arm, but Behrns expects him to be ready.
Weber State (4-5, 3-4), bye - "A good week for a bye," says Coach Dave Arslanian, who has abundant injuries, including running back George Jackson. Jackson returned from a knee injury only to hurt it again vs. Reno. Receiver Rick Justice separated a shoulder.
Arslanian said he'd thought his team didn't play well in its loss to Nevada until he reviewed films. "We really played pretty darned good," he said. "It was depressing, I suppose, because I felt worse than I did Monday to know we're close but not there yet."
Cal Lutheran (2-6) at Southern Utah, 1 p.m. - The final home game is a nonleague match with the Kingsmen, who used to be in the WFC but withdrew at the end of 1989. They have a new coach, making them difficult to read. They've given up 183 points while scoring 94.
"They should be a team we match up with," says T-Bird Coach Jack Bishop, "but we're perfectly capable of beating ourselves."
That wasn't the case last week at SLO, Bishop admitted. "We got beat by a better football team. We got beat at the line of scrimmage," he said.
Now the T-Birds are "at our lowest point, physical-wise," Bishop says because of injuries.
Bishop says he's pointing for a 7-4 season, but even that, he says, might not be good enough to make the Division II playoffs even as a wild-card team.