It's time for the annual Utah-BYU game, which means the 1990 college football season is nearing the end.
Southern Utah finished its season last Saturday with a 35-19 loss to Portland State; Weber State closes out the season this Saturday with a trip to Louisiana to play McNeese State; Utah State welcomes Pacific to Logan; and, of course, the Utes play host to the Cougars in the traditional grudge match.Here's a preview of this week's action, based on coaches' comments at Tuesday's Big Five Huddle luncheon:
BYU (8-1 overall, 6-0 league) at Utah (4-6, 2-5), Noon, Rice Stadium, Channel 2 - Utah Coach Ron McBride hopes his team will ride the momentum of last week's come-from-behind victory over New Mexico into the contest with the Cougars.
"Last week was a matter of the team that had more will to win," McBride said. "There was a difference in our football team, in that it made a decision of what it wanted to be."
McBride is depending on the same kind of commitment this week, as his team encounters a BYU team that he said is "the best I've seen over the years."
"They're better in the offensive line than they've ever been, and their secondary is better than it has ever been," McBride said.
BYU Coach LaVell Edwards then took his turn praising the opponent, saying "Utah has good speed and quickness on defense, and the ability to throw the football, and the rivalry is a big factor."
Because of the rivalry, and the result of BYU's last visit to Rice Stadium (a 57-28 pasting at the hands of the Utes), Edwards doesn't think he'll have a hard time motivating his team.
"We need this one to win the conference championship," he said, "so I think our players will be able to stay focused."
Pacific (4-6, 2-4) at Utah State (4-4-1, 4-1-1), noon, Romney Stadium - Making one of his rare appearances at the weekly coaches-media get-together, Aggie Coach Chuck Shelton said he is putting a lot of emphasis on this game because "it's about the only way we can assure ourselves of a winning season." The Aggies play in Provo next week, and beating Pacific has got to be an easier way of finishing with a .500 record - for the first time in Shelton's five-year tenure - than beating BYU.
"The Pacific game has evolved into as big a game as we've had here," Shelton said. "If we can beat them, then I'll feel we're pretty close to where we want to be."
Shelton said his team's biggest objective will be to keep Pacific's high-powered run-and-shoot offense from running and shooting.
"They're a scary football team," the coach said. "They throw the ball awfully well and keep their offense on the field a lot of the time."
Weber State (4-6, 3-5) at McNeese State (5-5, 4-2), 6 p.m. (MST), Cowboy Stadium, Lake Charles, La. - Wildcat Coach Dave Arslanian couldn't address the group Tuesday because of a bout with laryngitis, but if he could have spoken he probably would have said his team is desperate to find a way to halt a four-game losing streak.
Six weeks ago Weber State was 4-2 and ranked 18th in the nation among Div. 1-AA schools, but then it lost a two-pointer to Montana and hit the skids. The 'Cats played respectably in Wyoming but lost 21-12 to a nationally ranked Cowboy team, got walloped by Nevada 28-7, and lost another close one last week, 38-35 to Northern Arizona.
McNeese State, meanwhile, has been headed in the opposite direction, winning four of its last six games.
The two teams have had one common opponent this season - Montana. The Cowboys lost to the Grizzlies in Missoula, 45-22; Montana defeated Weber State in Ogden, 39-37.