You're probably thinking BYU is having a hard time keeping a straight face for this Saturday's football game with Utah.

You're thinking the Cougars are feeling fat and sassy about their Top 5 ranking, and are looking at the Utes as just the latest in a long line of WAC patsies.You're thinking the Blue team will be so overconfident coming into Rice Stadium that the Red team will be able to sneak up on them.


No way, the Cougars say. They remember the last get-together in Salt Lake City, two years ago, when Scott Mitchell & Co. took advantage of eight BYU turnovers to pound the Y., 57-28.

That pounding provided a motive for last year's revenge game in Cougar Stadium, in which BYU took a 49-0 lead before easing up and coasting to a 70-31 victory. The Cougars needed that game in their quest for a WAC title and Holiday Bowl berth, and say the same motivation will keep them from suffering a letdown this week.

"We're looking at this as a chance to wrap up the WAC title," BYU fullback Mike Salido said. "Besides, we already had our allotted letdown, against Oregon."

That letdown has continued to linger as a bad taste in the Cougars' mouths, a reminder of what this season might have been had they remained undefeated. It has spurred them to four straight blowout victories, three of them against teams that could be headed for bowl games: Wyoming, Colorado State and Air Force.

BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said recently, "We are playing as good now as any team we've had," a high accolade from a man not given to gushing praise. "Our team has really come together. We were able to redeem ourselves from our last visit to Laramie last week and hope to do the same from the last time we were in Salt Lake City."

What BYU expects to see in Utah is a team trying to end its season on a high note with a crowd-pleasing win over its arch-rivals. "They're going to be sky-high," Salido predicted. "They'll be playing with nothing to lose."

What one ordinarily expects from a team with a nothing-to-lose attitude is a reckless abandon on offense and defense. BYU has proved, however, that blitzing quarterback Ty Detmer too much can be deadly: Detmer is adept at reading blitzes and calling audibles that take advantage of a shortage in the secondary.

Salido said it is more likely that Utah will show different defensive looks, rather than blitzing frequently. "I think they're going to try to mix it up and not let us get a bead on what they're doing," he said. "But it's hard to catch us off-guard, especially with a guy as smart as Ty back there."

Cougar offensive guard Bryan May says the offensive line will be prepared for whatever defensive scheme the Utes choose. "We're coached well enough that we can handle most anything that's thrown at us," he said. "Sometimes mixing it up works a little bit, and sometimes it doesn't."

BYU reports everyone healthy for the sold-out game, which starts at noon and will be televised live on Channel 2.