PROVO Since coach Bronco Mendenhall took the reins of the BYU football program in 2005, the Cougars have, among other things, posted back-to-back winning seasons; claimed an outright Mountain West Conference championship and earned at least a share of another; won a bowl game; and defeated Utah on the road.
What they haven't done is beat the Utes at home. This week, it's BYU's next big hurdle.
In fact, Utah has defeated the Cougars in six of the last seven meetings at LaVell Edwards Stadium, including two in a row.
"I hope our team realizes that," said linebacker Bryan Kehl.
BYU has won 11 straight home games. The last team to beat the Cougars in Provo? Utah. BYU has won 14 consecutive MWC games. The last conference foe to beat the Cougars? The Utes, of course. That happened in the same day, back in November, 2005, when Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff replaced injured starter Brian Johnson and led the Utes to an improbable 41-34 overtime victory.
"They've played really well at our stadium. It's a credit to them," said Cougar linebacker Kelly Poppinga. "They're going to be fired up to come to our stadium and we're going to be fired up to have them there. For us seniors, it's our last game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It's going to be a special event."
As has been well-documented, prior to Mendenhall's first season, he had his players lay on the grass at an empty Edwards Stadium and listen to the audio of some of BYU's greatest home victories in history. Then, Edwards himself showed up and talked to the Cougars.
"Championships," he told them, "are won as you win at home."
On Saturday, BYU can complete its second straight unbeaten season at home and earn its second consecutive outright conference championship all in the same day.
Last Saturday, the Cougars defeated Wyoming, 35-10, in Laramie, to claim at least a piece of the MWC title. A week earlier, the Utes crushed the Cowboys, 50-0. Both teams are riding seven-game winning streaks.
"At halftime, we were up 21-3 (against Wyoming) and some players were frustrated about that. But you don't have to beat everybody by 50 points," Kehl said. "Personally, I like close games. You just come out and win. That's all that matters. What I like about coach Mendenhall is, if we would have won by 50, he would have said, 'Great win.' And he would have pointed out all the things we did wrong. If we would have won by one point, he would have pointed out all the things we did wrong. He's consistent, week-in, week-out."
All season long, Mendenhall has emphasized consistency and practicing the same way every week. He isn't changing his tune this week, even against the archrivals.
"Every opponent is treated exactly the same in our preparation," he said. "As long as I'm the coach, that will be the case."
Will consistency at home and in conference play continue this week for BYU? Or will the Utes ruin the Cougars' season, again, in Cougar Town? One way or another, some streaks are going to end on Saturday at Edwards Stadium.