PROVO BYU landed at No. 14 in the final Associated Press and coaches polls released Tuesday, putting an exclamation point on another 11-2 season and serving as a springboard for the 2008 campaign.
"Our national ranking is the next piece of evidence that links this program to the glory and prominence it once knew," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. "This recognition gives us a tremendous amount of momentum for being able to accomplish our future goals. Over the past two years we have demonstrated, and we will continue to demonstrate, that BYU is and should be considered one of the top programs in the country."
The Cougars, who finished No. 16 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll in 2006 after posting an 11-2 mark, were ranked No. 14 in the coaches poll, tying Auburn for that spot. In the AP poll, BYU (654 votes) finished one notch lower than No. 13 Florida (685) and one higher than No. 15 Auburn (648).
It marks the Cougars' highest finish in the polls since 1996, when they ended up No. 5 in both polls after going 14-1 and defeating Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Rivals.com released its 2008 preseason Top 25 Tuesday. It ranked BYU No. 12, sandwiched between No. 11 Kansas and No. 13 Virginia Tech. Rivals.com commented: "If the Cougars beat Washington and UCLA in September, they might not lose all season."
BYU is one of nine teams in the country to win at least 22 games since the beginning of the 2006 campaign. Only LSU (23), Ohio State (23) and Boise State (23) have more wins over the past two seasons.
The Cougars, along with USC, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida and Hawaii, have 22 wins over the last two years. Only Boise State (3) and Ohio State (3) have lost fewer games. BYU has won at least 11 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1983-84."I couldn't be more pleased with the performance of our football team over the past three years," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. "Coach Mendenhall, his staff and the student-athletes have generated a great deal of excitement. I'm convinced there are very few, if any, barriers that this program can't overcome. Finishing 14th in the polls this season sets the stage for the future."