HONOLULU — As BYU heads into its regular season finale against Hawaii, Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall is hoping his team can pick up where it left off prior to last week's bye.
BYU crushed its last two opponents, Idaho and New Mexico State, by identical scores of 42-7.
"Prior to the bye, I think we were gaining momentum, playing more cleanly and at a higher level than we had all year," he said. "That was building week-by-week. We were gaining substantial momentum. My hope is it continues. I would like to play well in Hawaii and in our bowl game. … We're trying to play as good as we possibly can with the time we have remaining in relation to our potential, which I don't think we've met yet," he said. "But we are getting closer. And when that happens, we have a very good team."
Senior running Bryan Kariya enjoyed his time off last week, but he said he and his teammates are eager to get back on the field.
"It was kind of nice to be with the family on Thanksgiving and spend some time there," he said. "But we're hungry and ready to go for this week as well. We want to come back and make sure we have everything in line and ready to go for our game on Saturday."
BIG CHALLENGE: Hawaii coach Greg McMackin knows his team will have to play well to knock off BYU.
"We just have to get better as a team," he said. "We have to improve on last week, we have to improve on our tackling, we have to improve on certain things, and play the best game we can possibly play. This is a very good football team that's coming here. BYU is well-coached and have good athletes. Their play is really physical."
McMackin added that his is looking forward to renewing the rivalry with the Cougars.
"Then there are so many guys that have friends on that football team," he said. "It makes it a rivalry to these guys because they have many friends, they have relatives, so they're familiar with each other. It's good to start the rivalry again. It was a great rivalry and we are scheduled again for a long time in the future, so it's going to be exciting to start that rivalry again because it's two great schools."
BOWL BOUND: Following Saturday's game at Hawaii, BYU will end the season against a Conference USA opponent in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 in Dallas.
The Cougars could face Tulsa, Southern Miss, SMU or Houston.
"From what I've seen, they all look good. I saw SMU earlier on film this season when they beat TCU," Mendenhall said. "I saw Tulsa a little bit when they were playing Houston. They played them tough for a while. Houston moves the ball against anybody and everybody. I haven't seen Southern Miss play."