PROVO So what will BYU do today for an encore?
After playing a near-perfect game in last week's 59-0 thrashing of UCLA, the No. 14 Cougars open Mountain West Conference play against Wyoming at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
While the nation has been talking about BYU's chances for a Bowl Championship Series berth, the Cougars are focusing on the task at hand and trying not to get caught up in all the outside attention.
The past two weeks, BYU has vanquished opponents from the Pac-10 Conference. But the Cougars say they will play the same way every week, regardless of the foe, and they don't intend to take it easy against the Cowboys.
"I don't think we're going to suffer a letdown," said quarterback Max Hall, who is being mentioned nationally as a Heisman Trophy candidate. "If we want to reach our goals, we've got to be pretty close to perfect by the end of the year. Every single game matters if we want to reach our goals."
"We're looking to get better every single game," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "This is conference play, which does matter to us more than any of the other goals. When we have the chance to play in our stadium in a conference game, it's a great chance for our team to improve, for us to establish ourselves in league and for our fans to continue to show their support."
BYU wants to build on that blowout victory over the Bruins.
"It's always nice to get a shutout," said safety Kellen Fowler. "For the team as a whole, it was a great confidence-building game to let us know a little bit more about where we stand and hopefully to generate some momentum going into our conference schedule. This week is a huge game. Every conference game is a huge game. We anticipate coming out and playing well again this week and going 1-0 in conference."
The Cougars, who have claimed back-to-back MWC championships, boast a 16-game conference winning streak. Many players on BYU's roster, including junior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen, have never lost a MWC game.
"It feels good to be able to say that right now. I don't want to lose another one," Jorgensen said. "I can't give enough credit to our coaching staff. They do a great job, especially coach Mendenhall, at getting us prepared to play and putting together a game plan that gives us the best opportunity to win. We just go out and do our best to execute it."
The Cowboys know all about the Cougars' lofty credentials, but they say they're not intimidated.
"They're a real tough team. They beat up on UCLA, but that doesn't matter to us," defensive end Mitch Unrein told the Casper Star-Tribune. "We don't care who they've beat, who they've lost to. We're going in there to beat them, and we're going to prepare the best we can and hopefully get the 'W'."
While Wyoming has not beaten BYU since 2003, the Cowboys always get fired up to play the Cougars.
"We know that Wyoming puts that target on us," Jorgensen said. "We know they're coming out ready to play. We know we have to come out ready to play."
"They're a good team. They like to run the ball," Fowler said of Wyoming. "They want to come in and be physical. If they can establish a running game, they can give us some serious headaches.
"We need to be able to play physical, like we did last week, take away the run game and force them to throw the ball and then hopefully take advantage of some possible miscues that we can get them to make in the passing game to make big plays and get the ball back into the offense's hands."
That was the formula for dominance against UCLA, and it's a formula the Cougars would like to follow every week."Once we make a big play, it just starts to steamroll," Jorgensen said. "That's definitely what happened (against UCLA). We kept getting big play after big play and it was just contagious. Everybody started making them."
Cougars on the air
Wyoming (2-1, 0-1) at
No. 14 BYU (3-0, 0-0)
Today, 1 p.m.
LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: The mtn.
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
E-mail: [email protected]