FACTS AND FIGURES
Where: Provo, Utah (117,489)
Colors: Dark blue and white
Last game: Lost to Utah 24-21 on Saturday in Salt Lake City
Bronco Mendenhall took over the BYU program in 2005 after three straight losing seasons a stunning downturn for one of the nations most consistent winners. He has posted a 68-25 record in eight seasons since including seven straight bowl berths and a Top 25 ranking at the end of five of the past six seasons. The Cougars also have earned five bowl wins in the past six seasons, a first in program history.
Mendenhall was BYUs defensive coordinator in 2003-04, when the Cougars lost the only two previous meetings with BSU, and still serves in that capacity. He was the coordinator at New Mexico from 1998 to 2002. He grew up in Utah and played football at Snow College and Oregon State.
The Cougars like to use a personnel group with two backs and one tight end to create many different looks for the opposing defense. Its a balanced attack that features the dual talents of senior quarterback Riley Nelson, who has completed 60 percent of his passes and is second on the team with 108 rushing yards gained (not counting sacks/losses).
WR Cody Hoffman (15.6 yards per catch) and TE Kaneakua Friel (15 catches, four TDs) are the top receiving targets. Michael Alisa (4.2 yards per carry) leads the run game.
The Cougars rank sixth in the nation in rushing defense (53 yards per game), ninth in total defense (241 ypg) and 20th in scoring defense (14.3 points per game). Linebackers Kyle Van Noy (4.5 sacks) and Spencer Hadley (3.5 sacks) own most of the teams 13 sacks.
Its going to be a big challenge, not only for the O-line, its going to be for everybody, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. Theyre the next level on defense, for sure. Bronco has got them playing as hard as theyve ever played. Thats one thing that always jumps out whenever you watch BYU. Thats his baby. Hes a defensive guy.
Regular kicker Justin Sorensen is recovering from off-season back surgery and was used for long kicks last week. He was 0-for-1 and a second kick was blocked before a penalty erased the play. Punter Riley Stephenson has handled the rest of the field goals. Hes 4-of-6, with a 36-yarder that clanged off the upright Saturday night on the final play of the Cougars loss.
Stephenson is a terrific punter. He averages 47.4 yards per punt and has placed eight of 14 inside the 20-yard line. JD Falslev averages 20.8 yards on punt returns and the team has averaged 28.0 yards on kickoff returns.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mendenhall is 3-1 in Thursday games immediately following a Saturday game. The Cougars havent faced the ultra-short week since 2008.