Factors in the UCLA/BYU Game

There are many connections and quite a bit of history between this UCLA team and its opponent this Saturday, the BYU Cougars. Not only did Norm Chow coach in Provo for 27 years, but UCLA's quarterback, Kevin Craft, started his career as a college quarterback against BYU in Provo...

-- UCLA travels to Provo, Utah, to take on BYU Saturday at 12:30 PST.

-- The game will be televised nationally by Versus (Channel 603 on Direct TV).

-- BYU is ranked 15th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, and 18th in the AP Poll.

-- UCLA was ranked 23rd in the AP Poll the week after its win over Tennessee, but fell out of the top 25 after its bye week.

-- BYU has played two games so far this season, beating Northern Iowa in Provo, 41-27, and sneaking by Washington, 28-27, in Seattle last week.

-- UCLA, of course, uspet Tennessee in an overtime victory, 27-24, at the Rose Bowl two weeks ago. The Bruins had a bye last week.

-- UCLA enjoys a 7-2 margin in its all-time series with BYU, which dates back to 1983. UCLA, actually, lost for the first time to the Cougars in 24 years in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, 17-16.

-- The teams met twice last season. In addition to the bowl game, UCLA's second game of the season was against BYU last September, when it beat the Cougars 27-17 at the Rose Bowl.

-- After UCLA beat BYU, the Cougars lost the next week to Tulsa, but then have rattled off 12 straight wins since.

-- It's unique that this will be the third time in a calendar year that two teams from different conferences will play each other.

-- UCLA lost to BYU in the bowl game when it was playing without its first- and second-string quarterbacks, and even that handicapped, the Bruins were still in a position to win the game. Kai Forbath, however, had his game-winning field goal attempt from 28 yards blocked on the final play of the game, with UCLA losing 17-16.

-- Coincidentally, BYU beat Washington last Saturday in similar circumstances. The Huskies scored in the last few seconds of the game, to come within one point, 28-27, only to be accessed an excessive celebration penalty when quarterback Jake Locker threw the ball in the air after scoring the touchdown. Washington's extra-point attempt from 35 yards was blocked by BYU.

-- UCLA has never lost against BYU (3-0) in Provo.

-- BYU is coached by Bronco Mendenhall, who, in just his fourth season, has resurrected the once premier Mountain West program. In 2006, in his first season, he went 6-6, which was a big turnaround considering the Cougars hadn't had a winning season since 2001. Then, in his next two seasons Mendenhall coached the Cougars to back-to-back 11-win seasons while claiming two MWC titles and two top 20 national rankings. In that time he has gone 16-0 against his league opponents. Before Mendenhall took over the position he was the program's defensive coordinator, after making a name for himself in the position at New Mexico. Bruin fans might remember that he was New Mexico's DC when UCLA played the Lobos in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl. Even though UCLA won, 27-13, UCLA was held to a season-low 167 yards in that game. So, suffice it to say, that Mendenhall is known as a defensive coach, and has a defensive scheme that professes to be able to plug in new faces and not skip a beat.

-- UCLA, of course, is coached by Rick Neuheisel, who, in his first game coaching his alma mater, pulled off an upset of then-#18 ranked Tennessee two weeks ago. Neuheisel has gotten a great deal of press for the victory, and for utilizing a helicopter Friday night to go to the games of different high school prospects in Southern California.

-- The last time Neuheisel coached in Provo was in 1999 when he made his head coaching debut for Washington.

-- The Cougars have the longest active winning streak in the nation, having won 12 consecutive games.

-- BYU hasn't lost a game at home since November 2005, having won 13 straight home games.

-- BYU, for the first time since 1997, started a season ranked in the top 25, and their ranking of #16 in this year's pre-season AP Poll was the highest pre-season ranking for BYU since 1990.

-- Edwards Stadium, named after former BYU coach Lavell Edwards, seats 64,045, and the Cougars have sold out seven consecutive home games.

-- UCLA Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow, of course, has some deep ties to the BYU program. He spent 27 years on the BYU coaching staff, in various capacities. While Chow was at BYU, the Cougars won 72% of their games and appeared in 22 bowl games. In 12 of his 18 years as BYU's offensive coordinator, Chow's offense finished in the top 10 nationally in total offense. Chow served every year but two at BYU under Edwards, and there was some sentiment that he was passed over by BYU for its head coaching position at various times after Edwards had left.

-- UCLA Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker also worked on the BYU coaching staff, when Chow was on the staff.

-- BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber served at UCLA in the same capacity under Bob Toledo.

-- BYU's current roster features 20 players from the state of California, including some former high school teammates of UCLA players. BYU receiver Austin Collie and UCLA tight end Ryan Moya were teammates at El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Oak Ridge.

-- Of the 105 players on BYU's fall camp roster, 75 of them have already served their Mormon mission. There are actually 45 members of the BYU football program currently serving missions.

-- There are 27 players on BYU's roster that are married. In fact, star tight end Dennis Pitta is the brother-in-law of quarterback Max Hall, Pitta having recently married the sister of Hall's wife.

-- Provo's elevation is approximately 4,500 feet, and playing at that altitude has been discussed as an issue, even though Neuheisel has insisted UCLA won't take precautions for it.

-- The weather forecast for Saturday is a high of 77 degrees with sunny skies and light winds.

-- UCLA's quarterback Kevin Craft actually has started a game against BYU in Provo -- when he was playing for San Diego State in 2006 as a redshirt freshman. It was his first career start, and he went 20 of 32 for 216 yards while throwing one interception in a loss to BYU.


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