BYU football: 10-win goal provides extra motivation for Cougars

BYU football
2011-12-28T00:36:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:14Z BYU football: 10-win goal provides extra motivation for CougarsJared Lloyd - Daily Herald Daily Herald
December 28, 2011 12:36 am  • 

While many fans are still recovering from the holiday weekend, the BYU and Tulsa football teams are already in the middle of bowl week.

Kickoff of the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is only two days away.

The Cougars arrived in Texas on Monday and spent the first two days practicing at a local high school before a welcome event Tuesday night officially kicked off the week's activities.

BYU players and coaches will enjoy other activities Wednesday including welcoming home armed forces personnel, visiting a local hospital and having a comedy night and team dinner.

On Thursday, the Cougars will have their final tuneup before taking on the Golden Hurricane on Friday (10 a.m. MST, ESPN).

Both teams would be quick to emphasize that they want to end the season with a bowl victory, but when it comes to straight wins and losses, BYU might have more on the line.

A Tulsa victory would give both team identical 9-4 records, which are solid if not spectacular marks.

A Cougar win, however, would push BYU to 10-3 for the season and allow them to reach double-digits for the fifth time in seven years under head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

"I think it's a big difference when you talk about credibility and about programs," Mendenhall said. "When you can win 10 and win 10 consistently, that's hard to do. Nine wins isn't easy, nor is eight, but 10 is difficult. I think any coach you ask, if there is a team that wins 10 games consistently, it's one of the best in the country."

Although the Cougars reached that benchmark in 2006-09, this might be the most important year for the team from Provo to reach that level again.

"I think it's big," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. "To have 10 wins this year, if we can win this game against Tulsa, would mean an awful lot. It means a lot for this year for what we've accomplished in our first years of independence.

"It was a little unusual. We played a crazy lot of road trips. We traveled a lot of miles. We didn't have a conference. We lost a couple games that were tough. But we ended up with a great win streak. Now we have a chance to get 10 games. That will bode well for now and the future so there's a lot riding on this game."

Because the Cougars made such an unusual move in electing to become in independent football program, it's important for them to stay on the national radar.

"One of the things we talked about when we went independent, if you're not good as an independent, it really doesn't matter," Holmoe explained.

"You've got to be able to stand out as an independent. There's only four schools that are. You all know if an independent team has a tough season, you kind of get forgotten. You can become irrelevant very quickly."

With BYU flirting with Top 25 status (unofficially No. 26 in the USA Today poll and and No. 29 in the Associated Press poll), a bowl win could easily move the Cougars into those rankings. At least five of the teams currently ranked will also be be looking for Win No. 10.

"There will probably be 15 teams that will win 10 or more games and there are 120 teams," said BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. "That's how hard it is to do. We recognize that is a significant mark but most importantly that is the next game."

Competitors always want to win but a chance for more national attention provides an extra bit of incentive.

"We want to get to 10 wins," Doman said. "The kids are motivated and are practicing hard. It's important to us."

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or at jlloyd@heraldextra.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.

Copyright 2015 Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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