Bronco’s return central to No. 25 BYU, Virginia clash

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Bronco’s back.

The only storyline this week in Provo, Utah, is the return of former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall as he leads Virginia against the No. 25 Cougars in nonconference action Saturday night.

Both programs became bowl eligible with hard-fought wins last Saturday.

The Cougars (6-2) climbed back into the Top 25 with a 21-19 win at Washington State, making them eligible for postseason play for the fifth time in six seasons under coach Kalani Sitake.

Sitake took over in 2016 after Mendenhall went to Virginia, where his Cavaliers (6-2) are eligible for a bowl for the fifth consecutive campaign (they declined amid the pandemic last season) after a 48-40 defeat of Georgia Tech.

Mendenhall was 99-43 with five 10-win seasons and 11 bowl appearances at BYU from 2005-15. He told reporters Monday he didn’t know what kind of welcome to expect when he makes his long-awaited homecoming.

“You know, I don’t have expectations. It is a weird space, because we are arriving to play a football game, and I am charged with helping my current team,” he said. “So yeah, to expect or want more than that, I don’t. That is not a controllable thing, and to make more of that, or spend more time or energy or effort into that is not (productive).”

Sitake said Mendenhall deserves a warm reception at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“I have tons of respect for Bronco Mendenhall and what he did here at BYU and the type of man he is, the leader he is,” Sitake said. “He produces great people in his football programs. It has been a pleasure for me to be here and to take over as a new head coach in a program that he established and laid the foundation at. He was able to do some really great things here, and we have a deep appreciation and gratitude for him.”

The Cavaliers have won four in a row. Brennan Armstrong, the NCAA leader in passing yards (3,220), passed for 396 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 99 yards and two scores in the win against Georgia Tech. UVA leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally with 539.9 yards of offense per game.

The Cougars snapped a two-game slide with the win at Washington State. Tyler Allgeier ran for 191 yards and two TDs and ranks seventh in the FBS in rushing yards (861) and tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns (11). BYU is 12-1 when he rushes for at least 80 yards.

–Field Level Media

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