September 16, 2014

Taysom Hill continues to do it all for unbeaten BYU, which is enjoying its best start in six seasons.

Virginia, which defeated BYU for one of its only two wins in 2013, could wind up being one of this year's biggest surprises if its latest result is any indication.

The No. 21 Cougars try to open 4-0 on Saturday and avenge last season's loss to the Cavaliers, who visit Provo looking to knock off their second ranked opponent in as many weeks.

BYU is averaging 36.3 points after holding on to beat Houston 33-25 last Thursday. Hill completed 21 of 34 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, adding another 160 yards and a score on the ground.

"My mindset is, whatever it takes," said Hill, who's already run for 356 yards and six TDs, tied for third-most in the country.

Jamaal Williams also found room to run, rushing for 139 yards and two touchdowns. BYU has outgained opponents 776-163 on the ground in winning its first three games for the first time since opening 6-0 in 2008.

"We are most effective when we mix the run with the pass," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I love the physical nature, I love knocking people off and the grind, the grit and determination. I also like the ball going over, around and through the air as much as possible."

However, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Cougars, who had 11 penalties for 98 yards and committed three turnovers.

"Each week it becomes more and more evident how important it is to take care of the ball," Mendenhall said. "But I still want us to play really aggressive and really hard. I like the way our team is playing in a lot of areas, especially how tough and physical they're being."

The Cougars will try to keep rolling against Virginia (2-1), which is 3-1 in the series after pulling out a 19-16 home victory last Aug. 31. Williams ran for 144 yards but Hill was 13 of 40 passing for the worst single-game completion percentage of his career.

"I really like that they're coming to Provo and I really like that it's this early in the season," Mendenhall said of Virginia. "It's another chance to continue to show what our program is about.

"They're fast, athletic and tough and they certainly gave us all we could handle a year ago and most of them are still there."

The Cavaliers matched last season's win total with last Saturday's 23-21 victory over then-No. 21 Louisville. Greyson Lambert threw for 162 yards and a touchdown and Ian Frye kicked the go-ahead 42-yard field goal with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter after the Cardinals fumbled a punt.

''It was magical,'' senior co-captain Henry Coley said as Virginia snapped an 11-game losing streak against FBS-level competition since the win over BYU. "This is one of the most emotional games I've ever had. I'm in the locker room crying after the game. ... I've never cried over a football game. It was emotional because it was something big lifted off my shoulders."

While the Cavaliers had plenty to celebrate, they quickly turned their attention to BYU. Coley reached out to coach Mike London to set up a players-only meeting ahead of Saturday's rematch.

"We just gotta stay hungry," receiver Canaan Severin told the school's official website. "Henry just wanted to get that point across: You can't be satisfied just by getting that big win. We want more wins than that.

"We can talk about the win for the whole week, or we can prepare for BYU, and that's what we did."

The Cavaliers, who fell 28-20 to then-No. 7 UCLA in their season opener before beating Richmond 45-13 on Sept. 6, haven't won three in a row since a four-game run Oct. 27-Nov. 19, 2011.

Prior to beating Louisville, Virginia had been outscored by an average of 32.8 points in dropping five straight against Top 25 foes.

This marks the Cavaliers' first road game against a ranked opponent since 2012. They have been limited to an average of 13.4 points in dropping 18 of 21 such games dating to 2000.

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