Top 10 defense powering BYU as rivalry game nears

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Mention some of BYU’s greatest teams, and star quarterbacks come to mind -- Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer.

Yet even with so much focus on the QBs again during rivalry week, what with Riley Nelson playing well and Jordan Wynn’s abrupt retirement from the Utes, the Cougars defense could steal the headlines. It certainly is the biggest reason No. 25 BYU has climbed into The Associated Press rankings for the first time since 2009.

BYU (2-0) enters Saturday night’s game against Utah (1-1) ranked 10th nationally in total defense, allowing 239 yards per game. That included holding Mike Leach’s vaunted Air Raid attack without a touchdown in the opener against Washington State, and limiting the Big Sky’s Weber State to 85 yards total offense in the first half before the Cougars began substituting liberally in the blowout win.