Cal, BYU talk focus before Las Vegas Bowl
LAS VEGAS -- Coaches and players from California and Brigham Young had their game faces on despite the showgirls at a casino sports bar Thursday, telling the media that as long as distractions don't get in the way their Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl matchup should be a good one.
"We know it will take our best game," said BYU quarterback John Beck, a junior who led the Mountain West Conference in passing while guiding the Cougars to a 6-5 overall record and a 5-3 second-place conference finish. "It's going to be a great bowl game."
Cal coach Jeff Tedford conceded it will be a challenge to remain focused on the Dec. 22 game during a week of activities scheduled to include banquets, goodwill hospital visits, pep rallies and a shopping spree for coaches' and players' families. Not to mention the Las Vegas Strip.
"Bowl games are meant to be fun," said Tedford, whose Golden Bears finished fourth in the Pac-10 with a 4-4 record, 7-4 overall. "But at one point you have to get down to preparation."
Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall said he planned to rely on the maturity of his players -- including 29 seniors, 32 married players and 62 who have completed Mormon missions -- as well as a boost from BYU fans expected to make the 340-mile trip from Provo, Utah.
"There will be a sea of blue," he said, expecting at least 22,000 Cougar fans at the game.
Tina Kunzer-Murphy, bowl executive director for Pioneer Electronics, said just 1,500 tickets remained unsold two weeks before the game and predicted a sellout at 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium. Last year, almost 28,000 saw Wyoming upset UCLA 24-21.
Mendenhall, in his first year as coach, noted it will be the 24th bowl appearance for BYU, whose last bowl appearance was a 28-10 loss to Louisville in the 2001 Liberty Bowl.
Cal will be making a third straight bowl appearance after losing 45-31 to Texas Tech in the 2004 Holiday Bowl. It will be the 16th bowl game for the Golden Bears since 1920.
Neither Tedford nor Mendenhall gave away game secrets during their meet-the-media event at the ESPN Zone bar at the New York-New York hotel casino.
Marvin Philip, a Cal senior All-American and one of six finalists for an award given to the top center in the country, also stuck to basic "honor-and-a-privilege" comments.
"It's exciting," he said of the game. "We're thrilled to be here in Las Vegas to participate in this bowl game against BYU. This will be a great game."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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