Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl


BYU 28

(6-6, 3-3 away)

(25) California 35

(8-4, 5-2 home)

Coverage: ESPN

8:00 PM ET, December 22, 2005

Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV

1 2 3 4 T
BYU 0 14 0 1428
#25CAL 7 14 14 035

Top Performers

Passing: J. Beck (BYU) - 352 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: M. Lynch (CAL) - 24 CAR, 194 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: D. Jackson (CAL) - 6 REC, 130 YDS, 2 TD

Revitalized BYU to square off with revamped Cal

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The strait-laced Brigham Young football team has made itself right at home in Sin City, and the school's new athletic director has mixed feelings.

Not about the blackjack tables, the showgirls and the buffet eating contest -- Tom Holmoe knows his school's players can handle any temptation in the days leading up to the Las Vegas Bowl. Instead, Holmoe must fight his natural instinct to support the few remaining players he recruited to California, the Cougars' opponent on Thursday night.

Holmoe led the Golden Bears through five difficult season as their head coach before moving to BYU, where first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall has revitalized the Cougars (6-5) with a turnaround similar to the job done by Jeff Tedford after Holmoe left in 2002.

Holmoe said he'll always have good feelings toward Cal -- just not this week.

"We're all kind of laughing that it turned out this way," said senior Cal center Marvin Philip, a member of Holmoe's talent-rich recruiting classes that just couldn't win on Saturdays "He's still an important guy to a lot of our seniors, but hopefully we can show him what Cal is about now."

Holmoe's 12-43 tenure was a half-decade of disaster for the Bears, who were even banned from postseason play in Tedford's first season because of minor NCAA violations committed on Holmoe's watch. These Bears (7-4) are hoping to finish Tedford's fourth season in charge with his second bowl victory in three trips.

But they'll have to do it in what's essentially a road game. Most of the Las Vegas Bowl's first sellout crowd in its 14-year history at Sam Boyd Stadium is expected to come from Provo -- about 360 miles north -- and southern Nevada's large Mormon population to support the Cougars.

"Every time we come down here, it's like a home game," BYU linebacker Cameron Jensen said. "It's great just being out here still playing football with your best friends. BYU hasn't been in a bowl game the last three seasons, so this is a great first step to re-establish that tradition."

While BYU reached the postseason with five wins in six games before a regular season-ending loss to archrival Utah, the Bears essentially backed into a bowl after a 5-0 start. Cal lost four of five games before trouncing its own archrival, Stanford, in a season-saving victory.

"We're at the bowl we deserve with our record, but not where our potential is," said rover Donnie McCleskey, Cal's defensive MVP. "But half of the Pac-10 is sitting at home, preparing for next year. We're grateful to be in Vegas, and we're looking forward to coming out in an enemy stadium. Those are my favorite types of games, anyway."

Cal doesn't believe its late-season inertia will be a factor in Las Vegas, particularly after a series of solid practices at UNLV's training complex. The Bears defense needs all the practice it can get to contend with a BYU spread offense that's similar to the Texas Tech attack that racked up 597 yards in last season's Holiday Bowl win over Cal.

Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl Preview

SportsNation feels strongly that BYU holds the edge on offense, and even stronger that Cal holds the defensive edge. But offense wins out, according to the 'Nation, as the majority have the Cougars winning this one. (Vote) They also expect the game to be won on the ground, with Cal's Marshawn Lynch and BYU's Curtis Brown leading the way.

Mendenhall, whose public calm is similar to Tedford's, will throw every trick in his Mountain West Conference playbook at Tedford and Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory. The Bears haven't seen anything like the Cougars this season, from their 3-3-5 defense to their wide-open offense setting up running back Curtis Brown.

"It was important for us just to get back in the bowl business, but now I think we want more," Mendenhall said. "I still see this as the beginning of the road, and not the end of anything in our development."

Tedford might be interested in professional redemption after acknowledging his team wasn't properly focused for the Holiday Bowl after Texas finagled its way past the Bears into the Rose Bowl.

"We practiced very well for that game, but I wasn't aware of the hangover from the BCS thing until the night before the game," Tedford said. "This year, we've told everybody that the game on Thursday is the only thing that matters. That's where you get a chance to make a stand."

Steve Levy will make his second career start at quarterback for Tedford after coolly leading Cal past Stanford. The junior replaced slumping Joe Ayoob and hopes to spend much of the day handing off to tailbacks Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett.

But the Cougars hope to answer with John Beck, who finished fifth in the nation with 3,357 yards passing.

"It comes down to asking, 'Why are we here?"' Beck said. "We worked hard all season to get here to play a game, and not for the lights and all the casinos, but to win this game."


Passing Leaders

C. Stewart57.22621259
T. Hill66.797573
J. Goff62.13973357
L. Rubenzer57.116623

Rushing Leaders

J. Williams1095184.84
T. Hill874605.38
D. Lasco21011155.312
K. Muhammad462154.74

Receiving Leaders

M. Mathews7392212.69
J. Leslie5577914.26
K. Lawler5470113.09
S. Anderson4666114.45