As a coach, if you aren't going to make a BCS bowl game, what's better than a trip to Vegas? This year, the question can be asked to Oregon and BYU, as they will meet in the Pioneer Purevision Las Vegas Bowl on December 21st. It will be the second straight trip for the Cougars to the West's version of the City that Never Sleeps. BYU fell to Cal, 35-28 a year ago and are looking to break a four bowl game losing streak. The Cougars are in a stretch that has seen them go 3-11-1 in their last 15 bowl games.
BYU will see a familiar face on the Ducks' sideline, as former head coach Gary Crowton is the offensive coordinator in Eugene. Crowton resigned from BYU after catching criticism from many about not believing in the principles that BYU stands for. Donit think that Cougars fans forget the scandals that led to Crowton's departure.
Aside from that storyline, it should be quite a battle. BYU finished the season ranked No. 19 in the nation, going 10-2 overall. One of those losses was a tough 23-20 loss at Boston College in the third week of the year, in a game that was controlled by the Cougars. But since then, they have reeled off eight straight wins, and current head coach Bronco Mendenhall is a finalist for National Coach of the Year.
BYU puts up over 35 points per game and has an offense that averages 458.6 yards. Quarterback John Beck has been superb this season, throwing for over 319 yards per game and 30 touchdowns. Beck has only thrown six interceptions. If those numbers don't knock you out of your chair, how about his completion percentage sitting at 70.4-percent. Johnny Harline has been his go-to guy when it comes to touchdowns, bringing in 11 on the season, while running back Curtis Brown leads the team with 55 receptions.
Oregon was a national title contender this season, including picking up a win over Oklahoma in a while finish earlier in the year. But things cooled off, including a loss to in-state rival Oregon State. One of the most interesting things to watch for on the Ducks' side will be which uniform they come out in. With hundreds of different combinations of the Yellow and Green, it will certainly be interesting to see which Nike uniform they come out in.
When it comes to stats, Dennis Dixon has stepped in at QB and has struggled at times, throwing 13 INT's and 11 TD's, not the ratio one wants in their quarterback. However, Dixon has completed 61 percent of his passes and thrown for over 2,000 yards. Jaison
Williams has been by far the best receiver, averaging 89.5 yards per game and making six TD catches.
It will be a Pac-10-MWC battle in Vegas, and we'll see if Oregon is truly happy to be there after having much higher aspirations heading into this season. If BYU puts up its normal offensive output, Oregon may not have the same type of guns to keep up.
Doug Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.