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BYU accepts invitation to Las Vegas Bowl

BYU accepts invitation to Las Vegas Bowl

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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PROVO — Pack your bags for Sin City, BYU fans.

The Cougars are headed to the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, the school's athletic department has confirmed.

BYU confirmed its participation in the bowl game in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

"We are happy to accept the invitation to play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and are looking forward to the opportunity to match up against a Pac-12 opponent," head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a statement. "I am proud of this team and what we have accomplished this year. We are excited to build on that success by striving to achieve our 10th win of the season, while playing in a bowl game for an 11th straight year."

The bid was first reported by ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.

BYU will play in Las Vegas Bowl, source told @ESPN. Means BYU will play in Hawaii Bowl in 2019 if bowl eligible — Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 2, 2015

Las Vegas Bowl executive director John Saccenti extended the invitation to the Cougars on Wednesday afternoon, and the school readily accepted it.

"We are excited to be returning to Las Vegas to play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. "BYU has a great history and relationship with Las Vegas. They have been very good to us over the years. Our team and Cougar Nation are grateful to once again be part of this great bowl tradition."

ESPN owns the rights to the Las Vegas Bowl, and BYU had a contract with the bowl entity as well as a separate contract with the Hawaii Bowl that would send the Cougars to one bowl in 2015 and the other in 2019.

BYU's inclusion in the Las Vegas Bowl this season means the Cougars will play in Hawaii in 2019, assuming they are bowl eligible and do not receive an invitation to a higher-profile game such as a New Year's Six bowl or a spot in the College Football Playoff.

On Tuesday night, BYU's ticket office inadvertently released a page detailing tickets for the Las Vegas Bowl. The mistake was quickly corrected and the page taken down — but some Cougar fans had already purchased tickets for the event.

BYU bowl clarification... pic.twitter.com/4BTOqwp4po — #GoCougs (@BYUCougars) December 2, 2015

BYU's opponent is yet unknown, but it will likely be a team from the Pac-12 Conference. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said on a conference call with reporters Monday that the conference would "likely" vacate the Las Vegas Bowl this season, leading many to speculate that the Cougars were bound for Las Vegas.

Potential Las Vegas Bowl participants from the Pac-12 include Cal, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Utah. The bowl owns the rights to the sixth selection from the Pac-12.

BYU's participation in the Las Vegas Bowl likely means good things for the draw for the bowl committee. The Cougars currently hold the record for largest crowd at a postseason bowl game in Las Vegas, drawing 44,615 to the 2006 win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.

That record also stands as the largest crowd to witness a team sporting event in the state of Nevada. The Cougars are 3-2 all-time in Las Vegas.

Kickoff for the 24th edition of the Las Vegas Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 12:30 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast on ABC.

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