Battle of the Black (and Orange) and Blue



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Combatants took to the podium this morning in Las Vegas, but this was no boxing match-type buildup; rather, it was a cordial and casual Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Kickoff Press Conference. BYU was represented by head coach Bronco Mendenhall, LB Matt Bauman and TE Dennis Pitta, while speaking for Oregon State were head coach Mike Riley, LB Keaton Kristick and QB Sean Canfield.

You can hear the entire press conference and separate interviews with all three OSU reps, plus Dennis Pitta, by clicking on their respective audio links in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the lower right.

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Not a lot of news was made this morning, but in contrast to Oregon coach Mike Belotti's pronouncements of BYU/Mountain West unworthiness in 2006, Oregon State head coach Mike Riley and his players stated that BYU and Utah are two teams "who could play in our league; good football programs." Asked about potential Pac-10 expansion and the possibility of BYU/Utah as targets, Riley said "football-wise," those two schools would "fit very well; they look to me like good fits." He added that he "doesn't know anything about what's going to happen, expansion-wise."

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Riley called BYU's tight end tandem of Dennis Pitta and Andrew George "as good as we've seen." He noted that BYU's implementation of tight ends and backs in the passing game has been studied by his team "for our purposes, to use...(and) idealize."

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Relative to recruiting, Riley said his team has "moved into parts of Utah...with a connection," suiting up two Polynesian players (DLs Stephen Paea and Sioeli Nau) who played both high school and junior college football in Utah.

Oregon State has more than a dozen players of Polynesian descent on the team, with Riley noting that due to Corvallis' small-town feel, and his team's own family-oriented approach, the Polynesian players and their culture "add tremendous impact" to the local notion of family and loyalty.

He says Polynesians bring "a passion to our football game itself that is special." Riley says the number of Polynesians on the team "has been a big, big deal."

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Bowl bits:

BYU has been to 26 bowls in the last 32 years. Only six schools have been to more bowls in that time (Michigan/Nebraska/Florida State-30, Ohio State-29, Tennessee/Georgia-27).

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In four bowl games under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU has scored a combined total of three first quarter points. This year's OSU team has outscored opponents 105-34 in the first quarter.

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Trivia Question: BYU has participated in three now-defunct bowl games; can you name them?

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Bronco Mendenhall is 3-7 in ten games versus ranked teams. The Las Vegas Bowl is one of only four non-BCS bowl games featuring two ranked teams.

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Only one BYU QB won more than one bowl game: Jim McMahon (1980 and 1981). Max Hall would be the second Cougar signal-caller to record two bowl victories.

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Bronco Mendenhall is one of only five active coaches who have taken their teams to bowl games in every year they've coached (minimum: five bowl games). The coaches are Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mark Richt (Georgia), Pete Carroll (USC), and Kyle Whittingham (Utah).

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Trivia Answer: Freedom, All-American and Aloha (the Tangerine Bowl was later renamed the Citrus Bowl; the Copper Bowl was later renamed the Insight Bowl).

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BYU has appeared in 11 different bowl games (Holiday, Las Vegas, Tangerine/Citrus, Freedom, Liberty, Fiesta, All-American, Aloha, Copper, Cotton and Motor City). Georgia Tech owns the record with appearances in 18 different bowl games.

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