<
>

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."