11-2, 5-2 Away
7-6, 5-2 Home

BYU spanks Oregon for first bowl win since '96 season

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Brigham Young quarterback John Beck stood on the podium above a throng of blue-clad fans so dense the green field below them was barely visible.

After five years of frustration and a decade of postseason futility, BYU finally had something to celebrate.

Beck passed for 375 yards and two touchdowns, leading the No. 19 Cougars to a 38-8 victory over Oregon on Thursday night in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl.

"To be able to be on top right now just feels great. This is where you're supposed to be," the senior said.

"When you step on campus and you dream, you dream about this. You dream about being conference champions. You dream about being bowl champions. Our dream has been fulfilled."


BYU (11-2) closed the season with 10 straight victories, capping the streak with its first bowl win since the 1996 season.

Beck was 28-for-46 with two interceptions, and got plenty of help. Curtis Brown ran for 120 yards and two TDs, Jonny Harline, voted game MVP, caught nine passes for 181 yards and Justin Robinson intercepted two passes for BYU, which shut out the Ducks (7-6) through three quarters.

Beck, Brown, Harline and Robinson were all playing their final game for the Cougars.

"This class has always been a class of dreamers," Beck said.

BYU hadn't had a winning season since going 12-2 in 2001.

Oregon lost its fourth in a row and was never close after BYU scored 17 points in the second quarter. The Ducks had just 120 yards of offense through three quarters and didn't score until Brian Paysinger caught a 47-yard pass from Dennis Dixon with 10:27 left in the game. The Ducks added a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 31-8.

If Oregon was thinking about a miracle comeback, it didn't last long.

BYU recovered the ensuing onside kick and scored 1:13 later on a 17-yard pass from Beck to Manase Tonga. Beck also ran for a 13-yard score that put BYU ahead 31-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Cougars fans who packed Sam Boyd Stadium with a record crowd of 44,615 stormed the field after the final play in celebration of the BYU blowout.

The Cougars had lost four straight bowl games since beating Kansas State 19-15 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1997.

Oregon tried rotating quarterbacks again with Brady Leaf making his second career start and the quicker Dixon coming in to give the BYU defense a different look. It didn't work.

The Ducks allowed two sacks on their first series and Leaf and Dixon combined to throw for 166 yards. Both threw an interception and Oregon finished with 260 yards and lost its fourth straight bowl.

"I'm disappointed. I'm shocked," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "We didn't play well. We got outplayed, outcoached."

It was the largest crowd in stadium history, breaking the previous high of 42,075 fans for UNLV's game against Wisconsin in 2002, and the fans were nearly all wearing BYU dark blue. During the postgame trophy presentation, they chanted "B-Y-U!"

Beck, the second-leading passer in school history, stood on the podium with Brown -- BYU's all-time leading rusher -- and led the fans in the BYU fight song.

"I couldn't think of a more fitting ending," said coach Bronco Mendenhall, who has turned around BYU in just two seasons since taking over after Gary Crowton's resignation in 2004.

Crowton, now Oregon's offensive coordinator, witnessed many of the players he brought to Provo playing like the BYU greats of the past.

"This is the next step in our evolution to being a great program," Mendenhall said.

Beck started slowly and had four passes dropped. He started focusing more on Harline and it paid off with a field goal and two touchdowns in the second quarter.

"When you give him time, he's a very good QB," Bellotti said. "Beck found his receivers. He made the plays."

Beck and Harline connected on a 41-yard pass in the second quarter that put BYU ahead 17-0, then Brown scored on a 4-yard run just before halftime and BYU led 24-0.

Harline's one-handed grab for 18 yards helped set up the game's first touchdown.

"I try not to count how many yards and catches I have," he said. "I don't know what to expect. You never know when the ball is coming your way."