| | Is California Maybe Too Big a Favorite Against BYU Tonight?
BYU is back in a bowl game under first year head coach Bronco Mendenhall and it is in a game not too far away, in Las Vegas of all places.
BYU comes into the game at 6-5 while Cal is 7-4. What many people do not realize is that although the game is in Las Vegas, it may as well be a home game for BYU. The Las Vegas Bowl is expecting its first sellout crowd in its 14 year history at Sam Boyd Stadium and most of that contingent is going to be cheering for BYU. The Cougars have a large traveling crowd and in addition Las Vegas has a large Mormon population that supports BYU.
"Every time we come down here, it's like a home game," BYU linebacker Cameron Jensen said. "It's great just being out here still playing football with your best friends. BYU hasn't been in a bowl game the last three seasons, so this is a great first step to re-establish that tradition."
While BYU reached the postseason with five wins in six games before a regular season-ending loss to archrival Utah, the Bears essentially backed into a bowl after a 5-0 start. Cal lost four of five games before trouncing its own archrival, Stanford, in a season-saving victory.
"We're at the bowl we deserve with our record, but not where our potential is," said rover Donnie McCleskey, Cal's defensive MVP. "But half of the Pac-10 is sitting at home, preparing for next year. We're grateful to be in Vegas, and we're looking forward to coming out in an enemy stadium. Those are my favorite types of games, anyway."
The Bears haven't seen anything like the Cougars this season, from their 3-3-5 defense to their wide-open offense setting up running back Curtis Brown. "It was important for us just to get back in the bowl business, but now I think we want more," Mendenhall said. "I still see this as the beginning of the road, and not the end of anything in our development."
Steve Levy will make his second career start at quarterback for California while BYU has John Beck who finished 5th in the nation in pasting with 3,357 yards.
So if you like BYU tonight, the TD or so looks very inviting.