BYU will play in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas for the fifth consecutive season in what will be the first matchup between ranked teams in Las Vegas. The Cougars hope this year is better than the last. Last season, the Cougars lost 31-21 to Arizona and gave an uninspired effort. This year, the Cougars face an Oregon State team that was a win away from the Rose Bowl and should present some speed challenges for the BYU defensive front.
WHO TO WATCH: Max Hall, QB, BYU
All season the Cougars have been as good as quarterback Max Hall and it will be no different in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Hall should have some success against an Oregon State secondary that is allowing 238.67 yards per game. However, the Beavers stiffened against the pass late in the season. They did not allow more than 201 yards in any of the final four games of the season.
WHAT TO WATCH: The front seven
BYU’s defense has been criticized for its lack of speed and it will be tested against Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who ranks 17th in the country with 114.75 yards per game. Rodgers might be the smallest back the Cougars have faced this season and he’ll be tough for BYU’s bulky interior to find and keep up with.
WHY TO WATCH: BYU has thrilled before
The Cougars have a flair for the dramatic. In the first game of the season, they upset Oklahoma at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. At the end of the regular season, they defeated Utah in an overtime thriller. Since this is the only game outside of the BCS bowls with two teams ranked in the top 20, it promises to be yet another late-game thriller.
PREDICTION: Oregon State is going to bring more speed than BYU has seen most of this year and that’s going to be a problem for the Cougars defense. The Beavers combine a talented running game with a decent passing game and that will keep BYU off guard. While this will basically be a home game for the Cougars, I think Oregon State takes it 35-24.