Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona (7-5) vs. BYU (10-2)

December, 7, 2008
12/07/08
8:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Based on the records, this looks like a mismatch. But is it?

BYU, winners of three consecutive Las Vegas Bowls, started the season talking about perfection and a BCS bowl berth and rolled to a 6-0 start. But the Cougars fell well short in their two biggest games, getting drubbed by 25 and 24 points at TCU and Utah.

On the other hand, the Wildcats and Cougars have three common opponents: New Mexico, Washington and UCLA. BYU beat all three, while Arizona lost to New Mexico. Both blew out UCLA, though the Cougars' 59-0 drubbing of the Bruins was one of the season's most shocking thrashings.

Arizona manhandled Washington, but the Huskies were playing their first game without quarterback Jake Locker. BYU slipped by the Huskies, 28-27, when Locker, you may recall, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for flipping the ball into the air after scoring what appeared to be a last-second, game-tying touchdown, pending the PAT, which was subsequently missed after an extra 15 yards was tacked on.

BYU's defense struggled over the second half of the season, giving up 32 or more points in four of its last six games. The BYU offense leans on quarterback Max Hall, who has thrown 60 touchdown passes over the past two seasons, finding receiver Austin Collie and tight end Dennis Pitta, but the Wildcats' defense probably should be just as worried about running back Harvey Unga. The Wildcats, who lost 20-7 to BYU in 2007, have struggled against power backs, and the 239-pound Unga, who's rushed for 1,061 yards and 10 TDs, certainly fits that bill.

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