A new title sponsor brought about a name change to "MAACO Bowl - Las Vegas" in April. The game was a sellout by December 10, just 4 days after it was announced that BYU would be making a fifth straight appearance and would be facing a strong PAC-10 team in Oregon State.
Fifteen of BYU's 28 bowl trips have been to either the Holiday Bowl or this game.
This is Oregon State's second trip to this game, but first since 2003.
It's the first time the Beavers and Cougars have met on the gridiron since 1986. Overall, the teams have met eight times and the Beavers hold a 5-3 advantage. BYU's last win over Oregon State was in 1978, but that was only two meetings ago.
Oregon State is on a 5-win bowl streak and is 8-4 overall in the postseason. BYU has won 2 of its last 3 bowl games, but only 4 of its last 14.
The Beavers are favored by one of the computer's slimmest lines this bowl season - a mere 0.43 points. Only the Rose Bowl has a smaller forecasted margin and, ironically, that game involves Oregon as a 0.27-point underdog.
The "computer" is the Congrove Computer Rankings which predicted Oregon State would go 9-3 overall, 6-3 in the PAC-10. It pegged the Beavers' conference mark and missed by just one its overall record as the Beavers finished 8-4.
The Beavers were one win away from securing their first Rose Bowl bid since the 1964 season, but lost to 37-33 at rival Oregon in the finale.
The computer's preseason forecast nailed BYU's records of 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the Mountain West. The Cougars' only conference loss was a 38-7 drubbing at home to TCU. BYU was also routed 54-28 at home by Florida State in a non-conference game.
BYU's first and final games were its two closest contests of the year. The Cougars opened with a 14-13 upset of Oklahoma at Arlington, Texas. They closed with a 26-23 overtime win over rival Utah.
Oregon State was just 4-3 after seven games with losses to Cincinnati, Arizona, Stanford and USC by 10 points or less. The Beavers then knocked off UCLA, Cal, Washington and Washington State to climb back toward the top of the conference leaderboard.
Both of these teams were nearly twice as successful through the air than on the ground. Oregon State passed for 3,303 yards and ran for 1,730. BYU threw for 3,465 yards and ran for 1,778.
BYU features QB Max Hall and one of the nation's best tight ends in Dennis Pitta. Hall completed 67.5% of his throws for 3,368 yards and 14 TD's to rank 3rd in the nation in passer rating, but his 14 INT's were more than 94 other FBS quarterbacks. Pitta had 766 yards and 7 TD's. His 56 catches were twice the number of the teams' next-leading receiver. Tight End Andrew George caught 26 passes for 362 yards and 5 TD's.
Harvey Unga is a 237-pound running back who topped the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. After a 116-yard, 1 TD performance against Utah, Unga heads to Las Vegas with 1,016 yards and 10 TD's. However, the score in the Utah game was his first since week 7.
BYU punted the ball just 38 times all year to tie for the nation's 4th-lowest total.
The Beavers offense is highlighted by the Rodgers' brothers, Jacquizz and James. 'Quizz, a sophomore running back, rolled up 1,377 yards and 20 TD's to add to his 1,253 yards and 12 scores in 2008. James, a junior receiver posted career highs in receptions (81), touchdowns (9) and yards (1,004).
Oregon State QB Sean Canfield ranks 4th nationally with a 70% pass completion rate. His 21 touchdown throws ties Jake Locker of Washington for the PAC-10 lead.
Both squads are vulnerable defensively, especially against the pass. The Cougars rank 65th nationally in stopping the opposition's air attack, and the Beavers are farther down the list at No. 87. BYU ranks 23rd at stopping the run while the Beavers rank 25th.