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September 22, 2014

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Columnist Ron Kantowski: On the ABCs of Las Vegas Bowl Games

Ron Kantowski's column appears on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at [email protected] or (702) 259-4088.

With Brigham Young and Cal set to make history tonight at sold-out (say what?) Sam Boyd Stadium, it's a red-letter day in the Las Vegas Bowl's semilong and semisuccessful existence.

Actually, the color of the letters is irrelevant. But here's 26 of them to mull over while you're sitting in traffic on the way to the game.

A is for ACC and Aztecs. They collided in Las Vegas Bowl VII, when North Carolina beat San Diego State 20-13.

B is for Brigham Young, whose loyal fans will fill the stadium Thursday. But not the beer lines.

C is for Carson as in Carson Palmer, the USC quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 2002. But in 2001, he didn't get a bowling trophy from the Utah defense, which shut him down during a 10-6 victory in Las Vegas Bowl X.

D is for Ducks ... and cover. Oregon defeated Air Force 41-13 in Las Vegas Bowl VI, easily covering the point spread.

E is for empty, which the seats sometimes are. But not this year.

F is for Falcons, as in Bowling Green, Air Force and Atlanta, two of which have appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl.

G is for Golden Bears, whose fans will be easy to spot tonight. You know the ones with Sprite in their flasks? Cal's will be the other ones.

H is for Hogs. Woo! Pig! Lose-y! Despite being heavily favored, the Razorbacks got porked by hometown UNLV in Las Vegas Bowl IX.

I is for Las Vegas Bowl I. Bowling Green edged the team up north, Nevada-Reno, in a 35-34 thriller voted one of the best bowl games of the season by the Los Angeles Times and ESPN.

J is for Jackson as in Steven Jackson, the former Eldorado High star, who ran over New Mexico in Las Vegas Bowl XII and kept right on going to the NFL.

K is for Katie as in Katie Hnida, the New Mexico kicker who became the first female to appear in a bowl game when her extra-point attempt against UCLA was blocked in Las Vegas Bowl XI.

L is for Lobos. New Mexico appeared in back-to-back Las Vegas Bowls in 2002 and 2003, bringing lots of fans but not enough players to beat UCLA or Oregon State.

M is for Mountain West, the conference that supplies the underdog to the Las Vegas Bowl.

N is for Nevada-Reno, the team up north, which has appeared in three Las Vegas Bowls.

O is for overtime. The first Division I-A overtime game in history took place at Las Vegas Bowl IV, when Toledo outlasted Nevada-Reno 40-37.

P is for Pac-10, the conference that supplies the favorite to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Q is for Quack, the sound all those Oregon fans made during Las Vegas Bowl VI.

R is for Reb-els ... Reb-els ... Reb-els. That was the cheer that filled the chilly night during Las Vegas Bowl IX when UNLV turned Arkansas into pork rinds.

S is for sellout, which is what tonight's BYU-Cal game is. And here you thought Flutie-to-Phelan was hard to believe.

T is for Tina as in Kunzer-Murphy, the hardest-working woman in the bowl game executive director business. Of course, she's the only woman in the bowl game executive director business. But she still works hard.

U is for upset, as in Wyoming 24, UCLA 21 in Las Vegas Bowl XIII.

V is for Las Vegas Bowl V. Nevada-Reno 18, Ball State 15. If you say you were there, you're probably a liar. Only 10,118 were on hand.

W is for Wyoming and some of the best fans you'll find anywhere. Last year, the Cowboy football team even gave them something to cheer about by rallying to beat UCLA.

X is for X-mas and X-mas Eve, days on which the game used to be played. Thanks for the lump of coal, ESPN.

Y is for "The Y," the big letter by which BYU is known. Y? Because we like you. (And because we also had a lot of tickets to sell.)

Z could have been for Zips, as in the Akron Zips. But they never made it when the Las Vegas Bowl was affiliated with the MAC. So Z is for Zzyzx Road, the off-ramp on Interstate 15 North where UCLA apparently left its game plan last year.

So now that I've learned my Las Vegas Bowl ABCs, what do you really think of me?

Upon further review, hold that thought.

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