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BYU wins 2009 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas in dominating fashion

Hall throws for three touchdowns

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Justin M. Bowen

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall and quarterback Max Hall celebrate their 44-20 win over Oregon St. in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Tuesday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 | 8:40 p.m.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

MVP Max Hall threw for 192 yards and three touchdowns as BYU wins its third Las Vegas Bowl in five years beating Oregon State 44-20.

Las Vegas Bowl-BYU vs OSU

Max Hall (left) and Manase Tonga celebrate after a BYU touchdown during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Tuesday at Sam Boyd Stadium.  BYU dominated Oregon St. with a 44-20 win. Launch slideshow »

Vegas Bowl Pep Rally

The Oregon State drum line performs at a pep rally on Fremont Street for the Vegas Bowl game between Oregon State and BYU Monday, December 21, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Oregon State Practice

Oregon State linemen practice at UNLV Sunday, December 20, 2009. The Beavers take on BYU Cougars in the Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

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BYU 44, Oregon State 20

What was supposed to be one of the most competitive bowl games of the year turned out to be a rout Tuesday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

BYU easily took care of Oregon State in the 2009 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, 44-20.

The Beavers scored first on the night when Sean Canfield took in a one-yard quarterback sneak. After that, BYU scored 37 straight points and put away Oregon State.

Senior quarterback Max Hall led the Cougars with three touchdown passes and nearly 200 yards. Both of BYU's leading rushers, Harvey Unga and Manase Tonga, scored a rushing touchdown on the night.

It was BYU's third win in the last five years in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Fourth quarter, 12:51 remaining, BYU leads 37-7

Oregon State's streak of winning six straight bowl games is about to come to an end — without much suspense.

BYU scored again on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall to Manase Tonga to take a commanding 37-7 lead against Oregon State. Most of the fourth quarter remains, so look for Oregon State to throw down the field while BYU will keep it on the ground.

Hall now has three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards passing. The touchdown was set up when Oregon State's James Rodgers fumbled a reception in his team's own territory.

Third quarter, 8:00 remaining, BYU leads 30-7

Almost every one of BYU's opponents have double-teamed senior tight end Dennis Pitta this year.

But no one covered Pitta on BYU's last play. Max Hall connected with Pitta on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put BYU ahead 30-7.

Yes, the hits just keep coming for Oregon State. The Beavers tried a fake punt after failing to gain a first down out of halftime. They completed the pass to Lance Mitchell, but he stumbled and fell over.

The Cougars took over already in field goal range and scored a touchdown four minutes later. The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas does not look promising for the Beavers.

Halftime, BYU leads 23-7

Gone with the wind.

That describes Oregon State's performance in the first half of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas pretty accurately. The Beavers couldn't overcome the strong winds at Sam Boyd Stadium or the BYU Cougars and trail 23-7 at halftime.

The wind is blowing at 43 miles per hour, with 55 mph gusts. It's affected the Beavers noticeably three times.

Oregon State had two punts that went six yards because the wind blew them back. The Beavers were also forced to go for a fourth-and-nine play around their own 20 because the wind wouldn't allow a field goal attempt.

The weather, however, has been far from the Beavers only problem. Their defense simply has had no answer for Max Hall and the BYU offense.

Second quarter, 5:00 remaining, BYU 23, Oregon State 7

Oregon State just made its biggest play since scoring in the first quarter.

Too bad it was only a measly blocked extra-point attempt. BYU looks totally superior at Sam Boyd Stadium and has taken a 23-7 lead late in the second quarter.

The Cougars latest touchdown came when Max Hall connected with Luke Ashworth on an out route. Oregon State blocked the extra point, but unless its offense can wake up, will it really matter?

Second quarter, 9:00 remaining, BYU 17, Oregon State 7

Oregon State is making mistakes. BYU is capitalizing on them.

The Beavers already have five penalties and their latest pass interference infraction put BYU in field goal range. Mitch Payne rocketed a 36-yarder through the uprights to put the Cougars ahead 17-7.

The Cougars relied heavily on junior running back Harvey Unga to bring them down the field. Although Unga had only 16 yards in the first quarter, he has powered his way to more success in the second quarter.

Oregon State hasn't had the ball for longer than a couple minutes all night. Its only touchdown came on a short field. The Beavers have shown no reason to believe they can sustain a long drive yet. They will start their next drive at their own 20.

End of first quarter, BYU 14, OSU 7

If momentum counts for anything, BYU has a decisive advantage at the end of the first quarter in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Cougar senior linebacker Matt Bauman just scooped up a failed Oregon State screen pass and took it 40 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 14-7 lead. Officials reviewed the play to make sure it wasn't a forward pass.

After hardly any deliberation, they announced the play stood. The second half of the first quarter was quite the turnaround for the Cougars. They looked listless during their first two offensive drives and went three-and-out on both.

But they scored twice in less than a minute to take control. Oregon State felt some heartbreak right before the end of the quarter.

The Beavers recovered a muffed punt and took it into the end zone to tie the game. But it was called back for holding. BYU will have the ball when the second quarter starts.

First quarter, 3:00 remaining, Oregon State 7, BYU 7

Oregon State might have scored first, but BYU gave as convincing an answer as anyone could have asked for.

The Cougars drove 84 yards right down the field in 14 plays and Harvey Unga scored on a one-yard rush. BYU 7, Oregon State 7.

BYU was specifically proficient on third downs on the drive. On a third-and-six from around midfield, Max Hall found Dennis Pitta for a 20 yard gain to prolong the drive.

The Cougars also converted a third down when an Oregon State defensive back was flagged for past interference. And — what do you know — Unga's touchdown run came on a third down play.

The elements are clearly going to be a factor all night in the game. The net couldn't even be used on BYU's extra point because the wind was tangling it up.

Spare pieces of trash and paper are flying on the field every minute. Watch out for the wind the rest of the night.

First quarter, 8:46 remaining, Oregon State 7, BYU 0

An unlikely unit has starred through the first five minutes of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

The Oregon State defensive line has dominated BYU, which set up its offense for a short touchdown drive. Oregon State leads 7-0 early at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The OSU front four of Gabe Miller, Brennan Olander, Stephen Paea and Matt LaGrone have given BYU quarterback Max Hall no time to look down field. Paea and Olander also stuffed rushing plays on consecutive plays for a loss of 10 total yards.

The defensive line's efficiency forced BYU to punt deep in their own territory into the wind, which gave the Beavers ideal field position at the 40-yard line. Four plays later, Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield took a sneak in from one yard out.

Let's see if the Cougars offensive line can make any adjustments.

Pregame

The whole college football world shifts its focus to Las Vegas tonight as the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas kicks off in less than an hour.

It's the only bowl game scheduled for Tuesday night and it’s no doubt the most anticipated Las Vegas Bowl in the 18-year history of the game. It’s the first time that ranked opponents will meet in the game as BYU finished the year at No. 15 and Oregon State came in at No. 16.

ESPN has ranked it as the best bowl game before New Year’s Day. CBS Sports called it the third best of the entire 2010 bowl season.

The excitement can already be felt at Sam Boyd Stadium. It’s been a while since this many fans were around Sam Boyd two hours prior to kickoff.

BYU, of course, is expected to have a few more fans in the crowd. But it won’t be drastic. There’s quite a lot of orange out there already for the Beavers.

An interesting matchup in the game that hasn’t been focused on a lot is the defenses. With offensive stars like BYU tight end Dennis Pitta and Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, the defenses seem to be the forgotten parts of both of these squads.

But they have playmakers. Oregon State’s linebacking corps has especially excelled this season.

The Beavers are No. 25 in the nation against the run and senior linebacker Keaton Kristick is a big reason why. He averages nearly eight tackles per game.

BYU, meanwhile, has some ball hawks in its secondary. Andrew Rich, Scott Johnson and Brian Logan have combined for 10 interceptions this season.

In other words, Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield will need to be as accurate as he’s been all season.

Prediction

This one could go either way and all hinges on whether BYU wants to be here or not.

Last year, the Cougars admittedly came out flat and never had a chance to beat Arizona. They swear this year is different.

If it truly is excited to be here, I see BYU winning this game. The Cougars have the better team — slightly.

On the other hand, from being around both teams this week, Oregon State seems more motivated and definitely looser. It should surprise no one if they win this year’s Las Vegas Bowl.

In fact, if this game is lopsided at all, I think it will be in Oregon State’s favor. But I’m picking the Cougars to send out a strong senior class with a thrilling victory.

BYU 35, Oregon State 31. What do you think?

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