Just about everybody has their personal situation in life that they're not sure they'd like to go through again. Ichabod Crane wouldn't be crazy about another ride down Sleepy Hollow. The Argentinians wouldn't be anxious to get into another fight over the Falkland Islands. Alydar would be content to go the rest of his days never having to race Affirmed again.

For BYU football, another chance at the Freedom Bowl qualifies as a dubious opportunity.Another chance at any bowl game, as a matter of fact, can cause anyone concerned about the welfare of BYU football to break out in hives.

The best thing about the bowls for BYU has been that the Cougars have been invited to one postseason game or another 12 times in the past 13 years.

The worst thing has been that they went ahead and played the games.

A program that ranks among the top eight win-ningest in America during the regular season the past dozen years has a bowl record about as spectacular as . . . The Cougars are 4-8 in their 12 bowl games. And the four wins came by a grand total of 14 points. There was the one-point come-from-behind win over SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl, the two-point win over Washington State in the 1981 Holiday Bowl, the four-point win over Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl that wasn't realized until the final drive, and there was the seven-point win over Michigan in the 1984 Holiday Bowl that also wasn't decided until the final seconds.

The eight losses have included dual defeats to Oklahoma State, Ohio State and coach George Welsh, who beat BYU once while at Navy and again last year while coaching Virginia. Also, Indiana and UCLA have beaten the Cougars. UCLA's win came two years ago, 31-10, in the Freedom Bowl, right here in Anaheim, site of Thursday night's BYU-Colorado showdown in Anaheim Stadium.

It's no surprise that BYU, 8-4, is the underdog to 8-3 Colorado, although Colorado's Bowl record is nothing to write home about either. The Buffs are 4-8 alltime, the same as BYU.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why BYU's bowl performances have been so, well, spotty over the years.

One of the most popular theories is that the Cougars have traditionally treated the bowl games like they weren't life-and-death, it being head coach LaVell Edwards' philosophy that the bowls were a reward system along the lines of Christmas bonuses.

That caused BYU to come into the games four weeks after the end of the regular season somewhat out of shape and out of breath - all ready to be bowled over by teams that did treat the situation with graveness.

Take last year, for instance. BYU scheduled a see-the-world trip to Australia to play Colorado State at the end of the regular season. They were tourists for more than a week halfway around the world and then came back to Birmingham, Alabama, where Virginia and George Welsh were waiting in the All-American Bowl to wish them a G'Day and a G'Night.

Apparently, Edwards took that loss harder than some of the previous bowl setbacks - enough to develop a different attitude for this year's bowl experience.

Even before BYU played its last regular season game - at Miami - the coach said that his top priority was to get ready for Colorado in the Freedom Bowl. "We want to do as well as we can in Miami," he said of the game against the No. 2-ranked Hurricanes, "But we don't want to get beat up and not be ready to do well in the bowl game."

Times have changed.

"We have time to get some of our key people healthy, and be ready to go all out for Colorado," said Edwards. "We really need to win that game."

Trips to Disneyland and Newport Beach aside, the Cougars' primary objective in Anaheim is to survive the Freedom Bowl without having to endure another bowl-game character-building experience.

You can feel the trepidation building. BYU has a blood pressure problem with these postseason affairs. The Cougars' track record precedes them. It was more fun in the old days, when just getting here was a big deal. Now, it's either reverse the trend or face a long hard winter. That's some Christmas bonus.