PROVO — Although BYU is making its fifth consecutive trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday his players are eager to return to Las Vegas, play a ranked team, and redeem themselves after falling to Arizona last year at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The No. 15 Cougars take on No. 16 Oregon State on Dec. 22 (6 p.m., ESPN).
"We're playing a very good football team, a team I know our players are excited to play," Mendenhall said. "That, in and of itself, has them kind of chomping at the bit to get back to Las Vegas and to play well. None of us felt like we played to our full potential a year ago. That is a motivating factor to go back and do it at a higher level."
Senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen said he and his teammates are looking forward to facing a team that tied for second place in the Pac-10.
"We knew no matter what we were going to get a really good team from the Pac-10 this year. I think there is a little bit different feeling this year compared to years' past just because we know we're getting a very good, quality Pac-10 opponent. (The Beavers) were a game away from the Rose Bowl. There's a different feeling amongst the team. I talked to other players when the announcement was made and we're all pretty excited to play Oregon State."
Mendenhall added that this is the program's best matchup for a bowl game in his five years as head coach and that his team is healthier than it's ever been going into a bowl game.
Except for Sundays, the Cougars are planning to practice every day from now until the bowl game, Mendenhall said.
He added that because this year the game falls on a Tuesday, the school is discussing options with bowl officials about how to deal with bowl activities that are scheduled on the Sunday prior to the game.