1 of 2
Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images
Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield, here in action against Cal, leads an offense that could turn tonight's Las Vegas Bowl into one of the most high-scoring matchups of the college bowl season, especially since they face Max Hall and the Cougars.


This Maaco Las Vegas Bowl has all the billboard drama to set itself up as one of the best games of the college postseason.

But will it happen?

No. 15-ranked BYU is a slight underdog to Pac-10 runner-up No. 16 Oregon State.

Will this be a low-scoring, duke it out, down-to-the wire battle, or will it turn into a high-scoring shootout? Could Oregon State or BYU somehow get off to the races fast and turn it into a lopsided blowout? Both offenses are capable of delivering such a game.

We don't know.

Even after Maaco CEO Ken Walker, in his Texas twang, begged both teams at Monday's kickoff luncheon to put on a triple-overtime performance so it would dominate ESPN SportCenter, we still don't know.

Oregon State is a team just a couple of plays against Oregon in the Civil War from earning a Rose Bowl berth against Ohio State. The Cougars delivered the nation's first major upset of 2009 by toppling then No. 2 Oklahoma back in September.

What we do know is if the two senior quarterbacks, Max Hall and Sean Canfield, put forth their best efforts, we'll see a highlight film factory.

In Canfield, BYU's defense will face the type of QB that tends to give them trouble. He's accurate and he's got all kinds of talent to help brush his canvas. Canfield is the All-Pac-10 QB that broke USC's stranglehold on that honor (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinert, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez).

That's saying something.

At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, Canfield is a philosophy major from San Diego. He's got the smarts to handle the pro-set offense deployed by former San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley.

"Sean is a great quarterback," said Hall. "He's a guy who is going to be playing on the next level. He's a guy his team has rallied around. He's a great leader for them. It's going to be exciting to be going against a great player."

Canfield said BYU's defense is a 3-4 front like the one Cincinnati used to give the Beavers their first loss. BYU's "cover three" and "quarters" coverage is similar to what OSU's defense uses.

"It isn't as if we haven't seen anything like it this year," said Canfield. "But BYU has one of the more disciplined defenses we've faced. Everyone seems to know their role."

Canfield said he's really benefited from NFL caliber coaching from Riley. He says his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach are "tremendous" at making the calls.

"They aren't afraid to throw it down the field on third and one or second and five," he said. "They know how to organize a game. They've helped me not to turn a bad play into a worse play. It's all about efficiency. Games are won or lost on turnovers."

Sounds like a lecture Hall has heard from Robert Anae and Brandon Doman. BYU linebackers coach Barry Lamb called Canfield the real deal, as good a quarterback as the Cougars have faced in some time.

"He's got all kind of talent around him and he knows how to use it. They can run it and they can get it to the receivers. Just when you do something to stop them, they immediately shift to doing something else and they're very good at it," said Lamb.

Canfield's and Hall's statistics reflect their teams' success. Canfield is completing 70 percent of his passes; Hall is 67 percent accurate. Canfield is 284 of 406 for 3,103 yards and 21 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions. Hall is 256 of 379 for 3,368 yards and 30 touchdowns, with 14 picks.

This game marks the first time a Pac-10 ranked team has played in the Las Vegas Bowl, and obviously, it is the first matchup of two ranked teams, a feather in the cap for the bowl, which is looking for credibility and that ever-important TV rating figure.

Hall versus Canfield. Sounds like a boxing card. But it's a great story line to start with Tuesday night in a city known for its marquees.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com