5 Thoughts - 2008 Las Vegas Bowl
BYU TE Dennis Pitta
BYU TE Dennis Pitta
Posted Dec 21, 2008

Arizona beats BYU 31-21 ... 5 Thoughts on the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl.

5 Thoughts ... 2008 Las Vegas Bowl

Arizona 31 ... BYU 21

GAME REVIEW: Arizona wins first bowl since 1998
- 2008 CFN Las Vegas Bowl Preview

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1. For the Arizona football program, there’s no underestimating the value of this win. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was huge. By becoming bowl eligible last month, the Wildcats finally got over the hump, while saving head coach Mike Stoops’ job. By holding off BYU on Saturday night, they’ve already taken another important step in the rebuilding process. Now, instead of being 7-6, Arizona ends the season at 8-5. And instead of taking a loss into the offseason, it’ll be carrying some Las Vegas Bowl hardware. The difference between the two situations is immense and sure to come up when Stoops locks horns with Dennis Erickson on the recruiting trail next month. - Richard Cirminiello   

2) Given the way the Mountain West Conference pushed around the Pac-10 this year, it was surprising to see Arizona not only win, but dominate. BYU played stupid football, but not listless football. The Wildcats were legitimately stronger and faster than the Cougars, and there was little doubt about the matter. Arizona proved to be superior in the trenches, and equally better on the perimeter. BYU didn't act disinterested in its fourth straight Las Vegas Bowl appearance; Arizona, though, showed what a bowl game can do for a team (as was the case with Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl) by playing inspired ball. All credit is due to coach Mike Stoops, whose victory tonight does a lot to make this season a successful one. A loss--and a subsequent 7-6 mark--would have kept a raincloud over the program, despite its first bowl bid in a solid decade.- Matthew Zemek

3) Is there anything to be said for having extra time off vs. being on a bit of a roll? BYU hadn't played a game since getting blasted by Utah on November 22nd and it hadn't won a game since November 15th. Meanwhile, Arizona had to play do-or-die football against an arch-rival. Needing to be fully focused and hyped up for Arizona State, the Wildcats had two weeks to prepare for the regular-season finale, needing to either win or see the Sun Devils play in the Las Vegas Bowl. That meant that there was only a two-week lag for Arizona while BYU had to sit and stew for a month. Sometimes the extra time off allowed a banged up team to heal up and get a few key pieces back, and while it's doing a disservice to Arizona to suggest that it won just because it was in more of a groove, in this game, it seemed like it didn't hurt. - Pete Fiutak

4) There’s a fraud alert out with BYU’s picture on it. The Cougars have been generally unimpressive throughout the year, including in the 31-21 loss to Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl. Where’s the big win or the statement moment that warranted the program being No. 17 entering this game? In four chances with teams now over .500, it went 1-3, with all of the losses coming by double-digits. The defense has gotten routinely exposed, and QB Max Hall is much better on paper than he is on grass. Hall will keep putting up gaudy numbers in 2009, but his arm strength is questionable and he’s disappeared in big games. Although the record may say 10-3, that doesn’t mean BYU didn’t underachieve in 2008. 
- Richard Cirminiello 
5) BYU, after this sloppy piece of self-sabotage, can be considered a Mountain time zone version of Michigan State. Much as the Spartans compiled a nice record in 2008 but lost their money games (Ohio State and Penn State) by a combined score of 94-25, BYU went 10-3, but lost its biggest games (TCU, Utah, and now this bowl game against Arizona) by an aggregate score of 111-52, which could otherwise be viewed as three 37-17 drubbings.Add on this thought-within-a-thought about BYU's evidently soft 10 wins: Maybe TCU and Utah shouldn't be feeling too confident now that the team they both crushed got exposed against Arizona.- Matthew Zemek