Cougars Headed Back To Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl

LAS VEGAS - Newly crowned Mountain West Conference champion BYU will appear in its second consecutive Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl after having accepted an invitation to the game, which will be played Thursday, December 21.

Following the Cougars' 42-17 victory over New Mexico at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, members of the bowl's executive committee extended the invitation at midfield to BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson, Athletics Director Tom Holmoe and Head Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall.

The ceremony happened just minutes after BYU won its first conference title since 2001 by improving to 7-0 in league play and 9-2 overall. The Cougars, who were ranked 23rd in the nation this week by the Associated Press, will take their eight-game winning streak into Salt Lake City next Saturday to face Utah in the regular-season finale for both teams. BYU's opponent in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl will be a team to be determined in the coming weeks from the Pacific-10 Conference.

''I can think of no one better to be the first Mountain West champion to play in our 15th annual game than BYU,'' Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said. ''Coach Mendenhall has quickly returned the Cougars to national prominence with an exciting brand of football and the university's tremendous fan base helped us take this game to a new level last year and will do so once again on December 21st. Our executive committee congratulates BYU and knows they will help make this year's Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl the best one yet.''

The Cougars are no stranger to Sam Boyd Stadium as they came to their first Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl last season and were edged by Cal 35-28 in front of the first sold-out game in the event's history. In fact, BYU's all-time record in Las Vegas stands at 7-2, including two appearances in the Western Athletic Conference championship game during the 1990s.

''We're thrilled to accept the invitation to the 2006 Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl,'' Holmoe said. ''This is a credit to Coach Mendenhall, his staff and the team. We are pleased to represent the Mountain West Conference as champions, and we look forward to a matchup against a quality team from the Pac-10. We appreciate our loyal fans for their dedication and support, and for helping to re-establish the great tradition of Cougar Football.''

The 2006 Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, will kick off at 5 p.m. PST and be televised nationally by ESPN and ESPNHD. Since the first Las Vegas Bowl was played in 1992, six of the current nine MWC teams have appeared in the game a combined 10 times, compiling a 5-5 record. The MWC and Pac-10 have faced each other the last five seasons.

"It's an honor to return to the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl as Mountain West Conference champions,'' BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. ''We look forward to representing Brigham Young University and the conference at the highest level. This is an honor that is reflective of the leadership of our team captains, as well as the senior leadership on this team. This is an honor that belongs to them. It is well-deserved."