Countdown Nearing End

Dec. 19, 2008

LAS VEGAS--Arizona and Brigham Young coaches and players entered the final day of waiting for their college football bowl game showdown, meeting with the media a final time and participating in the bowl's kickoff luncheon Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

UA coach Mike Stoops and players Ronnie Palmer and Mike Thomas, and BYU counterparts Bronco Mendenhall, Max Hall and David Nixon, joined together for a bowl news conference in the late morning, with both sides trading compliments and otherwise pointing at what could be a solid matchup of potent offenses.

A short while later, the entire teams, bands and supporters were on hand in a ballroom next door for the Kickoff Luncheon, with guest speaker Joe Theismann.

Arizona (7-5 overall) and BYU (10-2) will meet at 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. Tucson time) in Sam Boyd Stadium, where a crowd of about 38,000 (40,000 capacity) is expected in the cold weather this city of two million is experiencing, for the 17th edition of the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl.

Arizona returns to the bowl scene after a nine-year hiatus, while the Cougars enters its fourth consecutive Las Vegas Bowl and sixth postseason appearance since UA's visit to San Diego for the 1998 Holiday Bowl.

Stoops has been visibly eager to get over with the fun stuff and get his team on the field for football, although he's been more than accommodating to the local press and the visiting contingents from Tucson and Utah.

The Cats had a short walk-through at Sam Boyd Stadium Friday afternoon. The final bowl-type activity Friday night was a pep rally appearance by assistant coach Jeff Hammerschmidt and kicker Jason Bondzio. After that, it's all night-before and game-day preparations.

The game will be broadcast live by ESPN on national cable, and on national radio by SportsUSA. UA media partner IMG Sports will carry the game in the Arizona markets with Brian Jeffries as the radio play-by-play announcer.

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