Ducks To Return To Las Vegas For First Time Since 1997

LAS VEGAS - The University of Oregon will make a return appearance in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl after accepting an invitation on Tuesday to play BYU in the December 21 game.

The 15th Annual Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, will be televised nationally by ESPN and ESPNHD. The Ducks, out of the Pac-10 Conference, will face the Mountain West Conference Champion Cougars at Sam Boyd Stadium beginning at 5 p.m. PST.

Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti, who earlier this season became the winningest coach in school history, accepted the bid via a conference call with his team, Oregon athletics director Bill Moos and bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy.

The Ducks, who were ranked as high as 11th in the nation this season and remained in the top 25 for three months, finished their season 7-5 overall and 4-5 in league play. The program has been selected to play in 10 bowl games during Bellotti's 12 years as head coach and this year's trip will mark the 20th bowl game in school history. The first-ever Pac-10 team to appear in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, Oregon defeated Air Force 41-13 on Dec. 20, 1997.

''The University of Oregon was our first Pac-10 team here nine years ago and we are thrilled to have the Ducks returning to represent their conference in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl,'' Kunzer-Murphy said. ''Coach Bellotti has a nationally respected program with a tremendous following and we look forward to having our best-ever match-up with Oregon taking on another nationally prominent program in BYU.''

This will mark the sixth meeting between the two Western powers with Oregon leading the all-time series 3-2. The most recent game came in 1990 when the Ducks downed the Cougars 32-16.

"My entire coaching staff and players are extremely excited to be invited to play in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl,'' Bellotti said. ''The coaches remember and the players have heard stories about how much fun it was last time and the great experience the people of Las Vegas provided for all of us.

''Certainly that game helped to springboard a lot of the things we've accomplished at Oregon since the 1997 season. Also the fact we play a tremendous opponent in BYU that is certainly capable of scoring a lot of points and is having their best season in a long time adds to our anticipation. BYU is a program that brings with them great tradition and we will certainly have our hands full."

Since the first Las Vegas Bowl was played in 1992, five Pac-10 teams have appeared in the game a combined six times, compiling a 4-2 record. The MWC and Pac-10 have faced each other the last five seasons.

"The University of Oregon is thrilled to have been selected to play in this year's Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl,'' Moos said. ''Our players and fans had a fabulous experience when we played there in 1997 and are eager to return. The match-up with an outstanding BYU team should prove to be an action-filled game."

Both Oregon and BYU will send representatives, including their head coach and a player, who will be available at a formal team announcement and press conference with the Las Vegas media on Thursday, Dec. 7, starting at 11:30 a.m. at the ESPN Zone inside the New York-New York Hotel.