Sweet Home Arizona

There are 11 football players on BYU's roster from the state of Arizona including Travis Bright, John Beck, Quinn Gooch, Aaron Gordon, Max Hall, Terrence Hooks, Derek McLaughlin, David Tafuna, Matt Allen and Ben Criddle. All will be heading home with a little something extra to prove in this weekend's contest against the Wildcats of Arizona.

Much like how the population of the state of Utah is divided between BYU and Utah fans, Arizona residents are also split between Arizona State and University of Arizona supporters.

"The state is split kind of the same way it is here in Utah," said BYU quarterback John Beck. "Most or the southern half is all U of A fans and most of the Phoenix metro area on up are ASU fans.

"We followed BYU football, but we were season ticket holders to the Sun Devils until I think I was about eight. We went all the time and the U of A game was always a huge game for us as far as Sun Devils fans were concerned. I'm happy to be able to go down there and play them. Where I grew up is kind of like a mix, but in my area where I was from the Wildcats were looked upon as like the enemy. I think it will be fun, and since I came up here to BYU the season tickets to ASU have ended, but we've never been Wildcat fans so."

For BYU wide receiver Matt Allen, the fan situation within his family is a bit more complicated.

"Growing up in Arizona it's always been the U of A versus ASU rivalry," said Allen. "I grew up in the Phoenix valley so I was an ASU fan and always disliked U of A. Then my brother and goes and marries a girl from Tucson, and so now his kids are getting all the U of A hats from their grandparents down in Tucson. At the same time I'm trying to give them BYU stuff. So now my brother's kids are going to be going to the U of A game with BYU jerseys and U of A hats. They're kind of confusing the kids I think."

Quarterback John Beck is looking forward to playing one of his final football games back close to home. Although there are reasons for added pressure, he is mentally preparing himself much the same way he does for any other game.

"I think it's going to be fun to go back to my home state," Beck said. "What I'm trying to do is, stay excited for the game but treat it like it's just any other game. I don't want, by any means, to go out there and place any added pressure on myself or anything. I don't want to do that at all. I'm excited to go back home and play, but I'm going to treat it like any other team we will play this year, and I'm going to try and play them the best way I can."

The last time receiver Matt Allen played in Tucson was seven years ago while he was still in high school. He scored two touchdowns, but he hopes this time to do one better this time.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Allen said. "I haven't played a game in Arizona since 1999, so I'm looking forward to going back home. The last time I played was when I was in high school, and the last time I played back in Tucson, I scored two touchdowns. I would like to go back there and do that again. Maybe even up my last performance by one more. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be fun."

With many family and friends still residing in the area, both Beck and Allen will have a large cheering section.

"Most definitely there will be a lot of people in the stands," said Beck. "There will be a lot of family and friends in the stands, and they better be wearing BYU gear. It's kind of funny because I have a friend that I used to work out with who is actually a big media guy down there by the name of Jude Lakava. He told me, ‘Hey good luck against the Wildcats.' Most of my family friends are all ASU fans."

"There will be a ton of family and friends down there at the game from the Phoenix and Mesa area," said Allen. "It will be good to have all those BYU fans down there for the game. There will be a lot of BYU fans down there."

Allen even has a few that will switch their allegiance to BYU but just this one time.

"Yesterday I got the mail and there was a card from a lady from back home and she had written, ‘Hey, I'm looking forward to the game except U of A is my Alma Mater. So what I want you to do is go in there and win but just make it close.' She then said, ‘Make it kind of close so that way it doesn't look like I'm from a loser school.' Even though many like U of A, my friends support me and their really cool about it. They know what's most important."


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