Let the bowl festivities begin!

Amid a replicate of New York City complete with skyscrapers, graffiti, and manhole covers Las Vegas Bowl authorities officially welcomed the Oregon State Beavers and the University of New Mexico Lobos to the city of lights.

OSU head coach Mike Riley, running back Steven Jackson, and athletic director Bob De Carolis joined UNM head coach Rocky Long, running back DonTrell Moore, and athletic director Rudy Davalos at the ESPN Zone inside the New York-New York Hotel and Casino on the "Strip."

"We are proud for the opportunity to bring Beaver Nation to Las Vegas," said Riley who is making his first postseason appearance as the Beavers head coach. "We've heard nothing but great things about the Las Vegas Bowl, so our team is excited to arrive next week."

The press conference featured the 11th and 12th leading rushers in the nation in the Lobo's DonTrell Moore and the Beavers' Steven Jackson. Moore led the Mountain West Conference in rushing with 1,438 yards, an average of 119.8 yards per game, while scoring 19 touchdowns. He also made the first-team All-MWC team.

Jackson on the other hand led the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,396 yards, an average of 116.3 yards per game, while scoring 14 touchdowns. The Las Vegas native was also named to the first-team All-Pac-10 team.

"There's no place like home," Jackson said. "My family always wanted me to play a game at Sam Boyd Stadium, they just didn't expect it to be for Oregon State. Now I will have a chance to play in front of my family in Las Vegas."

The 12th annual contest will be the third meeting between the Lobos and Beavers with OSU winning in 2000, 28-20, and UNM winning in 1979, 35-16.

The University of New Mexico is making its eighth bowl appearance and their third in the last seven seasons. New Mexico has posted a bowl record of 2-4-1 in its previous seven appearances with their last bowl victory coming in 1961 against Western Michigan in the Aviation Bowl.

"When you've been in a bowl drought for as long as New Mexico has, the bowls become exciting," UNM head coach Rocky Long said. "The two teams match well against each other."

Oregon State is making its tenth bowl appearance and their fourth in the last five seasons. OSU has a bowl record of 5-4 in its previous nine appearances with their last victory coming in 2000 against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

"It's going to be a tough game on December 24," athletic director Bob De Carolis said. "We've actually wanted to make the trip to Las Vegas in years past. Everything worked out this year so we could spend the bowl season in Las Vegas.

Eight players on our squad are from the Las Vegas area, so this town is special to many of us. This is a great reward for our team, and it's a good excuse for our fans to spend some time in Las Vegas, where it might not rain as much!"

The Las Vegas Bowl will be televised live on ESPN, beginning at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on December 24.

Look for continued coverage of the Las Vegas Bowl all next week on BeaverFootball.com.

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