The University of Utah, which began its nation-leading nine-game bowl winning streak here more than a decade ago, has accepted an invitation and will return to play in the 19th annual MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at 5 p.m. PT on Dec. 22, Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy announced Wednesday.
The Utes, who are ranked 21st in both polls and sit 20th in this week's BCS Standings, are 10-2 overall and finished 7-1 in Mountain West Conference play. Head coach Kyle Whittingham and his team will represent the MWC for the final time before beginning play in the Pacific-10 Conference in 2011.
Utah's opponent for the game will be announced this weekend. All-time, Utah is 2-0 in the event, having won the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl over Fresno State, 17-16, and the 2001 edition over Southern California by a score of 10-6.
"Our committee is thrilled to welcome back an old friend in Utah, which has had so much success in the Las Vegas Bowl but hasn't played here in nine years," Kunzer-Murphy said. "We expect to feature another great matchup in front of what we hope will be another sold-out crowd."
The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, which is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), will be televised nationally on ESPN HD. Last year's game attracted 40,018 fans, which marked the fifth consecutive sellout crowd as No. 15 BYU defeated No. 16 Oregon State 44-20 in the first-ever meeting of two ranked teams at the annual event.
Since the first Las Vegas Bowl was played in 1992, six of the current nine MWC teams have appeared in the game a combined 14 times, compiling an 8-6 record.
Tickets for the 2010 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas are on sale now and this year include complimentary transportation from the two host hotels to and from Sam Boyd Stadium. Prices of remaining tickets are $35, $55 and $100 and can be reserved by phone at 1-866-388-FANS, online at www.unlvtickets.com or in person at the Thomas & Mack Center box office. For information on sponsorship opportunities and corporate ticket packages, call (702) 732-3912 or log on to www.maacobowllv.com.
UTAH ATHLETICS DIRECTOR DR. CHRIS HILL:
"Getting an invitation to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas is not only a wonderful reward for our nationally ranked football team, it is also a reward for our great fans. Las Vegas is a popular destination for Utah fans, as evidenced by the big crowds that have made the trip to attend our regular-season games against UNLV over the past several years. The proximity of Las Vegas to the majority of our fan base, along with good weather, world-class entertainment and a 10-2 Utah football team, should make this an attractive bowl game for our fans. I know that Coach Whittingham and the players have had their sights set on this game ever since beating BYU last week, so I am happy for them and for all of us involved with Utah athletics."
UTAH HEAD COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM:
"We are very excited about our invitation to play in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. It's been a while since we have played a bowl game in Las Vegas and our players and coaches are looking forward to the opportunity. We are proud to represent the Mountain West Conference in its top bowl game and anticipate a strong turnout by our fans."
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