Beck, BYU clinch Mountain West titleNov 19, 2006 - 1:14 AM PROVO, Utah (Ticker) -- John Beck and BYU are headed back to Las Vegas.
Beck passed for 464 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score as the 23rd-ranked Cougars posted a 42-17 victory over New Mexico to clinch their first outright Mountain West Conference championship since 2001.
Beck completed 28-of-42 passes with two interceptions for BYU (9-2, 7-0 MWC), which accepted an invitation to December 21's Las Vegas Bowl, which traditionally pits the Mountain West champion against a Pac-10 Conference club.
"We're thrilled to accept the invitation to the 2006 Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl," Brigham Young athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "This is a credit to Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall, his staff and the team.
"We are pleased to represent the Mountain West Conference as champions, and we look forward to a matchup against a quality team from the Pac-10. We appreciate our loyal fans for their dedication and support, and for helping to re-establish the great tradition of Cougar football."
Backfield mate Curtis Brown, who rushed for 124 yards on only 13 carries, opened the scoring with a 49-yard scamper just over two minutes into the game. Brown also was on the receiving end of a nine-yard TD toss by Beck with a minute remaining in the second period that extended the Cougars' advantage to 28-3 at halftime.
After New Mexico pulled within 28-17, Beck put the game out of reach with a four-yard TD pass to Matt Allen with five minutes left in the third quarter and a one-yard keeper with 4:53 to play in the contest
Beck, who surpassed Cougar great Jim McMahon for second place on the school's all-time list for career passing yards and total offense last week, led Brigham Young to 653 yards of total offense. Six of his completions went to wide receiver Nate Meikle for 111 yards.
The Cougars lost to California, 35-28, in last year's Las Vegas Bowl. BYU's all-time record in Las Vegas stands at 7-2, including two appearances in the Western Athletic Conference championship game during the 1990s.
"It's an honor to return to the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl as Mountain West Conference champions," Mendenhall said. "We look forward to representing Brigham Young University and the conference at the highest level.
"This is an honor that is reflective of the leadership of our team captains, as well as the senior leadership on this team. This is an honor that belongs to them. It is well-deserved."
Chris Nelson was 22-of-38 for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for New Mexico (5-6, 3-4), which has lost two straight after a three-game winning streak.
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