You can't see both the Freedom Bowl and the Holiday Bowl from here but you get a nice view just the same.

The University of Utah football team is located 47.5 miles up the I-5 freeway at the Anaheim Marriott. The Brigham Young University football team is located 47.5 miles down the I-5 freeway at the San Diego Marriott. Tonight, the Cougars face Ohio State in the Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl at 6 p.m. MST in Jack Murphy Stadium. An hour later, the Utes face USC in the Freedom Bowl at 7 p.m. MST in Anaheim Stadium. The question inquiring Utah college football fans want to know is when, or if, they should open their eyes.For more than a week now both Utah teams have been holed up in Southern California, dealing with 70-degree weather, dealing with round-the-clock room service, dealing with free trips to Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland and Sea World - and dealing with negative point spreads that make them the football equivalent of the American Libertarian Party winning the next presidential election.

Utah is a 17-point underdog to USC. BYU is a 14-point underdog to Ohio State. English translation from these kinds of odds: Arrive early and leave early. Blink and you'll miss the turning point. If you want to see a close call, go to the Santa Monica/San Diego Freeway interchange and watch the tourists try to get off.

But is this true? How will it really go tonight for the Utah teams? Will they prove the oddsmakers wrong or will they wish they hadn't come? Will the best part be going back to the sleet and the snow? Will they need therapy and for how long?

Tough questions, and hard to answer, although there are a number of factors that can be considered.

First, the favorable-for-the-Utah-teams factors:

The THIS ISN'T THE ROSE BOWL FACTOR: USC and Ohio State may be the predicted bullies, but they are not in the Rose Bowl. And the reason they are not in the Rose Bowl is because each lost to its most hated rival, Ohio State to Michigan and USC to UCLA. It is hard to determine the psychological effect these losses will have on each team as it plays in its Consolation Bowl, but whatever it is, it's probably no little thing.

And then there's the WE'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE FACTOR: This is BYU's 11th Holiday Bowl in the last 16 years, which means, among other things, the Cougars are smart enough to stay in the Marriott instead of the Hilton, where they have relegated the Buckeyes. To the Cougars, Jack Murphy Stadium is like a second home field.

As for the Utes, they have 41 players from California, a head coach who grew up 12 miles from Anaheim Stadium, a staff that has personally recruited every high school in the Golden State at least six times, and, for good measure, they've sold more tickets to tonight's game than have the so-called hometown Trojans. Add in the fact that of those 41 California Utes, approximately 41 of them were at one time or another snubbed by USC, and you have revenge blended with home turf.

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On the other hand, there are factors not so favorable for the Utah teams, almost all of them having to do with hard cold statistics such as won-lost records, defensive stopping power, times in the 40, blue chip recruits, power ratings, strength-of-schedule comparisons, past history in big games, Top 25 rankings, All-Americans per capita, and respective league affiliations.

Some people have suggested that, in a statistical sense, it would be much better to match USC vs. Ohio State in a kind of Rose Bowl II and match BYU against Utah in a neutral field rerun of their to-the-final-gun thriller a month ago in Provo.

But, then, that would not only impugn the integrity of the bowls and their ability to provide thrilling matchups, it would also turn Southern California into a BYU-Utah battlefield, and after the recession, the passage of NAFTA, and Rodney King, Southern California may not be ready for that.

No, it will be left for the Utes and Cougars to sort out their fates against stronger, faster, more highly decorated teams tonight. Whether they'll prevail will soon enough become a matter of public record. It might not be a bad idea to monitor the early action from the scenic viewpoint exit halfway between Anaheim and San Diego. If things look up for the Utahns, either one of them, it's an easy drive to either stadium. Then again, if things unravel as advertised, the view of the ocean is terrific.

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