At least one football publication went out on a very shaky limb by picking BYU to beat Ohio State tonight in the Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl.

College & Pro Football Newsweekly likes the Cougars as a 45-40 winner.Here's their reasoning: "BYU has been impressive, but hampered by numerous injuries. There's no telling how far the Cougars could have gone if they had stayed healthy. Everyone's healthy now, though, and BYU is ready to reap the rewards of a tough season."

(It doesn't say who wrote this, but the guy should be sent a Cougar Club application.)

In the same publication's "Editor's Selections" section, in which seven staff members pick the bowl games, only two of the seven picked BYU. And they were the same two that picked Wyoming to beat Kansas State.

SAY WHAT?: You have to wonder about the desire of a player who could make the following statement:

"Even if we lose, who cares? We're not going to end up in the Top 25. The fact is, we won a WAC title and got a free vacation. Not every team in the country is in a nice bowl like the Holiday Bowl."

Who said it? BYU noseguard Lenny Gomes.

REAL PRESSURE: The Cougars got just a taste this season of what the Buckeyes frequently experience from fans. When BYU was booed at a couple of home games this year, the players were shocked. The Buckeyes say it's much uglier in Columbus.

"When you're the only game in town and everyone's used to winning and something goes wrong, there's an incredible amount of criticism," said offensive tackle Alan Kline.

"It's tough playing football in Columbus, with the tradition we have," said safety Chico Nelson. "The fans are unforgiving. They want to win and they want to win big."

MORE GOMES: On the fact that if BYU loses, his senior class will be the first in BYU's string of 16 straight bowl appearances to never have won a bowl game, Gomes said:

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"It doesn't really matter. I don't know too many people who can say they went to five bowl games and won five conference championships."

Actually, since BYU won 10 titles in a row from 1976-85 and went to a bowl game every one of those years, there are a fair number of former Cougs who can say that, and they all won at least one bowl game, too.

SHORT STUFF: BYU was 9th in the nation in total offense; OSU was 9th in the nation in total defense . . . A Buckeye fan publication picked OSU to win, 54-24.

Don't be surprised if Edwards, never a big fan of trick plays, pulls some gimmicks tonight.

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