The Big Eight is known as a physical, smash-mouth football league, while the WAC has the reputation of having high-flying offenses but not much defense.

Yet Thursday night in the Copper Bowl, it was the WAC team - BYU - that dominated physically in the trenches on both sides of the ball."We wanted to establish a running game, but they were more physical," said Oklahoma running back Jerald Moore after his team lost 31-6 to the Cougars.

"The thing that was the key for us was pass protection," BYU coach LaVell Edwards said. "I was very worried about their pass rush. I felt that if we could protect well, we could make some big plays and that is what we did."

Oklahoma had 33 sacks in 11 regular season games but could manage only one against BYU.

On the defensive side of the ball, BYU made running the football unproductive for the Sooners, forcing Oklahoma quarterback Terence Brown - in his first-ever start - to pass the ball, usually unsuccessfully. Brown was filling in for normal starter Garrick McGee, who was out after losing 25 pounds recently due to a viral infection.

"We put Terence Brown in a position that was very difficult for him," said Oklahoma coach Gary Gibbs. "He hadn't played quarterback this year, and we took him from wide receiver and put him at quarterback with one week of practice. It was difficult for him to step in and do a job against a very good BYU team."

In the two bowl games so far this season involving WAC teams, opponents have scored a grand total of 19 points. The league champion, Colorado State, will face Michigan in tonight's Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

"The WAC has done well," Edwards said. "It would be great if Colorado State could win tomorrow and make it a three-game (bowl) sweep."

IN MEMORY: All of the Cougars wore the initials "J.F." on the back of their helmets in honor of John Farley, a former BYU graduate assistant who died of heart disease Dec. 10.

"We dedicated the game to John Farley, and it was nice to go out and get a win for him," Cougar quarterback John Walsh said.

"The dedication of the game to John Farley was a huge factor for us," Cougar tight end Chad Lewis said. "We were proud to wear that sticker on our helmets."

A LITTLE ADVICE: There has been much speculation that the Copper Bowl would be the final game in a BYU uniform for Walsh, a junior, who could make himself available for the NFL draft.

Edwards was asked what he would do if he were in his star QB's shoes. "I'd come back," the veteran coach said, adding a personal quip. "I'd want one more year to play for coach Edwards."

On a more serious note Edwards said, "I really don't know what John will do. Whatever he decides, he'll have our blessing."

BRIEFS: Even though his team just beat the hometown Arizona Wildcats 16-13 Tuesday night in the Freedom Bowl, Ron McBride is still a popular figure in Tucson. McBride, a former Arizona assistant coach, and his wife Vicky were guests of the Copper Bowl committee at the game . . . Ex-Cougar quarterback Jim McMahon attended the game. So did former BYU linebacker Kurt Gouveia, a member of the '84 national title team, now with the Washington Redskins . . . Jamal Willis, the all-time leading rusher in BYU history, had a hard time getting much going on the ground, rushing the ball 11 times for 41 yards, but he was the game's leading receiver. Willis caught seven passes for 103 yards, including a 43-yard catch on Walsh's first throw that set up the game's initial touchdown.