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For a game BYU head coach LaVell Edwards insists wasn't played for its benefit, the Cougars' Cotton Bowl victory meant an awful lot to the Western Athletic Conference.

The 19-15 win over Kansas State gave the WAC a 7-6 season edge over the Big 12 Conference and a first-ever triumph on New Year's Day.It also enhanced WAC commissioner Karl Benson's case for inclusion in the bowl alliance.

"We should have been in it since the start," BYU senior Tim McTyer shouted after the game.

COMMON AIR: Though separated by 16 years and 11 days, Kansas State's "Hail Mary" pass from Brian Kavanagh to Andre Anderson to end the first half had a few things in common with BYU's game-ending completion (from Jim McMahon to Clay Brown) in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.

Both passes not only covered 41 yards, but each had ties to Southern Methodist University - the Cotton Bowl is the Mustangs' home field.

AWARD WINNERS: The media voted BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian and Kansas State wide receiver Kevin Lockett as co-offensive players of the game. Shay Muirbook, the Cougars' middle linebacker, was defensive player of the game.

GOOD COMPANY: Sarkisian tied a Cotton Bowl record by completing 21 passes. Former Dallas Cowboys star Roger Staubach of Navy did the same in a 28-6 loss to Texas in 1964.

RUNNING ON EMPTY: BYU (41) and Kansas State (59) combined for 100 yards rushing - the lowest total in Cotton Bowl history.

The Cougars' running total was the lowest ever by a winning team in the Cotton Bowl.

STREAKS ALIVE: Sarkisian's 32-yard scoring strike to James Dye in the third quarter extended BYU's consecutive games-with-a-touchdown streak to 131 games . . . . The Cougars also extended their NCAA-best scoring streak to 276 games.

SWEET TALK: When asked by a reporter if BYU's triumph was a victory for milk and cookies, BYU's McTyer said: "No, it was just a wholesome win."