LAS VEGAS — Asked in the days leading up to Thursday's Las Vegas Bowl to compare the BYU football team to his Pac-10 Conference peers, Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti opined that BYU was a far cry from the Pac-10 elite.
By the time Thursday's postgame media session rolled around, the comparison — after BYU's 38-8 rout of the Ducks — again came front and center, with Bellotti asked if he thought the Mountain West Conference champion Cougars might now qualify in his mind as a mid-level Pac-10 team.
"We didn't play like a mid-level Pac-10 team, but no, my opinion of them hasn't changed."
Asked what he thought it might take to enhance his opinion of BYU as a Pac-10 caliber of peer, Bellotti tersely ended the matter: "I've covered that question. Next question."
Cougar players weren't about to be drawn into making comparisons.
"They can say whatever they want," said BYU running back Curtis Brown. "The scoreboard says 38-8 — that says how good they are."
Added Cougar quarterback John Beck: "Right now, I couldn't care less. I'm just happy we won."
And BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall wasn't about to weigh in on comparisons between the Mountain West and Pac-10.
"We didn't let that become a distraction, and I have the utmost respect for coach Bellotti and his staff," Mendenhall said. "I didn't hear anything that was said (by Bellotti), but that doesn't change my thinking or respect I have for him and his staff."
With the defeat, the Ducks finished with season on a four-loss skid and at 7-6 overall, including 4-5 in the Pac-10.
"We didn't play very well," said Bellotti of Oregon's performance against the Cougars. "I think we got out-coached, out-played and out-hustled ... I give credit to BYU. They played with great discipline and they are a very, very good team."
He was equally complimentary of Beck. "I think John Beck is a great quarterback. We didn't mount much of a pass rush today. Obviously, with a three- to four-man pass rush, we tried loading up on some of their best receivers, and he still beat us in double coverage sometimes or created situations in which we couldn't double them ... He did a tremendous job in finding receivers."
Bellotti said BYU's defense not only applied constant pressure along the line but did well in picking up receivers down field, forcing his quarterbacks into impatience and dumping off short passes.
Admitting his Ducks hadn't faced as many teams that played as much zone as the Cougars did, Bellotti added that BYU didn't show anything that Oregon wasn't prepared to face.