The Holiday Bowl also marks Navy's first postseason appearance since 1963, when its quarterback in a 28-6 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl was Roger Staubach. One Middie who figures to give BYU trouble is senior Quarterback Bob Lesczynski, who has thrown a school-record 26 touchdown passes during his career.
"I think the game has to be considered even," Edwards says. "What will determine the outcome is our ability to stop their running attack and their ability to stop our passing attack."
With a two-to-one advantage in the passing department, BYU has the edge.
Louisiana State (8-3) vs. Missouri (7-4)
Pity the poor LSU football fans who expected their sonic-boom cheering to spur the Tigers to the SEC championship and Charles Alexander to the Heisman Trophy. Neither goal was realized, and now further disappointment looms in Memphis, where another breed of cat figures to maul them.
The 18th-ranked Tigers of Missouri are making their first bowl appearance since 1973 and are better balanced and less error-prone than the unranked Tigers of LSU, whose inconsistency has caused Coach Charlie McClendon to say, "We've been operating on the yo-yo scale—up and down." Missouri has averaged almost 32 points a game to rank sixth in the nation in scoring; it also is 10th in total offense. In addition, Warren Powers' 7-4 club has prepped for the Liberty Bowl by knocking off two contenders in other bowls—Nebraska and Notre Dame. Despite its 8-3 record, LSU struggled against the quality teams on its schedule—losing tight games to Georgia and Mississippi State and being walloped 31-10 by Alabama—and barely survived Wake Forest and Wyoming.
However, if anyone can spur LSU to victory, it's Alexander, the finest running back in the school's history, who will close out a spectacular collegiate career in Memphis. Though hampered by injury and an erratic offensive line, Alexander rushed for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He also caught 28 passes for 263 yards. During his four years at LSU, he accounted for 24 school and nine SEC records and rushed for 4,035 yards and 40 touchdowns. Against Missouri, Alexander is certain to be called on as a receiver if the LSU line can't break him loose wide—and that has been a problem for McClendon's offense all season.
A bigger problem faces the LSU defense headed by Safety Chris Williams, who intercepted eight passes this year. Missouri Quarterback Phil Bradley, a sophomore who led the Big Eight in total offense, completed more than 60% of his throws for 1,780 yards and a dozen touchdowns, while James Wilder and Earl Gant ran for almost 1,700 yards.
"Our defense is going to be tested real good," says McClendon. For LSU fans, it may be an oral exam they are destined to flunk.
Maryland (9-2) vs. Texas (8-3)