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Las Vegas Bowl waiting on candidates

The easy job for the Las Vegas Bowl committee should be selecting the Mountain West Conference representative, but it suddenly isn’t.

The difficult job should be finding the Mountain West opponent for the Dec. 22 game at Sam Boyd Stadium, but that might become simple.

Either way, bowl officials are now forced to wait for both teams. They could extend an invitation to Brigham Young on Saturday (pending a Cougars victory over Utah), but the Bowl Championship Series decided not to release BYU from consideration. Yes, BYU is only 25th in the BCS standings and must rise to No. 12 for an automatic bid and to 16th for any consideration, but those long odds don’t seem to matter.

However, it’s affecting not only how the Las Vegas Bowl puts together its matchup, but the three other contracted Mountain West postseason games as well. No one can invite a conference team until Las Vegas makes the first pick.

On the other side, the Las Vegas Bowl committee looked as if it might have to choose an at-large team to replace the Pacific-10 Conference representative because it appeared that league might send two teams to BCS games and have no one available for here. But Oregon’s 34-24 loss to Arizona and quarterback Dennis Dixon’s season-ending knee injury increase the chances of the Pac-10 putting just one team into the BCS and landing a school in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Bowl gets the Pac-10’s fifth selection this year. And, for one of the rare times, the bowl might get a Pac-10 team that truly wants to be here. The possibilities are an Oregon State team that potentially could be 8-4 or a 6-6 Arizona team coming off four consecutive victories.

“If they’re playing good football in November, that’s what it’s all about,” Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said.

• UNLV DISCIPLINE — In his ongoing effort to crack down on personal fouls, UNLV coach Mike Sanford suspended wide receiver Casey Flair and center Joe Hawley for the first quarter of Saturday’s season finale at New Mexico. The exception is Flair will not be held out as the punt returner and holder.

Sanford made the decision because both are repeat offenders who committed such penalties in Saturday’s 34-10 loss at Texas Christian.

“We continue to take very strong action against personal fouls and penalties,” Sanford said. “We continue to do stuff after practice (with extra work). We’ve got to eliminate this problem.”

The status of senior wide receiver Aaron Straiten is uncertain. He was suspended for the Nov. 10 game against San Diego State and did not make the trip to TCU. Straiten is not listed on the two-deep roster for this game, though that could change.

“He was on suspension for off-the-field issues,” Sanford said. “The decision to not travel him had nothing to do with discipline.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2914.

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