San Diego State vs. BYU
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA
Radio: ESPN, KOGO, 95.7 FM & AM 600
Line: BYU by 3.5
Facts and History
-San Diego State (9-3, 7-1 MW) takes on BYU (7-5) for the 36th meeting between the two schools.
-The Cougars dominate the all time series (27-7-1) between the two programs.
-SDSU head coach Rocky Long is 2-9 all time against the Cougars while BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 5-1 versus the Aztecs.
-The Aztecs are riding a 7-game winning streak heading into the Poinsettia Bowl.
-San Diego State is ranked 50th and BYU 34th in the Sagarin Ratings.
When San Diego State Has The Ball
San Diego State offense has scored 21 plus points since the opener against Washington. Aztecs are 4-0 with Adam Dingwell as their starting quarterback. That's not the storyline though. SDSU wants to run while BYU has the #2 ranked defense in the nation, only behind Alabama. Cougars only allow 2.7 yards per carry due to the two defensive anchors in Kyle Van Noy and Ezekial Ansah. It doesn't stop there, as Brigham Young's passing defense is just as good, giving up 182 passing yards a contest.
"They have a really good defense," SDSU quarterback Adam Dingwell said of the BYU defense. "They are up there with the nation's best, but as an offense, we don't really focus too much on how good they are. It's about what we can do and how well we can execute the plays that we have called."
While the Adam Muema led rushing attack is #15 in the nation with 229.2 yards per game but is now Walter Kazee less after tearing his ACL in the regular season finale against Wyoming. Third string Chase Price will take over Kazee's role. Whoever wins the battle in the trenches could decide the Poinsettia Bowl. As for the passing game Dingwell will use the play action pass as much as possible with Gavin Escobar, Brice Butler and company being the beneficiaries.
When BYU Has The Ball
BYU's offense averages just a hair over 29 points per game. Cougars move the ball for around 409 total yards with 162 coming from the ground and 247 through the air.
"They are really good on offense," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "I just think that people try to compare them back to the years that BYU threw the ball 50 times a game. They are not that kind of offense anymore. They are more of a pro style offense where they want to try to run the ball and use play action pass. Their quarterbacks are really good athletes that scramble around and use their feet."
"I think that they play offense to their defense, because their defense is one of the top ranked defenses in the country, so a smart coach will have the offense tailored to the strength of the defense."
It's possible that the Cougars could play both quarterbacks: James Lark and Riley Nelson. Lark threw 384 yards and six touchdowns in his first career start in the regular season finale against New Mexico State. The main receiving target for BYU is junior wide receiver Cody Hoffman who has 90 receptions, 1134 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The other two options are tight ends J.D. Falslev and Kaneakus Friel who have combined for seven touchdowns on the year. Freshman running back Jamaal Williams has come on strong late in the season with a total 744 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
San Diego State's defense has played well this season when not playing against a spread offense. So expecting the Cougars' pro style attack will be an advantage for the Aztecs.
Edge: San Diego State
Aztecs special teams unit has progressively gotten better this season. Kicker Chance Marden has made 8 of his last 9 field goals but has not attempted a kick since the miss against Boise State. SDSU wide receiver Colin Lockett has two kickoff return touchdowns this season. BYU kicker Justin Sorenson is a horrid 5-of-11 on field goals this season. Punter Riley Stephenson has over half his 51 punts go for 50+ yards and nearly half land inside the 20. Longest kick/punt return by the Cougars all season was just 44 yards.
Edge: San DIego State
"When you're at home, all the guys my guys run around with are here," SDSU head coach Rocky Long explained of distractions playing at home. "They're coming to the game. All their buddies are here, their families are all here, and their girlfriends are all here. There are a lot more distractions when you're at home then when you go off some place. But then we've got the advantage that we practice on our same practice field; we meet in our same meeting rooms. Thanks to BYU, we're going to be in our same locker room, because they had first choice and they were nice enough to let us have the one we're normally in. So all that is better, but the distractions are more."
Poinsettia Bowl will be won at the line of scrimmage. Who will enforce their will against the opposition? All season regardless of the opponent the Aztecs offensive line has been able to dominate in the running game and it won't stop now. BYU has five impressive losses to Utah, Boise State, Oregon State, Notre Dame and San Jose State. Guess what? The Aztecs are an impressive team. San Diego State will squeak by in the final minutes topping off this historic season with a Poinsettia Bowl victory in front of the home crown, winning their 8th game in a row.
San Diego State 24 BYU 20
Poinsettia Bowl Breakdown: BYU vs. SDSU
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