Home » Blog » San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State Aztecs Vs. BYU Cougars

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State Aztecs Vs. BYU Cougars

The Aztecs don’t have to travel far to play in the 2012 Poinsetta Bowl, where they’ll face their former conference rival and current 3.5-point favorite BYU Cougars. “When we got to the point that we were bowl eligible, we were hoping we were going to get to stay here at home for a lot of reasons,” second-year coach Rocky Long said. “We wanted to stay home and play in front of and give our fans a chance to see us in a bowl game.”

San Diego State went 9-3 this year, and beat No. 19-ranked Boise State on November 3. The Aztecs also have momentum on their side; they have not lost a game since their 52-40 loss to Fresno State on September 29.

“We knew at 2/3 that we needed to win games, and we prepared hard every week,” senior offensive lineman Alec Johnson said. “We got better each week and that’s a testament to the coaches.” The Aztecs have their chance to put up the school’s first eight game winning streak since 1975. If they do it, they’re going to do it on the ground.

Led by sophomore running back Adam Muema (1,355 yards, 6.4 yards per rush, 16 touchdowns), the Aztecs had one of the best rushing attacks in the entire nation, ranked 15th in rushing yards per game with 229.2. However, this is going to be a textbook case of strength versus strength; the Cougars have one of the stiffest defenses, particularly run defense, in the entire nation. BYU’s D ranks third in the FBS overall, allowing only 266.3 yards per game. They’re ranked second against the run, allowing only 84.3 yards per game. Enough can’t be said about their defense: they’re ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense, giving up 14.7 points per game. This is a classic example of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, and it will be fascinating to see which prevails. Vegas, by favoring BYU by 3.5 points, clearly thinks that the Cougars’ stiff run D will find success, and I tend to agree.

The Aztecs are 9-3 while BYU is 7-5, but BYU’s competition has been fiercer this season. They played three ranked teams to San Diego State’s one, and oh, by the way: one of those ranked teams was then-No. 5-ranked Notre Dame, the team that’s playing in the national championship. And oh, by the way again: BYU lost to them 17-14.

“That’s a bracket buster team in basketball parlance, that’s a darned good football team,” Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. “Our kids hung in there and won the football game.” In other words, beware of BYU. They’re better than you think.

No one besides Notre Dame has been able to run on BYU this season, and I don’t think it starts here. Even Georgia Tech’s vaunted rushing attack could get nothing going versus the Cougars when the two teams met in a 41-17 BYU blowout. As good as the Aztecs are on the ground ,particularly Muema, it’s going to be tough for them to find any traction against a BYU offensive line that has two potential NFL  first-round draft picks.

I like the Cougars to win by a touchdown here. Their offense has struggled at times this season, dealing with a revolving door of quarterbacks and an inconsistent ability to score points, but the matchups simply favor them heavily against the Aztecs. In virtually every case, the dominant run defense shuts down the dominant rushing offense, particularly when that offense, like the Aztecs’, has cut its teeth on inferior competition while the defense has faced the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon State, Boise State and Georgia Tech. Take BYU at -3.5.

  • 100%