Poinsettia Bowl Preview: BYU, San Diego State Try to Outscore the Name

Otto Kitsinger III

The Cougars and the Aztecs meet in a battle that has the potential to be a defensive slugfest. If the broadcasters can finish the name in time for the game to kick off

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: So we can make annual jokes about the longest name of any bowl game. That it has held the honor as long as it has in the era of the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio is something of a miracle

The Teams: BYU and San Diego State

How BYU got here: In every way imaginable. There were blowout win, double-digit losses and two games in which both BYU and its opponent scored exactly once apiece. (And the Cougars scored six points in each of those games.) BYU has a Top 5 defense in most of the major categories, though its passing efficiency defense is "just" ranked 27th in the nation and it's passing yardage defense is "just" ranked 13th. The offense is essentially middling. Depending on what you want to think about Georgia Tech, BYU basically lost to the good teams it faced and defeated the bad ones; aside from the Yellow Jackets, the Cougars' only quality win was against Utah State, if you want to call it that.

How San Diego State got here: On a seven-game winning streak. The Aztecs finished tied for the Mountain West Conference title with a 7-1 record with Boise State and Fresno State. The 12-point loss at Fresno State was the worst loss of the year for SDSU, which lost two non-conference games (at Washington, vs. San Jose State) by a combined 13 points. The Aztecs don't pass, um, at all; they rank 102nd in the nation in passing yardage. But they run. Both Adam Muema (112.9 ypg) and Walter Kazee (68.5) rank in the Top 100 nationwide in rushing yards per game. Overall, SDSU churns out more than 229 yards a contest.

College football fans care because: What else are going to do on a Thursday evening in December? Watch the NFL?

SEC fans care because: Well, I don't want to point out that it's a religious, independent team against a team with some red in its color scheme ...

Watch this game if...: You don't mind seeing a little defense.

The result: San Diego State 20, BYU 13

Line: BYU by 3.5

(Record straight up: 2-0; ATS 0-2)

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