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BYU football: Cougars and Cowboys will finally meet again — in the Poinsettia Bowl

Published December 5, 2016 4:10 pm

BYU football • An old rivalry is revived as Cougars get pitted against Wyoming in Poinsettia Bowl.
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Provo • Six years after their forced separation, former Western Athletic and Mountain West conference foes BYU and Wyoming will meet again on the football field.

The 8-4 Cougars will face the 8-5 Cowboys in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, bowl officials announced Sunday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. MST and the game will be televised by ESPN.

"Our guys are excited to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a school news release. "Wyoming is a well-coached team. … Coach [Craig] Bohl and the Cowboys have had an impressive season and Brian Hill is a great running back. We look forward to the game."

It will be the first meeting between the teams that some considered rivals, and some didn't, since BYU's 25-20 win at LaVell Edwards Stadium when freshman Jake Heaps quarterbacked the Cougars in their final season in the MWC. BYU leads the series 44-30-3 and has won the last seven matchups.

"It is a great opportunity to play an old rival in BYU," said Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman. "For our fans, I know this matchup will be one they will be very excited about."

Poinsettia Bowl officials didn't get the hometown team, San Diego State, because the Aztecs downed the Cowboys 27-24 in the MWC championship game at Laramie on Saturday night and are headed to the Las Vegas Bowl. But they are thrilled with the pairing of two former foes from bordering states who have the reputation of traveling well.

The Cougars played in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2012 and outdrew SDSU fans at Qualcomm in a 23-6 victory. It will be the 12th straight bowl appearance for BYU, and first bowl for Wyoming since it lost 35-17 to Temple in the New Mexico Bowl in 2011.

Wyoming went 6-2 in the MWC's Mountain Division, tied with Boise State and New Mexico, but made it to the championship game because it owned the tiebreakers over the Broncos and Lobos. The Cowboys led SDSU 10-0 early, fell behind 24-10, then rallied before falling a field goal short.

Wyoming's last appearance in a San Diego bowl game was in 1988, when it lost 62-14 to Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl.

"It has been way too long," said Mark Neville, executive director of the Poinsettia Bowl. "We can't wait to roll out the red carpet for the Cowboys football team and all their fans."

BYU and Wyoming last tangled in a postseason game 20 years ago. The Cougars edged the Cowboys 28-25 in overtime in the 1996 WAC championship game before moving on to the Cotton Bowl. Wyoming was not invited to a bowl game that year, despite being ranked No. 22 in the country and finishing 10-2.

There were only 18 bowls in 1996, however.

In 2016, Wyoming features a solid quarterback, an outstanding running back, an inconsistent defense and a coach who just signed a new seven-year contract that takes him through 2023.

Running back Brian Hill has rushed for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns; Quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for 2,996 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions.

The Cougars have won seven of their last eight games and are ranked No. 31 in ESPN's Football Power Index. They lost four games by a combined eight points.

Along with the reunion of former conference foes, a major storyline will be the running backs battle. BYU features senior Jamaal Williams, who is No. 8 in the nation at 129.4 rushing yards per game.

BYU is No. 8 in the nation in rush defense, allowing just 108.4 rushing yards per game.

For Poinsettia Bowl tickets, go to BYUtickets.com.


Twitter: @drewjay —

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 21, 2016

At Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5), 7 p.m. MST







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