BYU football: Independent Cougs remain attractive to bowls, Bronco says
New possibilities await after current bowl agreements end.
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Provo • Last year, BYU defeated Tulsa 24-21 in the Armed Forces Bowl in its first year of independence. The Cougars (7-5) play San Diego State (9-3) in the Poinsettia Bowl next week.

And in 2013, BYU is scheduled to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, provided it is bowl-eligible (with six wins) and not invited to play in a BCS game.

It is all part of a series of deals that BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe worked out shortly after BYU announced its independence, ensuring the Cougars would have a place to play in the postseason.

What happens in 2014?

Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday that BYU is already hearing from certain bowls — he didn't specify which ones — that want to sign up the Cougars down the road.

"I don't have any really ideal preferences," Mendenhall said regarding possible postseason destinations. "Bowls have already contacted us, saying they would have a sincere interest, because of not only [the idea] that they can expect us to be there, but we travel so well."

Many contracts that conferences have with bowl games will expire after next season as college football moves away from the BCS system and into a four-team playoff to decide a national champion.

"We have kind of been reached out to, over the last couple of years, pretty heavily," Mendenhall said. "It will be interesting to see how that [goes], and where we might end up."

Stephenson, Van Noy named AP All-Americans

For the first time since 1990, BYU has two players on the AP All-America college football teams. Senior punter Riley Stephenson made the second team and junior linebacker Kyle Van Noy made the third team.

In 1990, tight end Chris Smith and quarterback Ty Detmer made the team.

Stephenson is second in the nation in punting with a 47.31 average per punt. Van Noy is 11th in the country in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss.

Also Tuesday, Stephenson was named to the SI.com 2012 All-America Second Team, while Van Noy and junior receiver Cody Hoffman were honorable mention selectees.

Alisa on the mend

When starting running back Mike Alisa suffered a fractured arm on Sept. 28 against Hawaii, doctors said the junior would be out eight to 10 weeks. Sure enough, Alisa is back practicing, but Mendenhall said Monday it is too early to declare Alisa ready to play in the bowl game.

"Mike came out and ran around a little bit today," Mendenhall said. "He came out in his gear today, so he is still a ways off, but it was good to see him running around a little bit."

Briefly

BYU has received a commitment from Francis Bernard, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound running back from Herriman High, according to Herriman coach Larry Wilson. Bernard will go on an LDS Church mission before enrolling. He rushed for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns in nine games and also made 24 tackles as a defensive player. ... Mendenhall said Monday that center Braden Hansen is "day to day" with a nagging groin injury and it is not certain whether the senior will play in the Poinsettia Bowl. —

Poinsettia Bowl

P BYU vs. San Diego State

• Thursday, Dec. 20,in San Diego

TV • ESPN —

Utah's Lotulelei a first-team All-American

Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei was named to the first-team All-America team by the Associated Press on Tuesday. Lotulelei finished the season with 42 tackles, five sacks, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and four pass breakups.

No. 2-ranked Alabama led the nation with four first-team selections. The All-America team is listed in Scoreboard, Page D6.