San Diego State entered the 2012 bowl season tied with Arkansas State for the fourth-longest winning streak in the country at seven games in a row, behind a trio of teams (Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northern Illinois) with 12-game streaks.
In rather ugly fashion, that streak has come to a screeching halt.
Thanks in large part to a dazzling and dominating defensive performance from Kyle Van Noy, BYU pulled away late to stake its claim to a 23-6 win over the Aztecs in the (deep breath) San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The game, the third of the 2012-13 bowl season, featured nearly as many combined turnovers/punts (eight/15) as points.
It was, though, the fourth straight bowl win and sixth overall for the Cougars under head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
The latest postseason victory for Mendenhall was tied directly to both Van Noy and a wild 17-second sequence early in the fourth quarter. With BYU trailing 6-3 and its offense showing no signs of life, Van Noy strip-sacked Aztecs quarterback Adam Dingwell in the end zone and, for good measure, recovered the fumble for a touchdown and a 10-6 lead with 12:37 left in the game. On SDSU’s first play from scrimmage following that turnover, Van Noy forced another Dingwell fumble that was recovered by teammate Jordan Johnson.
One play later, a Jamaal Williams‘ 14-yard touchdown run — the extra point was missed — pushed the lead to 16-6 with 12:20 remaining.
As if to rub more salt in the Aztecs’ gaping wound, Van Noy intercepted a Dingwell pass six minutes later and returned it 17 yards for his second defensive touchdown of the quarter. For the game, the junior linebacker was credited with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one blocked punt to go along with his two scores.
Suffice to say, Van Noy was the overwhelming choice for game MVP honors for the Cougars, which finished their eighth season under Mendenhall at 8-5.
The loss kept San Diego State from the football program’s first 10-win season since 1977 as the Aztecs finished their final season in the Mountain West at 9-4. Next season, the Aztecs, along with fellow MWC member Boise State and a handful of Conference USA teams, will join the Big East. Probably.