WHO: BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5)
WHAT: The 12th San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
THE SKINNY: Former conference foes square off in this year’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl when BYU faces Wyoming in San Diego. The two once faced each other regularly in the WAC and the Mountain West Conference before BYU opted to go independent in football during a massive conference realignment process, but this will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2010.
BYU lost starting quarterback Taysom Hill to a season-ending injury in the last game of the regular season so it will be Tanner Mangum getting the start at quarterback for the Cougars, which means a slightly different offensive approach. BYU likes to run the football, as they should with Jamaal Williams among the nation’s leading rushers with 1,165 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns this season, but having Mangum at quarterback could lead to more passing plays for the Cougars. Mangum passed for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns a season ago, so you know he is capable of tossing the ball around if called for.
Wyoming will look to end a wonderful turn-around season on a high note. In Craig Bohl’s third season as head coach of the program after leaving behind FCS juggernaut North Dakota State, Bohl has built a winner. Wyoming won just two game sin 2015 but put together eight wins this season and captured the Mountain Division championship to play for the Mountain West Conference championship. Though the Cowboys came up short in the conference championship game (losing to San Diego State), the Cowboys won games during the regular season against San Diego State and Boise State as well as Air Force and Colorado State. Progress has already been made under Bohl, but a bowl victory against BYU would be a fitting end to a successful season.
Wyoming will look to get running back Brian Hill in rhythm, but doing so against BYU’s defensive front should prove to be one of the more difficult challenges faced this season. Defense is where BYU has the advantage against Wyoming, and it should prove to be the difference in what should be an entertaining Poinsettia Bowl.
THE PREDICTION: BYU 34, Wyoming 30