SAN DIEGO – With their 37-7 victory over Southern Utah Saturday afternoon, Head Coach Kalani Sitake and the BYU Cougars notched their sixth win of the season, giving them a berth in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The 12th annual bowl game kicks off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21st at Qualcomm Stadium.
“BYU has played a huge role in the growth of San Diego’s bowl games dating back to 1978, when they faced the Navy Midshipmen in the very first Holiday Bowl,” said 2016 bowl game president, Ted Tollner. “I can’t wait to welcome the Cougars back to San Diego next month to play in the Poinsettia Bowl for the second time. Coach Sitake and his coaching staff have this team playing a very exciting brand of football that is going to make for a memorable evening at Qualcomm Stadium.”
This will mark the second time BYU has played in the Poinsettia Bowl. In 2012 the Cougars topped the hometown San Diego State Aztecs 23-6 in front of 35,442 fans behind an unforgettable performance by linebacker Kyle Van Noy. For the game, Van Noy notched 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, an interception that was returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt.
BYU has also played in 11 Holiday Bowls, the last one in 1993. The Cougars lost that game to the Ohio State Buckeyes 28-21. BYU’s overall Holiday Bowl record is 4-6-1, the lone tie being a 13-13 defensive battle against the Iowa Hawkeyes. In the 1984 game, the Cougars defeated the Michigan Wolverines 24-17 to finish their season undefeated and clinch a National Championship. The Holiday Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl games are both produced by the San Diego Bowl Game Association.
“BYU has a storied bowl tradition in San Diego and we are excited to receive the formal invitation to play in this year’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said. “Coach Sitake, his staff and our team have done an outstanding job this season in their first year together. San Diego is a great destination for fans of BYU Football and we have always loved the opportunity to play there. Mark Neville, Coach Ted Tollner, and all the staff with the San Diego Bowl Games do an incredible job putting on the game and we very much look forward to this opportunity.”
With today’s win the Cougars improved to 6-4 on the season. They play two more games at home to close out the regular season – November 19th versus UMass and November 26th against Utah State. An agreement between BYU and the Poinsettia Bowl outlined terms wherein the Cougars would play in the 2016 bowl game if they became bowl eligible with six wins.
BYU has played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year while suffering four losses by a combined eight points. Three of the Cougars’ defeats came by a combined five points on the road against current top-25 teams. BYU boasts a defense that has excelled at forcing turnovers, ranking No. 3 nationally entering Saturday’s game in both total turnovers (22) and passes intercepted (15). Leading the way is senior safety Kai Nacua, who ranks No. 2 in the nation with five interceptions.
Led by senior running back Jamaal Williams and senior quarterback Taysom Hill, the BYU offense features an almost perfectly balanced attack that totaled 1,748 rushing yards and 1,746 passing yards entering Saturday’s action. Williams entered the weekend ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing yards per game, averaging 129.3 yards each outing. He became BYU’s career rushing leader earlier this season and also set the single-game mark with a 286-yard, five-touchdown performance in BYU’s 55-53 win over Toledo.
This will mark the 35th bowl appearance in the program’s history. BYU has a 13-20-1 record in bowl games and will be making its 12th straight bowl appearance. Most recently the Cougars were defeated by Utah 35-28 in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl.
BYU’s opponent will be a top team from the Mountain West.
Tickets for the 2016 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl include free access to an all-new pregame family experience called Dexcom WinterFest. Tickets can be purchased by calling the bowl office at (619)-285-5061, or online at SanDiegoBowlGames.com and through Ticketmaster.