Thursday, December 20, 2012
Pregame: Poinsettia Bowl
By Andrea Adelson
San Diego State (9-3, 7-1 Mountain West) vs. BYU (7-5)
WHO TO WATCH: Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. There is probably nobody rising faster and higher on NFL draft boards than Ansah, a revelation for the Cougars this season. He has only lived in the United States for a few years, leaving his native Ghana with the hope of playing basketball for BYU. But he was cut twice after tryouts and then found his way to football. Ansah began the season on the bench and only became a starter in Week 5. But when he did, he showed what a force he can be -- and now, Scouts Inc. lists Ansah as the No. 19 player available for the draft.
WHAT TO WATCH: San Diego State's run game versus BYU's defense. The Aztecs have had plenty of success running the ball this season behind Adam Muema, who has 1,355 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. But the Cougars have been outstanding all season on defense -- ranking No. 3 in the nation in total defense and No. 2 in rushing defense. BYU allowed five rushing touchdowns all season and just 2.71 yards a carry, so this matchup will be one of the biggest keys to the game.
WHY TO WATCH: These teams have a bit of history between them, as former conference rivals. BYU holds a 27-7-1 edge in the series and won the last time the teams played in 2010. Also, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and San Diego State coach Rocky Long coached together at two programs. Mendenhall served as defensive coordinator when Long was head coach at New Mexico from 1998-2002. He also worked with Long at Oregon State in 1995 as a defensive line coach when Long was the Beavers’ defensive coordinator.
PREDICTION: BYU 20, San Diego State 17.