Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Cougars and Aztecs. Aztecs and Cougars. And Poinsettias. It's on!
A bowl game in San Diego? Been there done that. But I sure wish Cal was doing it again. It beats not playing in a bowl game.
But I digress. Tonight the bowl season continues with the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Tonight's game features the Mountain West tri-champion San Diego State Aztecs (9-3, 7-1 Mtn West) against the independent BYU Cougars (7-5).
For the second time in three years, San Diego State won't have to travel for a postseason game as it welcomes the Cougars to Qualcomm Stadium for the Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night.
The Aztecs (9-3) are back on their home turf after beating Navy 35-14 in this bowl two years ago, and being in familiar surroundings is giving them a sense of comfort.
"When we got to the point that we were bowl eligible, we were hoping we were going to get to stay here at home for a lot of reasons," second-year coach Rocky Long said. "We wanted to stay home and play in front of and give our fans a chance to see us in a bowl game."
Those fans are getting an added bonus with a meeting against one of San Diego State's historical rivals. Until BYU (7-5) became independent last season, it had shared a conference with the Aztecs since 1978.
They'll meet for the first time since the Cougars won 24-21 in 2010, improving to 27-7-1 in the all-time series and 9-1 in the last 10 matchups.
Long, though, is downplaying the rivalry.
"I guess I haven't been here long enough to know if the Aztecs versus BYU is a big rivalry or not," he said. "I think there are a lot of people that were in the old (Western Athletic Conference) and Mountain West Conference that thought BYU was the rivalry."
He also has personal reasons to avoid any negative feelings.
"I was born in Provo," Long said. "My mom and dad both graduated from BYU. My dad played football and ran track at BYU. What makes you think I could hate them?"
Long was named Mountain West coach of the year after the Aztecs shared the conference title with No. 20 Boise State and Fresno State.
Oooh! A rivalry game in a bowl game! It's on like Donkey Kong!
This is your open thread for your Poinsettia Bowl viewing supplementation. Enjoy the game.