Poinsettia Bowl: BYU Cougars vs. Wyoming Cowboys

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: BYU Cougars vs. Wyoming Cowboys

Date: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

Location: Qualcomm Stadium | San Diego


Best moment: Let's go way back to Week 1 in Glendale, Arizona, for Kalani Sitake's head-coaching debut. BYU trailed Arizona by one point in the final seconds before freshman Jake Oldroyd hit a 33-yard field goal. The season-opening, 18-16 win also marked the return of senior quarterback Taysom Hill, who missed all but the opener last year because of a foot injury.

Lowest moment: The Cougars lost four games by a total of eight points, so there's a collection of low moments from which to choose. We're going with the first defeat, 20-19 in Week 2 to rival Utah. Down seven, the Cougars scored with 18 seconds to play. Overtime? Nope. Sitake went for the win, and Hill was stopped on the two-point conversion run.

Key player: The Hill era is over. He won't play in San Diego because of an elbow injury suffered in the regular-season finale against Utah State. Replacement Tanner Mangum gained experience a year ago, but the offensive load might fall on running back Jamaal Williams, who rushed for 1,165 yards in nine games -- including a BYU-record 286 against Toledo.

Motivation level: Nine wins would be nice. But BYU would've been in position for more, if not for losing four of its five games decided by three points or fewer. The Cougars might choose to use their close losses as a motivating factor to make a statement about the real strength of this team. Or it could go the other way. -- Mitch Sherman


Best moment: The Cowboys' 30-28 win over No. 13 Boise State over Halloween weekend. Wyoming won on a safety, but the Cowboys' play was a big statement and solidified their strong play at home all season. Wyoming held Boise State to just 2-of-8 on third-down conversions and forced two turnovers, earning its first win over a top-25 opponent since 2002.

Lowest moment: UNLV kicker Nicolai Bornand's game-winning 40-yard field goal in the third overtime gave Wyoming its third loss of the season. The Cowboys gave up 653 yards of offense and turned the ball over four times in a crucial conference defeat.

Key player: Running back Brian Hill didn’t take home Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year honors, but he has been pivotal to Wyoming's success. He ranks among the top 10 in FBS in rushing yards per game (139.5), rushing touchdowns (21), rushes for 10 or more yards (40) and 100-yard games (nine).

Motivation level: High. Comeback kids. A season after losing 10 of 12 games, the Cowboys came roaring back for not only an appearance in the Mountain West title game but also a postseason appearance. Not too shabby, Wyoming. The Cowboys will be hungry for a good showing in their first bowl game since the 2011 season, when they lost to Temple in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. -- Chantel Jennings