Utah will go bowling in Las Vegas

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah (No. 20 BCS, No. 21 AP) will try to extend the longest bowl winning streak in the nation to 10 at the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22, and San Diego State accepted an invitation to play in the hometown Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 against Navy.

Other Mountain West Conference teams accepting bowl bids Wednesday were Air Force, which is headed to the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 to play an ACC team, and BYU, which will play in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 18 in Albuquerque.

The Utes earned the trip after pulling off wild, comeback wins over San Diego State and BYU to close out the regular season at 10-2. This will be Utah's final game as a member of the Mountain West Conference as the Utes join the Pac-12 next year.

Utah's opponent in the Las Vegas bowl has yet to be announced, but Nevada is a possible candidate should it beat Louisiana Tech on Saturday. There has also been speculation that Boise State could end up in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"Las Vegas is a popular destination for Utah fans, as evidenced by the big crowds that have made the trip to attend our regular-season games against UNLV over the past several years," Utah athletic director Chris Hill said. "The proximity of Las Vegas to the majority of our fan base, along with good weather, world-class entertainment and a 10-2 Utah football team, should make this an attractive bowl game for our fans."

Utah is 2-0 in the event, having won the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl over Fresno State, 17-16, and the 2001 edition over Southern California by a score of 10-6.

The Utes started the season 8-0 and climbed as high as No. 6 in the nation before back-to-back losses to TCU and Notre Dame. Utah rebounded with wild comeback wins against San Diego State and rival BYU.

"It's been a while since we have played a bowl game in Las Vegas and our players and coaches are looking forward to the opportunity," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Air Force will learn its opponent Sunday. The Falcons finished the season 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain West for a third-place tie with BYU and San Diego State. They claimed the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with wins over Navy and Army this season, capturing the trophy for the 17th time.

San Diego State finished the regular season 8-4 under second-year coach Brady Hoke, who is being courted by Minnesota for its vacant job.

"I was never offered the job," Hoke said after the bowl bid was announced.

SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk said he thinks Minnesota's courtship of Hoke has ended. Sterk said SDSU is putting together a retention package for Hoke and his assistants that should be finalized in the next few weeks.

This will be SDSU's first postseason game since the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl.
Navy accepted a Poinsettia Bowl invitation on Nov. 6 after getting its sixth win.

BYU (6-6) won five of its last seven games to become bowl eligible. It'll be the Cougars' 29th bowl appearance, but their first in Albuquerque. They have won three of their last four bowl games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.