Poinsettia Bowl Preview
Brigham Young Cougars vs Wyoming Cowboys
Two old WAC and Mountain West foes meet for the first time since 2010 in San Diego on December 21 for the Poinsettia Bowl(Enter Contest). This will also be BYU’s 12 consecutive bowl trip, while Wyoming is making its first bowl trip since 2011.
The Cougars won’t have quarterback Taysom Hill for this game. The senior suffered a season-ending arm injury in the finale against Utah State. Although Hill is a big loss, backup Tanner Mangum is a proven option. He threw for 3,377 yards and 23 scores in 2015. Running back Jamaal Williams capped a standout career in Provo with 1,165 rushing yards this season and is a tough matchup for a Wyoming rush defense allowing just over 200 yards per game. After a 6-18 start to his tenure in Laramie, Craig Bohl guided Wyoming to an 8-5 record and a Mountain Division title this fall. Brian Hill is one of the top running backs in the Group of 5 ranks, and quarterback Josh Allen has delivered a breakout year (26 TDs) in his first season as the starter.
ABOUT BYU (8-4)
The Cougars’ rushing defense is eighth in the country at 108.4 yards allowed per game. BYU senior Jamaal Williams rushed for 1,165 and 11 TDs despite missing three of the last five games with an ankle injury. He’ll face a Wyoming defense that allows 34.8 points per game. Williams rushed for 618 yards and nine scores in a three-game stretch versus West Virginia, Toledo and Michigan State this season, including a school-record five TDs and a career-high 286 yards against Toledo. The 6 feet-2 inches, 220 pounds player rushed for 131 yards and collected a score on 18 carries in a 28-10 victory over Utah State in the Cougars’ last contest.
Mangum saw action in the last three games. He completed 14-of-18 pass for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback appears to be less of a running threat than Hill (603 yards, eight TDs this season) although he carried seven times for 30 yards in 2016 after not recording an attempt in 2015. Only one of the Cougars’ eight victories came against a winning FBS team (9-3 Toledo) while the four-game winning streak they ride saw them outscore clubs with a combined 15-32 record 136-29, including 37-7 over FCS member Southern Utah (6-5). BYU’s four losses to Utah, UCLA, West Virginia and Boise State were by a combined eight points while their victories include Arizona, Michigan State and Cincinnati on the road, along with Mississippi State and Toledo at home.
ABOUT WYOMING (8-5, 6-2 MWC)
Craig Bohl made a name for himself by coaching North Dakota State to three consecutive FCS titles from 2011-13 before taking on the challenge of bringing the Cowboys back to respectability. Bohl was 6-18 in his first two seasons before nearly leading Wyoming to an MWC championship. They lost to San Diego State 27-24 in the conference title game December 3. Bohl was named MWC Coach of the Year. The Cowboys didn’t waste much time extending his contract through 2023.
Sophomore Josh Allen (2,996 yards, 26 touchdown passes) appears capable of exploiting the air weakness in the Cougars’ defense, although his 13 interceptions are cause for concern. Senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry (18.7 yards per 65 receptions, 12 touchdowns) is Allen’s favorite target. Senior tight end Jacob Hollister boasts seven TDs among his 30 receptions. Wyoming’s non-conference schedule included a 40-34 triple-overtime victory over Northern Illinois and a 52-17 loss at Nebraska.