It wasn’t pretty early in the game, but the BYU Cougars were able to distance themselves from the San Diego State Aztecs in the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The credit falls squarely on the Cougars’ defense, which has been the strength of the team all season. On Thursday night, they once again stepped up and gave BYU the bowl win.
With their offense struggling to move the ball, BYU stymied the SDSU offense on multiple defensive stands, even when put onto a short field by their offense’s miscues. At the half, BYU trailed just 6-3, which was miraculous given how poorly their offense had played for the first two quarters.
In the second half, the defense took the game over. They stepped up the pressure on the Aztecs’ offense, forcing five turnovers on the night and scoring a pair of touchdowns on a strip sack in the end zone and a pick six. Another interception gave the BYU offense first and goal where they punched the ball in for the only offensive touchdown of the night with 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The undoubted player of the game was linebacker Kyle Van Noy for BYU, finishing the night with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and recovery, an interception, a blocked punt and two touchdowns. He showed off his amazing versatility rushing the passer and dropping into coverage and likely punched his ticket as a first-day NFL draft pick.
The win continues the dominance that BYU has had over the Aztecs over their long history together, extending their winning streak to six straight games. The Aztecs made a lot of noise in the lead-up to this game about taking respect from the “rival” Cougars, but after another win for BYU, it’s safe to call this rivalry dead.
It can’t be a rivalry, after all, if you don’t win and the BYU offense made sure the Aztecs go nowhere near a win on Thursday night.