ATI 2.16 – SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl Game Preview

Ask the IneligiblesSDCCU Bowl 2012Rumors abound regarding who will get the start on Friday in the Bowl game.  Give me which team wins and why in each scenario:

James LarkJames Lark gets all the 1st team reps and starts

Carl – BYU wins and probably wins convincingly.  Blue goggles fully set aside, Lark has the higher quarterback IQ.  He was raised as a quarterback, not as an athlete who tries to translate that athleticism into being a quarterback.  9 out of 10 casual fans agree they’d rather see Lark and that Lark gives the Cougars the better chance of winning.  Bottom line is BYU needs to be effective throwing the ball in order to keep open holes for Jamaal Williams to run through.

Matt – If James Lark starts (as I expect he will) this is a no-brainer, the Cougs win resoundingly.  I know that SDSU is not NMSU, but that doesn’t mean lark isn’t capable of tossing three touchdowns and leading the team down where speedy youngster Jamaal Williams (did you know he was only 17?) to run in one or two more scores.

Mike – BYU wins as they become more efficient offensively. SDSU isn’t NMSU but with the offensive weapons at Lark’s disposal, I see BYU with a very good chance to win. Defensively, we could see one of BYU’s best games if the offense is clicking. Defenses seem to play harder when the offense isn’t turning the ball over or struggling to score points.

TomBYU wins with Lark managing the game and making plays when needed. With zero turnovers on offense and the defense completely dominating the game, BYU cruises to a 31 to 10 win.

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson

Riley Nelson gets all the 1st team reps and starts

Carl – San Diego State wins.  I’m not saying he can’t lead BYU to a win.  What I am saying is San Diego State will make things extra difficult on him.  They’ll pressure the box to make sure Riley passes the football in order to beat them.  If the nation can’t figure it out on film that Riley Nelson cannot throw beyond 10 yards, then shame on them!  And the more often SDSU puts eight men in the box and pressures Riley and the offensive line, the more Riley will be prone to mistakes.  It’s the mistakes that have caused BYU three wins and it’s these same mistakes that will lose the game on Thursday if he were the starter.

Matt – If Nelson starts and takes most of the reps, this game will be hard to watch.  The defense will have to play so much better.  So much more has to go just right. I think that the strength of the SDSU offense plays right into the strength of the BYU defense.  Notre Dame was still able to run, but a bulk of their yardage was in several big plays.  Oregon State was able to run because they could spread the defense out in the passing game.  SDSU is not Notre Dame and they are awful in the passing game.  The Coug defense keeps them under their average and keeps the game close enough that Noodle-Arm Nelson can manage the game well enough to a win.

Mike – BYU will have their hands full. BYU fans have not seen a version of Riley like they might in San Diego. Riley is completely hell bent on being a Hall of Fame BYU quarterback at all costs. Look for Riley to go down with guns blazing trying too hard to make plays he simply can’t. The “Riley Moments” will take their toll on the offensive and defensive morale. In this case, I see SDSU being too much for our Cougs.

Tom – BYU wins with Nelson being and playing exactly like we have seen all year by putting us in tough spots and taking chances. Nelson will throw 2 interceptions or 1 interception and lose a fumble (you choose) and will put our defense in tough situations. Once again our defense will be keeping us in the game. BYU ends up winning a close one 24 to 17.

wins by run effWhich one stat will Cougar fans be able to look at on Friday to determine if we won or lost the bowl game?

Carl – I’m going with an individual stat…BYU’s quarterback needs to have a four in the passing touchdowns column in order to win.  BYU will have to pass to win.  If we see that glorious number, BYU will win the Poinsettia Bowl.

Matt – Rushing yards per attempt for SDSU.  They are averaging over five yards per carry this season and over 220 yards per game.  BYU will need to hold them well below both those numbers and if they do, BYU will be in control from kickoff to the final whistle.

Mike – Turnovers. Turnovers have been so critical in BYU’s losses this season. With BYU and SDSU being evenly matched, look for turnovers to be a critical part of the outcome.

Tom – The one stat the Cougar fans will be able to look at to determine if we won or lost will be the Turnover Margin. If we are even or plus than there is no way BYU will lose.

Lark and NelsonAs it appears, James Lark will start the Poinsettia Bowl with Riley Nelson possibly getting some short yardage plays.  If BYU beats San Diego State with Lark at the helm, are BYU fans ecstatic for a Poinsettia Bowl/ James Lark victory or frustrated by wondering what a James Lark led 2012 season could have been?

Carl – Frustrated beyond belief.  But Cougar Nation should not dwell on it too long.  Let the BYU coaches, staff and athletic department learn from their mistakes.  I’m not worried about the product on the field long-term.  Next year will be challenging given the match-ups, but this year wasn’t a talent problem.  There was enough available talent on the team this season to go 10-2 and be ranked in the top 20.  It was a coaching problem. They’ll either figure it out, or not be coaching.

Matt – I’m excited for the Bowl game win both as a fan and for James Lark.  I think he deserves nothing less than a win in this bowl game to legitimize his back up career.  But simultaneously, I’m frustrated.  We all know that Nelson was incapable of being the on-the-field leader he believes his is and that Lark would have been a better option.  It just seems to me that this whole quarterback drama has been a big “up yours” from Bronco to the fan base.

Mike – This BYU fan will be frustrated. I know it sounds like a damned if they do damned if they don’t scenario, but this is  where BYU’s coaching staff has lead us. Lark is the right quarterback and if he leads BYU to a bowl victory I think many in Cougar Nation will wonder about the decision making process with this staff.

Tom – Very frustrated by wondering what could have been for BYU.

Fiesta bowlNot since 1996 has BYU been in a perceived “Big” bowl game.  As a BYU fan, what constitutes a good bowl experience?

Carl – Some bowl game after Christmas.  Although there are ‘filler’ bowl games interspersed throughout bowl season, bowl season doesn’t start for me until after Christmas.  It’s like an identity complex.  All the bowls before December 25th are second rate and BYU’s been buried in these early games for decades.  I’m also feeling that BYU has the ability to obtain contracts with bowls with payouts for more than $500,000.  Get to a game that pays out more.  BYU has a better brand than Pioneer Pure Vision, San Diego County Credit Union, Armed Forces or New Mexico.  BYU deserves better.

Matt – If we are talking about what would be a “big” bowl game for BYU, I would say anything after Christmas, but preferably after on or after New Years.  If we are talking about what makes a good bowl experience, (since I’ve never attended a bowl game) I would say getting the win in an entertaining game.

Mike – Good opponent, national exposure and a good location. I remember the Liberty Bowl year wondering what poor saps where going to following BYU across the country in late December to watch a poor matchup. Cheesy as it sounds beating up on the PAC 12 in the Las Vegas Bowl was a great bowl experience. It obviously wasn’t the BCS Bowl we all want but it was always a good time. As for the Poinsettia Bowl vs. SDSU it truly feels like an average MWC week to me.

Tom – A good bowl experience constitutes WINNING.

HappyCan BYU salvage the 2012 season with a Poinsettia Bowl victory over SDSU?

Carl – No possible way.  Just can’t justify losing the games we did.  This season goes down as one full of mistakes and bad decisions for future BYU teams to look back on as what not to do.

Matt – There is no salvaging the season now.  Not even if we get Cody Hoffman to 100 receptions (he needs only 10) or Jamaal Williams to 1000 yards (he needs about 250) or watch James Lark toss another 3+ touchdowns.  This season is and was mired in poor coaching decisions, poor leadership, poor offensive line play, and poor on-the-field leadership from our gritty senior quarterback.  And its really too bad because even a decent offense combined with this defense could have given Cougar fans something to talk about for the ages.  Instead, now we just think about what could have been.

Mike – I don’t see how this season can be salvaged frankly. As a fan I’d like to see Lark start and the defense show up one last time. As for winning or losing, I’m for the outcome that forces Bronco to adjust his staff and schemes so we aren’t replicating this season in 2013.

Tom – For me this season will be looked at as a total failure if we lose on Thursday. If we win on Thursday I will look at this season with a little more positively. Winning the Poinsettia Bowl will not salvage the season.

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