PROVO — There will be no shortage of intriguing storylines when BYU faces San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl.
The Aztecs, co-champions of the Mountain West Conference, officially accepted an invitation Monday to play the Cougars in the bowl game at Qualcomm Stadium — SDSU's home field — on Dec. 20 (6 p.m. MST, ESPN).
It's a matchup that pits two former Western Athletic Conference and MWC rivals. The two schools met 13 consecutive times before BYU went independent in 2011. This will be the first meeting between the Cougars (7-5) and Aztecs (9-3) since 2010.
"This is a great day for college football in San Diego," Poinsettia Bowl president John Wertz said in a statement. "We're excited to renew a longtime rivalry between the Aztecs and Cougars in this year's bowl. This most certainly will be a game to remember for many years to come."
It will be the 35th game between the two teams, with BYU leading the all-time series, 27-7-1.
The Cougars officially accepted their bid to the Poinsettia Bowl after a 52-13 victory over Idaho on Nov. 10.
When SDSU coach Rocky Long was at New Mexico, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall served as his defensive coordinator for five seasons. Meanwhile, the Aztecs' current offensive coordinator is former Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
"We are looking forward to facing San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl," said Mendenhall. "I have a lot of respect for Rocky; he is a mentor and good friend. San Diego State is a very good team that won a share of the Mountain West title this season. Our team is anxious for the opportunity to continue to improve playing against a quality opponent."
The last time BYU and SDSU met, in 2010, the Cougars narrowly defeated the Aztecs, 24-21, at Provo in a game that featured a controversial video replay call after an apparent BYU fumble. The Cougars retained possession of the ball and ended up scoring a touchdown that sealed the victory.
Later, as a result of the ensuing controversy, the MWC instituted a policy that prevented anyone affiliated with the home team from working in the replay booth.
That game was also the first after Mendenhall fired Jaime Hill and took over the team's defensive coordinator responsibilities again.
While this will be BYU's first appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl, the program is no stranger to playing postseason games in San Diego. The Cougars have played in 11 Holiday Bowls, including seven in a row from the inaugural game in 1978 to 1984, when they claimed the national championship. BYU's last Holiday Bowl appearance was in 1993, when it fell to Ohio State, 28-21.
Under Mendenhall, BYU has posted a 5-2 record in bowl games, and it is riding a school-record three-game bowl winning streak.
The Aztecs won the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl with a 35-14 victory over Navy.
"We are honored to be selected to participate in the 2010 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl," Long said in a statement. "The Poinsettia Bowl is one of the best events I have ever been involved with, and it will be a tremendous experience for our student-athletes. Best of all, we will have the opportunity to play in front of our fans, and that will make for a great atmosphere on Dec. 20."
BYU closed out its regular season last Saturday with a 50-14 dismantling of New Mexico State, with senior quarterback James Lark throwing for 384 yards and six touchdowns in his first career start in place of injured starter Riley Nelson.
SDSU capped its regular season with a 42-28 victory at Wyoming last Saturday as Adam Muema ran for a career-high 255 yards and four touchdowns and Adam Dingwell threw two touchdown passes. The win secured the Aztecs a share of their first MWC title since 1998.
This season, SDSU set a school record for rushing with 2,750 yards, eclipsing the 2,476-yard mark set when Marshall Faulk was a freshman in 1991.
Poinsettia Bowl tickets are available at BYUtickets.com or by calling 800-322-BYU1 (2981).
Tickets cost $56 (plaza/field/loge) and $72 (club/press level), plus a $10 fee per order for shipping. General public bowl tickets will be filled based on the date of purchase.