Tom Smart, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Raymond (31) makes a touchdown catch as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012 Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012,in Provo, Utah.

SAN DIEGO — BYU players, coaches, administrators — and their families — arrived Sunday afternoon eager to enjoy bowl week festivities in San Diego as they prepare for the Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl.

The team is headquartered at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Resort.

"It's beautiful weather and a beautiful atmosphere," said senior offensive lineman Braden Brown. "It's going to be a good football game."

The Cougars, who meet San Diego State Thursday night, will practice at Helix High School Monday and Tuesday. Monday afternoon, BYU will visit Sea World and take in the San Diego Zoo Tuesday.

Freshman running back Jamaal Williams, who hails from Southern California, said his family plans to join him at Sea World and the zoo. "I can't wait," Williams said.

When coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked if he would find time to surf, he replied, "Doesn't look like there's going to be time (to go surfing). Destination unknown right after the bowl game, though, the next day."

The Cougars are happy to be playing a bowl game before Christmas.

"I hate sitting around. I want to go play football, then enjoy the holidays after," said quarterback James Lark. "I love having it before Christmas so we don't have this long wait in between and we don't get too rusty. We can just get ready and go play. It's nice to be the only bowl game that day, so we don't have to share the spotlight."

MESSAGE TO BYU FANS: Poinsettia Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said Cougar fans coming to San Diego will have a great experience.

"The Poinsettia Bowl and the Holiday Bowls are equals. If you came to the Holiday Bowl in the early years and you remember the pageantry and all the things we do with the Holiday Bowl, we do that with the Poinsettia Bowl," he said. "It's going to be a lot of great fireworks and a great college football atmosphere. We try to do it right down here. We hope the fans enjoy their trip to San Diego. Heck, it will be sunny and 65 degrees. Maybe 70, if we're lucky. The weather is going to be beautiful. Great weather, great football and a lot of pageantry. That's what we want to provide to the BYU fans."

BOWL BENEFITS: BYU is going bowling for the eighth consecutive season. That is a selling point for recruits.

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"It's always addressed, because we've never not gone," said Mendenhall. "So when players consider coming to BYU, they're going to play an extra game. That's the beginning. The next part becomes how well we play in those. It matters to me to play well and it matters to me to finish the season on a high note, it matters for our seniors in providing that experience. I just like the feeling a lot better when you end on that note while having a great experience at that game."

Does it matter to players where they play the bowl game?

"I used to think so. I think now it's more the opponent they play," Mendenhall said. "Then as they get into this week, I think they're happy to be wherever they are. I haven't noticed much different reaction of the different games we've been to. They just like playing one more game."