Michael Smith, AP
Wyoming's Brian Hill runs against San Diego State during the first half of an NCAA college football game for the Mountain West championship, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Laramie, Wyo. (AP Photo/Michael Smith)

PROVO — BYU will renew an old Western Athletic Conference and Mountain West Conference rivalry when it faces Wyoming on Dec. 21 in the Poinsettia Bowl.

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. MST at Qualcomm Stadium and will be televised by ESPN.

"Our guys are excited to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "Wyoming is a well-coached team that just played for the Mountain West championship. Coach Bohl and the Cowboys have had an impressive season, and Brian Hill is a great running back. We look forward to the game."

"It is a great opportunity to play an old rival in BYU," Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said. "For our fans, I know this matchup will be one they will be very excited about."

The Cowboys (8-5) won the MWC Mountain Division and fell to San Diego State, 27-24, in the league championship game Saturday.

BYU (8-4) and Wyoming played two common opponents this season — Boise State and Utah State. The Cougars lost to Boise State, 28-27, a little more than one week before the Cowboys handed the Broncos their first loss of the season, 30-28, in Laramie.

Wyoming running back Brian Hill is one of the nation’s top rushers, ranking No. 6 nationally in yards per game (135.9) and No. 4 in touchdowns (21) and rushing yards (1,767). Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen has thrown for 2,996 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

This BYU-Wyoming matchup will mark the 78th meeting between the two schools. The Cougars own a 44-30-3 edge in the series that began in 1922. BYU has won the last seven games and 10 out of the last 11.

The last time BYU played Wyoming in 2010 in Provo, the Cougars won, 25-20. It was BYU’s final season in the MWC. The last time the Cowboys won in the series was a 13-10 victory in Laramie in 2003.

“We’re fired up to get the Wyoming Cowboys to go up against BYU,” said Mark Neville, executive director of the San Diego Bowl Game Association. “They haven’t played in a San Diego bowl game in almost 30 years. We still remember those days when they were here and having some of the most enthusiastic fans in the country. We look forward to welcoming them to San Diego and rolling out the red carpet. I think we’re going to have a pretty darn good football game. This is an old rivalry from the old Mountain West and WAC days, and we look forward to kick-starting that rivalry once again.”

The Poinsettia Bowl will be the second neutral-site game between the two teams. The first took place 20 years ago, when No. 5 BYU defeated Wyoming 28-25 in overtime in the 1996 WAC championship game in Las Vegas. The Cougars ended up going to the Cotton Bowl, beating Kansas State and finishing with a 14-1 record.

The Cowboys are making their first bowl appearance since 2011 when they fell 35-17 to Temple in the New Mexico Bowl.

Wyoming opened the 2016 season with a 2-2 record before stringing together five consecutive victories. The Cowboys’ winning streak was snapped on Nov. 12, when they lost at UNLV, 69-66. Wyoming enters the Poinsettia Bowl on a two-game losing streak, having lost at New Mexico, 56-35, on Nov. 26 and then to SDSU Saturday.

Last week, coach Craig Bohl, who’s in his third season at the helm, signed a seven-year contract extension through 2023.

“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our players and our coaches,” Bohl said. “Having the Poinsettia Bowl select us to play in their game is a true honor and a great reward for our team. We are appreciative to the Poinsettia Bowl Committee for this opportunity to represent the state of Wyoming and the Mountain West Conference. It is also a great reward for our fans, who have been with us all season on this tremendous journey in bringing Cowboy football back to a prominent position in college football.”


Wyoming Cowboys at a glance

Conference: Mountain West

Record: 8-5

Head coach: Craig Bohl (14-23, 3 seasons at Wyoming; 118-55 overall, 14 seasons).

Offense: Junior running back Brian Hill has rushed 323 times for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Defense: Senior linebacker Lucas Wacha has recorded 98 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.

Special teams: Freshman place-kicker Cooper Rothe has made all 61 of his PATs this season, and he’s booted 13 of 20 field goal attempts, including a 46-yarder.

Series with BYU: BYU leads 44-30-3