War of the Poinsettias in San Diego

Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

In each of Brigham Young wide receiver and Del Norte High graduate Cody Hoffman's first three seasons in Provo, the Cougars won their end-of-season bowl game.

The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl begins at 5 p.m. today at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (ESPN carries the game broadcast.) BYU, which finished 7-5 overall on its independent schedule, drew a bowl matchup against one of the hottest teams in the nation down the stretch.

San Diego State (9-3 overall, 7-1 Mountain West Conference) won its final seven games of the season. The Aztecs' win streak has been built on the efforts of sophomore running back Adam Muema (6.4 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns) and sophomore quarterback Adam Dingwell, who replaced injured starter Ryan Katz halfway through the season.

"They actually have put together a really bruising running game," said Stefanie Loh, Aztecs beat reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. "That's kind of been their bread and butter this year. "They're not quite as pass-heavy a team as they were last year.

"The defense has improved -- they've been awesome against the run. They haven't really been hurt against the pass since Fresno (State on Sept. 29, a 52-40 loss)."

San Diego State employs a 3-3-5 defense under head coach Rocky Long, often using safeties in run support and linebackers on blitzes.

Hoffman, a redshirt junior, can expect to line up against Aztecs cornerbacks Leon McFadden and Josh Wade for the majority of the game. Wade, a senior and San Diego native, covers on the right side of the defensive formation (the offense's left side), while McFadden, a senior and likely NFL draft choice, covers receivers on the left side.

"McFadden's like a shutdown corner," Loh said. "Wade can't hold his own, so they like to take shots at him. (Hoffman) may have a good day."

Reach Robert Husseman at rhusseman@triplicate.com .

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Wednesday August 24, 2016

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