Poinsettia Bowl 2012: 5 BYU Starters Better Than San Diego State Counterparts

Samuel Benson@@sambbensonContributor IIIDecember 11, 2012

Poinsettia Bowl 2012: 5 BYU Starters Better Than San Diego State Counterparts

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    The Poinsettia Bowl is only 10 days away.

    Crazy, right? It seems like yesterday that James Lark demolished New Mexico State.

    This year's matchup should be as entertaining as ever, as two former MWC rivals, BYU and San Diego State, will be pitted against each other. Although there are still several question marks when it comes to Cougar starters, particularly at quarterback, there are also many interesting matchups to watch out for.

    In this slideshow, we'll look at positional matchups that BYU should win (not cornerback vs. wide receiver, but receiver vs. receiver). Some of these picks may be surprising, but here are players that I think will be their Aztec counterparts.

Cody Hoffman (WR)

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    When it comes to the receiving end of BYU's passing game, Cody Hoffman is easily the most lethal weapon for the Cougars. Hoffman has brought down 90 catches for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns, while averaging 12.6 yards per catch.

    Compared to San Diego State's leading receiver, Brice Butler, Hoffman has the easy edge. Butler has caught only 23 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns, and although SDSU is a predominantly rushing offense, there is not much of a competition between the two.

Kyle Van Noy (LB)

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    Kyle Van Noy is one of the best linebackers BYU has had in years, and as a junior, he is projected to be taken early in the second round of the NFL draft (via CBSSports.com). With 43 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks on the year, he is one of BYU's best pass-rushers.

    In comparison, Van Noy has 7.5 more TFL's and 4.5 more sacks on the year than SDSU linebacker Jake Fely. Also, "KVN" is ranked 11th in the nation in sacks, while Fely is tied for 50th.

Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (DE)

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    Although Kyle Van Noy's numbers are impressive, if you thought that he is BYU's best defensive player, you are likely wrong. Ezekiel Ansah, a 6'6", 275-pound native of Ghana, is quite the athlete. Despite his size, Ansah has clocked a 21.9 200-yard dash, and has 4.5 sacks and eight pass deflections on the year.

    "Ziggy" is projected to be a surprise in the first round of the NFL draft, most likely going in the late 20s. He  will likely be the defensive player that will stand out during the bowl game, and he won't disappoint.

Braden Hansen (C)

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    Despite being hobbled for the middle of BYU's season with a groin injury, Braden Hansen is back to anchor the Cougar offensive line. A 6'6", 307-pound center, Hansen is a tough guy for defensive players to get around.

    Alec Johnson, the Aztec center, is a good three inches shorter and about the same weight. Hansen has clocked a 5.05 40-yard dash, which isn't bad nor great for a lineman, and he wins this matchup against Johnson.

Preston Hadley (CB)

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    A junior college transfer, Preston Hadley has only spent two years in BYU's program, but he will leave a lasting impression. He has totaled 58 tackles on the year, along with six pass deflections.

    Although his SDSU counterpart, Leon McFadden, received preseason hype as one of the best cornerbacks in the country, he hasn't quite lived up to it, and Hadley gains the nod over McFadden.