The Idaho football team won’t need to leave the state for its first bowl game since 2009.
The Vandals will play Colorado State of the Mountain West in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22 at Albertsons Stadium. Game time is 5 p.m. on ESPN.
This is the Vandals’ third bowl appearance in program history, all in Boise. Colorado State leads the all-time series with Idaho, 4-3. The last meeting was a 36-34 Rams win in Fort Collins, Colo.
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“I’m very proud of our leadership from our players. Our seniors, what a great way for them to finish their careers – especially the guys who have been here four years with me,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said in a release. “We went through some tough times.”
Idaho beat Southern Miss 42-35 in the 1998 game, and beat Bowling Green 43-42 on a last-second pass play in 2009.
The Vandals (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) finished fourth in the Sun Belt this season behind Appalachian State, Arkansas State and Troy. Idaho won its regular season finale against Georgia State on Saturday 37-12, extending its winning streak to four games.
“As long as you stick to your core values and keep working hard and keep grinding and doing everything to your very best ability, eventually you end up being successful,” Petrino, now in his fourth year as head coach, said. “Hopefully that is something they can carry over to life. If they just keep grinding and keep working hard and doing things right and choosing character, they’ll end up being successful.”
The Vandals are one of the rare exceptions of a bowl-bound team that surrendered more points (357) than it scored (339). Led by junior quarterback Matt Linehan, who has thrown for 2,803 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Idaho’s offense averages 28.3 points per game. The defense gives up an average of 29.8 points per game and has the 17th worst pass defense in the nation, giving up 270 yards per game through the air.
Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West) finished the regular season on a high note, winning its final two games over New Mexico and eventual conference champion San Diego State. The Rams have started two quarterbacks this season in Collin Hill and Nick Stevens. Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury in October that paved the way for Stevens, who was second team All-Mountain West in 2015, to reclaim the job. Stevens has thrown for 1,491 yards, 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The offense also features three different running backs with at least 500 rushing yards (Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey Jr.).
The Rams average 34.1 points per game (38th) and surrender 27.8 (t-62nd).
Colorado State almost pulled off an epic comeback on the blue earlier this season against Boise State, successfully recovering a pair of onside kicks before ultimately losing 28-23.
“We are very excited about this year’s matchup between the University of Idaho and Colorado State University,” Kevin McDonald, executive director of the Potato Bowl, said. “It will be great to host Idaho for the third time with its great local and regional fan base. They always bring excitement to the city of Boise. We are also thrilled to welcome Colorado State for the first time and look forward to its electric offense.”
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
▪ Teams: Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West)
▪ Kickoff: 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, Astro Turf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN
▪ Tickets: Available at ticketmaster.com. Prices are $20 (reserved seating in the South End Zone), $30 (reserved seating in the upper curves), $50 (main stadium) and $90 (Stadium Club). A limited number of suites, club seats and loge boxes are available at (208) 426-4737, starting at $100.
▪ Vegas: N/A
▪ Programming note: The only bowl game of the day
IDAHO VS. COLORADO STATE
▪ Series: Colorado State leads, 4-3 (CSU def. UI in 2010, 36-34)
▪ Bowl history: Idaho (2-0), Colorado State (6-9)
▪ Coaches: Idaho, Paul Petrino (4th year; 14-33); Colorado State, Mike Bobo (2nd year; 14-11)
▪ Scoring averages: Idaho (28.3), Colorado State (34.1)
▪ Defensive scoring averages: Idaho (29.8), Colorado State (27.8)
▪ Idaho offensive leaders: Passing: Matt Linehan (2,803 yards, 15 TDs/10 INTs); Rushing: Aaron Duckworth (615 yards, 4 TDs); Receiving: Deon Watson: (555, 2 TDs)
▪ Colorado State offensive leaders: Passing: Nick Stevens (1,491 yards, 14 TDs/3 INTs); Rushing: Dalyn Dawkins (801 yards, 3 TDs); Receiving: Michael Gallup (1,164 yards, 11 TDs)
▪ Idaho defensive leaders: Tackles: Tony Lashley (99) ; Sacks: Aikeem Coleman (8) ; Interceptions: Jayshawn Jordan and Kaden Elliss (5)
▪ Colorado State defensive leaders: Tackles: Kevin Davis (101); Sacks: Four players tied with 3, Interceptions: Braylin Scott (3)