Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear publicly said three weeks ago the Vandals’ football team most likely would play its bowl game in Arizona. Players stumped on Twitter for a game in Florida.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, played at Boise’s Albertsons Stadium, won’t be as warm, but it should be a boon for the Vandals and the bowl itself.
“I think it’s great for our fans. We have a big fan base in Boise; they’re going to be very excited,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “Hopefully it can be a big advantage for us.”
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Idaho will face Colorado State at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22. The only bowl game of the day will be televised on ESPN.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Director Kevin McDonald said ticket sales were “really good” in the 24 hours after the bowl announcement, and premium seating in the Stueckle Sky Center is almost sold out.
The Vandals have played in the bowl twice previously, drawing 19,664 fans for Southern Miss in 1998 and 26,726 for Bowling Green in 2009.
Attendance in the game has between lower than 22,000 the past three years.
“The right team in the right bowl is what everyone wants to accomplish, and we’re pleased to have Idaho here,” McDonald said. “And we haven’t had two teams from the West.”
Any sort of awkwardness with the Vandals playing in Boise State’s stadium was cleared up Monday: Neither team will use Boise State’s locker room in the Bleymaier Football Center. Colorado State of the Mountain West will use the Broncos’ old locker room in the building south of the field, and Idaho will use the visitor’s locker room.
McDonald said “there’s still a strong rivalry there” between the Idaho schools, but Boise State has been more than helpful, he said.
Idaho hasn’t played in Albertsons Stadium since the 2009 bowl game. Colorado State, the designated home team, plays in Boise every other year, including this season (a 28-23 loss to the Broncos). Still, the Rams expect to be outnumbered in the stands on game day.
“I think you look at it as another challenge. I’m excited about playing Idaho in their home state,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “It’s exciting for our guys, an opportunity to play in front of a packed house there in Boise, a nationally-televised game, the only bowl game on TV that day.”
With 18 Idahoans on its roster, the players are happy to be headed to Boise as opposed to a southern destination, Petrino said. They will look to improve to 3-0 all-time in the Boise game.
“Our players were really excited to play in front of all their fans and be in our home state. ... And being the only game on ESPN that day, our players, they know all about that. They researched all that stuff,” Petrino said.
COMING IN HOT
Since Oct. 8, the Vandals and Rams are a combined 11-3, with Idaho going 6-1 and Colorado State going 5-2. Idaho is scoring 36.1 points per game in that span, Colorado State is averaging 41.6.
Petrino and Bobo, both former SEC offensive coordinators at Arkansas and Georgia, respectively, have found the balance they hoped to develop.
“When you’re winning ball games, it’s good for team morale, and it builds confidence in your players. They start to believe, and I really believe both teams believe in what they’re doing,” Bobo said. “They’re confident in how they’re playing. It’s going to be a big test.”
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
- Teams: Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West)
- Time: 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22
- Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), 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.
- Programming note: The only bowl game of the day