Idaho’s first bowl game since 2009 is an intriguing matchup against Colorado State. While the Rams played at Albertsons Stadium in October and almost overcame a 25-point deficit in the final 5 minutes with a series of late onside kick recoveries, the Vandals are trying to tie a program FBS record for victories with nine. Here are three reasons why Idaho can win the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Thursday:
The Vandals have forced 25 turnovers this season, which is tied for 12th in the nation. Fifteen interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries gave Idaho a chance at additional points all season long. Why not one more time?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
Idaho is among the nation’s leaders in several special teams categories. The Vandals allow 17.39 yards on kick returns (ninth), have blocked three kicks or punts (21st) and have held opponents to a punt average of 36.81 yards (second). Idaho kicker/punter Austin Rehkow is 26-for-29 on field goals and 35-for-35 on PATs.
While offensive and defensive statistics get most of the headlines, special teams could play a huge part. If it comes down to the special-team units, Idaho has an edge.
“We’ve done a good job of getting some blocked punts this year. … We’ve covered punts and kickoffs very well,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “Tackling, turnovers and probably special teams. Those are probably the three things that will make the difference of the game.”
THEY HAVE PRIDE
The Vandals have not been to a bowl game since 2009. This is the program’s second-to-last year in the FBS before transitioning to the Big Sky. According to the school’s ticket office, 5,800 of the school’s 7,000 allotted tickets have been sold.
This will be Idaho’s third bowl trip ever; the first two were wins at Albertsons Stadium. Boise State has been to a bowl game in 15 straight seasons. Do you think the Vandals and their fans want to make a statement on the blue?
Petrino finalist for award
Idaho head coach Paul Petrino was named one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Association’s Comeback Coach of the Year honor. The Vandals (8-4) doubled their win total from last season and have more wins than in Petrino’s first three years combined (six). The other finalists are Chris Creighton (Eastern Michigan) and AP Coach of the Year Mike McIntyre (Colorado).
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho vs. Colorado State
▪ Time: 5 p.m. Thursday
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN (David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan)
▪ Radio: 630 AM, 96.5 FM, 730 AM
▪ Tickets: Available at the Albertsons Stadium ticket office and at ticketmaster.com
▪ Vegas line: CSU by 15
▪ Coaches: Idaho, Paul Petrino (fourth year; 14-33); CSU, Mike Bobo (second year; 14-11)
▪ 2016 records: Idaho 8-5, CSU 7-5
▪ Bowl records: Idaho 2-0, CSU 6-9
▪ Series: CSU leads 4-3 (won last meeting 36-34 at Fort Collins, 2010)
▪ Kickoff weather: Low 20s and partly cloudy, with light wind and a 5 percent chance of snow
▪ 9 a.m.: Albertsons Stadium ticket office opens
▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Simplot Fry Feed, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot
▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, FitOne Family Field Day, Caven Williams Sports Complex
▪ 3:30-4 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Battle of the Bands, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot
▪ 3:30 p.m.: Albertsons Stadium gates open
▪ 4 p.m.: Pre-game activities, Albertsons Stadium