Idaho Vandals vs. Colorado State Rams, Thursday Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET
The Idaho Potato Bowl is one of my favorite bowl games of the year. Not because it features two great teams, but because when people ask what game I'm watching, I love telling them it's the Potato Bowl. They almost always ask me if that's really the name, and as I say "yes" the look on their face is priceless. But for what it's worth, the Potato Bowl wasn't always the Potato Bowl. There was the Humanitarian Bowl from 1997- 1999 and then it was called the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl from 2000- 2003. New sponsors took over in 2004 and named it the MPC Computer's Bowl, but in 2007 it reformed back to it's original ways as the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl. Thankfully for everyone involved, in 2011 it settled as the bowl we all know and love today - the Idaho Potato Bowl - which is now the longest-running cold weather bowl game in college football.
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This year's edition has the Colorado State Rams up against the hometown Idaho Vandals. If history is any indication, plenty of points should be expected as the winners of this game have scored more than 30 points in seven of the last nine games.
Colorado State will be making their 11thbowl appearance as a part of the Mountain West Conference. They have fared okay in bowl games, going 4-6 straight up, and their last bowl win came in 2013 at the New Mexico Bowl versus Washington State.However, they have lost their last two bowl games.
For Idaho, this is their third bowl appearance since rejoining the FBS, and they have an unblemished record of 2-0. They have played in the previously mentioned Humanitarian Bowl twice, once in 1998, defeating Southern Miss and again in 2009 where they beat Bowling Green.
Idaho Potato Bowl Betting Storylines
Colorado State comes into this game with a 7-5 record, which is good enough for fifth place in the Mountain West Conference. They won four of their last five games and got their signature win in the regular-season finale against San Diego State. The Rams average 34.1 points for per game and give up 27.8. They are led on offense by standout receiver Michael Gallup, who posted 70 catches for 1,164 yards and 11 touchdowns. Eight of those 11 touchdowns came after starting QB Collin Hill went down in October with a torn ACL and forced Nick Stevens into action. Stevens has been solid in his own right, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 1,488 yards. The offensive production has skyrocketed over the last five games. The Rams have averaged 47.4 points and 520.6 yards of offense en route to an average margin of victory of 26.5 points. They will need to be ready to go from the opening kick off if they want to go back to Fort Collins with some hardware in tow. Their opponent has been one of the hottest teams in the country. Idaho has won six of their last seven games after early-season losses to Washington and Washington State by a combined 115-20 score.
Idaho comes into this game with an 8-4 record, which has them in fourth place in the Sun Belt Conference. They have won six of seven and four of their last five games. They average a shade over 28 points per game and give up a shade over 29. They are led by quarterback Matt Linehan, who is the son of current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has accumulated 2,803 passing yards and has tossed 15 touchdowns to go along with 10 interceptions. He loves to utilize his two tight ends as his main receivers. Trent Cowan has 46 catches for 532 yards and six touchdowns and Deon Watson has a stat line that reads 36/555/2. When the Vandals run the football, Aaron Duckworth is the bell cow. He leads the team in rushing with 619 yards and four touchdowns on 139 carries. Second on the rushing list is Isaiah Saunders, who has 584 yards on 126 carries but leads the team with six rushing touchdowns. Defensively is where the problems lie for the Vandals. They give up far too many big plays down field and rank No.60 in total defense. Given the way the Rams have put up points over the last month, the defensive unit could be in trouble.
Idaho Potato Bowl Odds and Betting Trends
Colorado State is 8-0 ATS in their last eight games against a team with a winning record and 7-1 ATS in their last eight Thursday games. The "under" is 4-0 in the Rams' last four games versus a nonconference opponent.
Idaho is 7-0 ATS in their last seven games and 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a straight up win of more than 20 points. They are also heavily trending to the "over". They are 12-4in their last 16 nonconference games and 4-0 after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Idaho vs Colorado State - Idaho Potato Bowl Expert Picks & Predictions
This game is a tricky game to pick, but I feel like I have a good enough understanding of these two teams to confidently advise you to take Idaho plus the points.
When you look at Idaho, you see a team that is concluding its penultimate season as an FBS program. They essentially got kicked out of the Sun Belt conference and will be taking the plunge to the FCS in hopes of becoming a successful team and to stop the bleeding in terms of money loss. That situation is not ideal, but I feel like this team is playing with a chip on its shoulder and will come out in front of a majority of home fans and play its heart out. I believe they have enough offensive weapons to score plenty of points or slow the game down completely and win a low-scoring battle.
Yes, I understand Colorado is surging right now and is from the superior conference, but I can't see them continuing their scorching offense production on a cold night in Idaho. The Rams are playing in their fifth consecutive bowl game. And while I'm not saying they won't care about the result, Idaho is the team with more to play for and with a spread as high as it is, the dog is always the play.
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