Idaho Wins Potato Bowl; Scoreboard Lit Up

You can be excused if you only saw the first quarter of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and then went on to holiday festivities, only to wake up today and think the numbers are typos.

Idaho Wins Potato Bowl; Scoreboard Lit Up

Yes, Santa, Idaho really did manage 41 unanswered points in the second and third quarters in beating Colorado State 61-50 Thursday night. It was an unimaginable turn of events after the two teams ended the first quarter with a combined 106 yards of offense and a 0-0 tie.

CSU quarterback Nick Stevens hit Olabisi Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the Rams up 7-0, and then the onslaught happened like a winter blizzard in Boise. Idaho rattled off 20 straight points going into the half and tacked on another three touchdowns to start the third quarter before Colorado State added to the scoreboard total again. Being down 41-7 forced Colorado State to air the ball out more, (Stevens finished the game 21 of 36 passing for 445 yards), and it forced the stat keepers to call for a reinforcement of #2 pencils. The Rams actually outscored Idaho 36-20 in the 4th quarter, but it was too late to change the outcome.

By going 7/16 on third down conversions, Idaho was able to control more than 36 minutes of the game clock and take advantage of scoring opportunities. Vandals quarterback Matt Linehan was 21 of 31 passing for 381 yards and four passing touchdowns, (he also had one rushing), and was named the game’s MVP. Isaiah Saunders added 147 rushing yards, on 33 carries, and three touchdowns.

Keep the Statisticians Busy

The 111 combined points in most in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl history, including its five previous Humanitarian Bowl incarnations. It is also the third most total points scored in any FBS bowl. That note alone comes with great irony since Idaho will be dropping to FCS following the 2017 season.

The five touchdowns by Linehan, (four passing and one rushing) tied the record of former Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar. You know who else owns a share of the record? Colorado State’s Nick Stevens from last night’s game, with his five passing touchdowns.

The two teams also combined for a whopping 1,206 yards of total offense, (606 for Idaho and 600 for CSU). Idaho outgained Colorado State by 70 yards on the ground, with CSU outgaining the Vandals by 64 in the air.

Post-Game Heat

While the temperatures in Boise were 20 degrees at kickoff and dropped into single digits by game’s end, there was plenty of “warmth” coming in the post-game interviews. Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo was not pleased with much of anything. “I didn’t think we handled the elements very well. Not the cold, but the field was not in great shape.”

That was the easy part to deal with. In an on-field interview with ESPN Radio immediately following the game Linehan took a not-so-veiled shot at Idaho University President Chuck Staben and the decision to drop to FCS in 2018, having lost their football-only status in the Sun Belt Conference.  “We belong in FBS, period. That’s what I believe, that’s what everyone believes.  We know we can compete, we belong here. No matter what anyone thinks, even our tone-deaf president. Maybe he doesn’t think we belong here, but I think we belong here.” Linehan later apologized to Staben at the press conference after the game saying he had reacted in the heat of the moment. He is currently a junior and will have left the Idaho program by the time the change is made.

The program will drop down to the Big Sky conference after the 2017 season, which ironically enough was the home of Vandals football from 1963-1995. They were a combined 6-19 overall at the FBS level  and 4-12 in the Sun Belt from 2013-2015 when the decision was made to drop to FCS. The one thing the Vandals will take with them is they are 3-0 all-time in bowl games, with all of them being in Boise.

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