Someday somebody’s going to remind you that the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was 0-0 after one quarter, and you’re going to say, “Holy moly, that’s right.” The first scoreless first quarter in the game’s 20-year history belied what was about to happen last night. A record 111 points were scored the rest of the way as Idaho outlasted Colorado State 61-50 on the frozen blue. After CSU took a 7-0 lead on the second play of the second quarter, the Vandals proceeded to score touchdowns on nine—count ‘em, nine—consecutive possessions (including the one that was extended when the Rams fumbled a punt). The streak lasted from early in the second quarter until midway through the fourth. Idaho led 41-14 entering the final quarter; then the two teams combined for 56 points, 36 of them from Colorado State, which in the end had just dug itself too big a hole.
Let me get back to you on the number of records that were set in this game, if you don’t mind. But the big picture is the history that was made for any bowl game, anytime anywhere. The 84 combined points scored in the second half were the most ever in a half in a bowl game. And Colorado State’s 36 points in the final stanza were the most by one team in a quarter in the history of bowl games. The 1,206 yards of total offense (606 for Idaho and 600 for Colorado State) were the sixth-most in any Bowl, and it’s only the third time both teams have eclipsed 600 in a bowl. And the Rams’ Olabisi Johnson had 265 receiving yards, tied for the fourth-most in any bowl game in college football history. Johnson did it on only seven catches. We need to exhale.
For Idaho, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is vindication on so many levels. It was indeed a statement, nine months after being voted out of the Sun Belt. The Vandals have won nine games for only the second time in their FBS era and have scored 60 points in a game for the first time in over 20 years. They struck a note against a team from a conference that has long shunned them. The icy Gatorade bath had to feel good to coach Paul Petrino, although it came with 2½ minutes left in the game. Petrino still had to stay out there for the trophy presentation. And Colorado State had two more touchdowns to go. Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan, the game’s unanimous MVP, had already delivered his: four through the air and one on the ground.
With the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in the books, we move on to the Cactus Bowl. WhatIfSports.com has executed computer simulations of all the college bowl games, playing each matchup 501 times to come up with predictions. The site forecasts the game in Phoenix to be the “Jeremy McNichols show” and sees a 42-34 Bronco victory over Baylor on Tuesday night. Boise State has a 61.4 percent chance of winning, according to WhatIfSports.com. Of course, the service also predicted an overtime 30-23 Houston victory over San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl. And a 31-27 Colorado State win over Idaho in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Ben Kercheval’s Cactus Bowl preview at CBSSports.com sees it this way: “It all comes down to motivation for this game, at least for Baylor. Though the Bears lost six in a row, the little secret no one talks about is they looked like a motivated team at the end of the year against West Virginia. Perhaps there is some hope for this team yet. Both teams are familiar with higher scoring games, so it may come down to which defense makes a critical stop late.” Six of the eight experts on CBSSports.com’s panel picked the Broncos.
Boise State’s Cactus Bowl depth chart lists sophomore Dylan Sumner-Gardner as one of the starters at safety, which would be a big boon to the Broncos’ efforts in slowing down the explosive Baylor attack. But the depth chart doesn’t always represent reality. Summer-Gardner’s mom has let it be known that he’ll miss the game against The Bears. “Pray for DSG he is in surgery right now getting his shoulder pinned back together he loves football but moment like tis make me hate it!” tweeted Sedalia Gardner early yesterday morning. Sumner-Gardner was banged-up in late November and didn’t even play in the season-ending loss at Air Force. DSG, who was suspended for the first four games of this season, didn’t crack the starting lineup until November 4 and made is first career interception against San Jose State.
There’s a sidebar to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence’s disappointing season with the Dallas Cowboys. Turns out he has never fully recovered from offseason back surgery, leading to a grand total of one sack this year. And a story on CowboysWire at USAToday.com suggests that amphetamines Lawrence was taking during recovery from surgery triggered the four-game suspension he was handed at the beginning of the season. The former Boise State star played only 13 snaps against the New York Giants two weeks ago and was a scratch last Sunday against Tampa Bay. Now there’s concern that Lawrence will not only miss this Monday’s game against Detroit, but the rest of the season.
David Irving, who was signed by the Cowboys off the Kansas City practice squad at the end of September, has burst upon the scene in place of Lawrence and keyed a big defensive effort in the win over the Buccaneers with 1.5 sacks. Former Idaho Vandal Benson Mayowa’s stock continues to rise as well in that spot. Mayowa has been very visible of late in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme. He has 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his last three games and forced an Eli Manning fumble that was recovered by the Cowboys against the Giants two weeks ago. The asterisk is that Mayowa was scheduled for an MRI this week, as was the continually nicked-up Tyrone Crawford, the Boise State product.
Boise State can’t expect to go to the free throw line 43 times every night. In fact the 43 trips to the charity stripe Wednesday night in the win over Cal State Northridge may very well end up being the Broncos’ season-high. The most important thing is they made 33 of them, a clip of almost 77 percent. And Boise State was 18-of-21 from the line at the intermission versus the Matadors, the most makes by the Broncos in the first half in at least 15 years. Paris Austin went 8-for-8 Wednesday and has made his last 13 free throw attempts. They will need that kind of marksmanship in Mountain West play, which tips off next Wednesday night at Utah State.
So much for momentum. The Idaho Steelheads lost theirs in a 6-0 humiliation in Texas last night at the hands of the Allen Americans. Goalie Philippe Desrosiers returned from the AHL in time to absorb the beating in its entirety. At the other end, Allen netminder Riley Gill was posting his ECHL-leading fourth shutout of the season. The six goals equaled the most yielded in a game by the Steelheads this season. It was also the first time the Steelies have been blanked since the second game of the season versus the Utah Grizzlies. Idaho will try again tonight.
This Day In Sports…December 23, 2003:
Boise State’s first out-of-town bowl game as a Division I-A school, an unlikely matchup with another Top 25 team in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl. The Broncos fell behind TCU 21-7 in the second quarter but rallied to tie it at halftime. Then Ryan Dinwiddie threw the 82nd and final touchdown pass of his BSU career, an 18-yard fourth quarter fade to true freshman tight end Derek Schouman, to cap a 34-31 win. Dinwiddie passed for 325 yards and three TD’s to earn MVP honors, while T.J. Acree took ESPN’s Player of the Game nod with 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)