Famous Idaho Potato Matchup: Buffalo Bulls vs. San Diego State Aztecs
Date/Time: December 21st, 5:30 ET
Point Spread: Pick ‘Em
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is always one of the more inconsistent bowl games to try to handicap. This year is no exception, as two teams with literally zero ties to one another, the Buffalo Bulls and the San Diego State Aztecs square off against one another on the Smurf Turf at Bronco Stadium in Boise.
The biggest thing that Buffalo has going for it in this game is that it is +16 in turnover differential this year. The Aztecs are known for turning the ball over, as they have a -12 turnover margin on the campaign. If the MAC reps are going to take this one, this is where they are going to do their damage. It happens to be that the Bulls were awfully good this season, but when their backs were against the wall against the best teams on their schedule, they really folded up shop. They were killed by both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Baylor Bears (though there is no shame in either of those losses), and they were beaten by both the Toledo Rockets and the Bowling Green Falcons. In fact, the only win all season long came against the Ohio Bobcats, who had already looked to give up on the season when they met at the beginning of November. That said, Buffalo has perhaps one of its best teams in school history this year. RB Branden Oliver had seven straight games with at least 100 yards on the ground before the last game of the season against Bowling Green, the team with the best defense in the MAC. He has found the end zone in five straight games, scoring 12 times in that stretch.
The time is going to come when Head Coach Rocky Long is going to be looked upon for some of the big jobs, perhaps in the Pac-12. He has guided San Diego State to three straight bowl games, and though he only has one bowl win in his career (that coming in his days with the New Mexico Lobos), he has always managed to overachieve with the clubs which he has had to work with. If you want proof of that, look at where New Mexico has been since he was fired from that job in 2008. This was supposed to be a season of disappointment for the Aztecs, but their upset wins over the Boise State Broncos and San Jose State Spartans in November propelled them to their bowl game this year. The question that we have for SDSU is how it is going to react against what might be a superior foe. Remember that the Aztecs won four games in overtime this season, and there were a lot of close calls that could have gone the other way. It’s a great sign of a team and its character, but it is also a sign that the Aztecs may have been more lucky than good.
This is only the second bowl game for the Bulls in their history, as they were beaten in the 2008 International Bowl the year which they won the MAC. They were probably the fourth or fifth best team in the conference this year, and this is also a first from the standpoint that it is the first time they have played a team from the MWC. San Diego State is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven non-conference games, including last season’s Poinsettia Bowl, a 23-6 loss at the hands of the BYU Cougars. The Aztecs only have two bowl wins in their history, both of which came in the state of California.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.