College Sports

December 20, 2013

Preview of Saturday’s bowl games: Mike Leach returns to the Great Southwest

Bowl season kicks off with Mike Leach returning to the Southwest.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Washington State vs. Colorado State

1 p.m. University Stadium, Albuquerque


Records: Washington State 6-6, 4-5 Pac-12; Colorado State 7-6, 5-3 MWC

Key points: Bowl season will kick off with two teams desperate to earn a postseason win. For Washington State, the game is the first bowl appearance since the Cougars beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl 10 years ago. Colorado State hasn’t been bowling since the Rams beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl in 2008. Both teams have impressed on offense this season. Washington State, led by coach Mike Leach and his pass-happy spread attack, averages nearly 30 points a game. The Rams are scoring 35.3 points a game and won five of their last seven games to become bowl eligible. Junior quarterback Garrett Grayson threw for 3,327 yards and 21 touchdowns, and sophomore Kapri Bibbs ran for 1,572 yards and 28 touchdowns for Colorado State. Washington State QB Connor Halliday has thrown for 4,187 yards and 28 touchdowns, but has 21 interceptions, to lead the Cougars’ passing attack that totaled 364.5 yards a game, fourth in the nation.

Tarrant ties: Colorado State junior offensive lineman Mason Hathaway, out of Southlake Carroll, has played in eight games this season, and redshirt freshman linebacker Bryan Ohene from Mansfield Summit has three tackles.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

No. 20 Fresno State vs. No. 25 USC

2:30 p.m.Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas


Records: Fresno State 11-1, 7-1 MWC; USC 9-4, 6-3 Pac-12

Key points: The Las Vegas Bowl hit big with the Bulldogs and Trojans, the first ranked matchup of this bowl season. Fresno State seemed on its way to crashing the BCS until stumbling on Nov. 29 in a 62-52 loss at San Jose State. USC has seemed lost at times this season. Coach Lane Kiffin was fired after a 62-41, early-season loss to Arizona State, but the Trojans bounced back to win six of their final eight games. Former USC assistant Steve Sarkisian will take over as the Trojans’ coach next season, but for now, USC is operating with its third coach of the season (Ed Orgeron served as interim coach and offensive coordinator Clay Helton will serve as head coach for the bowl game). The Trojans will have to pull together to slow down Fresno State’s powerful offense, which is passing for a nation-leading 409.8 yards a game. The Bulldogs, with senior quarterback Derek Carr (4,866 passing yards with 48 touchdowns and just seven interceptions this season), can still make a statement against a ranked team from a BCS conference.

Tarrant ties: USC sophomore reserve defensive end Jeff Miller played for Southlake Carroll.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Buffalo vs. San Diego State

4:30 p.m. Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho


Records: Buffalo 8-4, 6-2 Mid-American; San Diego State 7-5, 6-2 Mountain West

Key Points: The Potato Bowl features teams that didn’t seem headed to the postseason early in the season. San Diego State and Buffalo combined for only one win through three games. Buffalo was beaten up by Baylor (70-13) and Ohio State (40-20), and San Diego State lost to FCS Eastern Illinois, Ohio State and Oregon State. But both teams rallied. The Aztecs will make their fourth consecutive bowl appearance; they beat Navy in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl but lost to Louisiana Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl) and BYU (Poinsettia Bowl) in the past two seasons. Buffalo is shooting for its first bowl win. The Bulls were defeated by UConn in the 2008 International Bowl, their only other postseason appearance. Both teams have strong running attacks and will try to control the ball. Senior Branden Oliver leads Buffalo with 1,421 yards and 15 touchdowns on 282 carries. San Diego State junior Adam Muema has 1,015 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 228 carries.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Tulane vs. La.-Lafayette

8 p.m. Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans


Records: Tulane 7-5, 5-3 C-USA; ULL 8-4, 5-2 Sun Belt

Key points: It will be an all-Louisiana matchup in New Orleans, which should mean a bump in attendance and fan support. In the bowl’s first 10 years, no Louisiana teams made appearances, and the bowl’s attendance topped 30,000 only twice. In the past two editions, both featuring Ragin’ Cajun wins, more than 40,000 fans have shown up. In 2011, ULL pulled out a 32-30 thriller against San Diego State. Last season, the Ragin’ Cajuns beat East Carolina 43-34. Add Tulane, a New Orleans school playing in its first bowl since 2002, and expect a party atmosphere in this nightcap. Get ready to hear a lot about Tulane quarterback Nick Montana, son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, who has battled a shoulder injury. ULL QB Terrance Broadway has also missed time with a broken arm and is questionable for the game.

Tarrant ties: ULL senior lineman Evyn Perry played for Grapevine and Cisco Junior College before transferring.

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