Bowl Preview Bonanza Part V: Halfway Home




Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT

TV: CampusInsiders.com; American Sports Network

Las Vegas: Colorado State -3.5

Growing up in Arizona, the Copper Bowl bore personal significance. The game coincided with the Fiesta Classic, a basketball tournament at McKale Center that hosted such teams as Duke, Fab Five-era Michigan and Michigan State.

I have fond childhood memories of both the Copper Bowl and Fiesta Classic, but alas, the adult realities of corporate money and self-serving interests intervened.

A Phoenix-based sponsor moved the Copper Bowl in the late 1990s, and it underwent various name changes before becoming what is now the Cactus Bowl. The Fiesta Classic fell victim to the explosion of neutral-court tournaments in college basketball’s preseason, with fewer marquee teams wanting to play on other marquee programs’ home floors.

The introduction of the Arizona Bowl takes me back to my childhood — both positively and negatively.

I’m happy to see Tucson again hosting a bowl game, though the Arizona Bowl is the quintessential example naysayers can point to when they lament there being too many bowls.

The Arizona Bowl failed to lineup a national cable TV distributor, instead relying on the MWC Tier 3 online streaming service, Campus Insiders, and Sinclair’s fledgling American Sports Network.

Online services are the wave of the future, but TV is still the present. This game takes me back to the days of seeing college football on syndicated channels or through tape delay. And, considering much of my childhood football syndication exposure came from the WAC, it’s fitting the Arizona Bowl features a matchup from the conference that ostensibly replaced the WAC.

Mountain West members Colorado State and Nevada both earned their way into the postseason by reaching the six-win mark. Though they didn’t play in the regular season — they are in separate divisions — one can understand MW commissioner Craig Thompson’s frustration with drawing a conference game.

Simply swapping Colorado State and 5-7 Minnesota in the Arizona and Quick Lane Bowls might have spared some frustrations.

No matter, as Nevada head coach Brian Polian told the Assiciated Press his squad “didn’t make a big deal of it.”

Take away the conference affiliation, and the Arizona Bowl has the potential for a great matchup. Colorado State is averaging better than 30 points per game in Mike Bobo’s first season, continuing with some of the same principles that made the program a success in Jim McElwain’s brief tenure.

Doing so without Garrett Grayson at quarterback is particularly impressive, as replacement Nick Stevens endured some struggles. Bobo introduced a multifaceted run game, with the trio of Izzy Matthews, Jasen Oden and Dayln Dawkins combining for more than 2,000 yards.

Expect Bobo to indeed RUN THE DANG BALL against a Nevada defense that allowed almost five yards per carry in the regular season. Coincidentally, Nevada’s yield against the run is the same as its offensive production going to the ground.

Like Colorado State, Nevada has option carrying the ball. Don Jackson and James Butler combined for nearly 2,200 yards. The likely battle on the ground is yet another throwback to days of college football past, but the end result Tuesday should produce a very modern final score.