This matchup looks to be one of the more exciting early December bowl games, featuring two teams that caught the nation by surprise in 2014. The 2013 Colorado State team went 8-6 after completing a memorable comeback victory against the Washington State Cougars in the New Mexico Bowl. The Utah Utes of 2013 went 5-7 and failed to qualify for postseason play.
This year, both teams come into bowl season ready to finish their 2014 season off the right way. The Rams come into this game 2-0 on the season against Power Five teams, beating the Colorado Buffaloes 31-17, holding the Buffs to their second lowest scoring game of the season, and the Boston College Eagles. Other notable wins Colorado State brings into this matchup is a 16-13 victory over the Utah State Aggies and a 31-24 win on the road against the Nevada Wolfpack.
WHEN: Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. MST
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
2014 SEASON: Boise State, 9-2, 6-1 (MW); Utah State State, 9-3, 6-1 (MW)
RADIO: 105.5 ESPN in Fort Collins, across the country on Sports USA.
The Utes come into the Las Vegas Bowl with multiple top notch wins over Pac-12 opponents. They have wins over both Los Angeles powers with a 30-28 victory over the UCLA Bruins and a 24-21 win over the USC Trojans. The Utes also won a double overtime thriller over the Stanford Cardinals 20-17, as well as beating Mountain West Championship game loser Fresno State 59-27 and a win in the Big House over the Michigan Wolverines 26-10.
The Rams boast one of the best offenses in the country this season. The high powered Colorado State offense has scored 30 points or more in eight contests this year. They rank eight in passing yards per game with 326.3 and 22nd in points scored per game, averaging 35.9. The Rams offense is made up of a projected first round NFL Draft pick in left tackle Ty Sambrailo, a quarterback with 32 touchdowns and 3779 yards in Garrett Grayson, running back Dee Hart who has rushed for 1254 and 16 touchdowns, and arguably the best wide receiver in the country in Rashard Higgins, a Biletnikoff Award finalist who leads the nation with 17 touchdowns and is second in the country with 1640 yards.
The Utes are a more balanced team compared to the Rams. While the Rams like to get the ball to playmakers in the air, the Utes take it to you on the ground and through the air. The Utes offense is led by running back Devontae Booker. Booker has 1350 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground this year, and 39 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns through the air. It is safe to say that if the Utes want to be successful, than their offense has to run through Booker. Quarterback Travis Wilson is having an efficient year, throwing for 17 touchdowns to only four interceptions while gaining 2012 yards through the air.
This game will be fun for both schools, as the Rams and the Utes used to be in the WAC and Mountain West together for decades and built up a small rivalry in the late 1990s and early 2000s when both teams were consistently competing for conference titles. The Rams are 22-55-2 all time against the Utes, with their last meeting a 59-6 lost in Salt Lake City in 2010 before the Utes left for Mountain West to join the Pac-12. Both teams are located close to Las Vegas, so expect both fan bases to travel well to cheer on their teams.