Let the Bowl Season Begin! Bowl Kickoff Day Open Thread

William Mancebo

The bowl season begins today with the New Mexico, Las Vegas, Idaho Potato, and New Orleans Bowls on the menu. In the New Mexico Bowl, the Washington State Cougars are making their first bowl appearance since 2003.

There are 35 bowl games in FBS college football. THIRTY-FIVE! That means 70 teams (SEVENTY!) are in bowl games. And Cal is not one of them. (Sobs.)

Here is today's schedule for the first day of hot bowl action:

Saturday, December 21st (all times Pacific)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Washington State 11:00 a.m. ESPN (HD) / WatchESPN
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC 12:30 p.m. ABC (HD) / WatchABC
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Diego State 2:30 p.m. ESPN (HD) / WatchESPN
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana Lafayette vs. Tulane 6:00 p.m. ESPN (HD) / WatchESPN

The first two bowl games of the day feature Pac-12 teams. In the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Washington State (6-6) makes its first bowl appearance since 2003 against Colorado State (7-6), which has not played in a bowl since 2008. Mountain West Connection has a good preview of this matchup.

Before the New Mexico Bowl is over, the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will kick off. This is an intriguing matchup between USC (9-4) and Fresno State (11-1). We are all familiar with USC's story this year. The Trojans will be playing for their third coach this season, as interim coach # 2 Clay Helton (the offensive coordinator this year) takes the reins after interim coach # 1 Ed Orgeron resigned after he was passed over for the permanent head coaching gig in favor of Steve Sarkisian. USC will be facing a Fresno State team that had BCS bowl game thoughts dancing in their heads until San Jose State spoiled the Bulldogs' undefeated season with 62-52 win on November 29.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr passed for 4,866 yards this season and 48 touchdowns. Kevin Gemmell at espn.com observes that Carr vs. the USC defense is a matchup to watch:

Carr's passing numbers are insane. And while we can argue the quality of the defenses he faced, he still has to throw it and someone still has to catch it. This sets up an intriguing showdown between Carr, his receivers and USC's pass defense, which was No. 1 in the Pac-12 and holds opponents to 214.5 yards per game and quarterbacks to a 57.3 completion percentage. The Trojans have yielded only 18 touchdowns through the air and tied for second in the conference with 16 interceptions.

This one might be worth watching.

Has anyone ever used Royal Purple, by the way? Your thoughts on this product?

The bowl day will wrap up with Buffalo (8-4) vs.San Diego State (7-5) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. Tulane (7-5) in an intrastate tilt in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.  Throw out the records when those Louisiana schools get together!  Former Washington quarterback Nick Montana (son of Joe) is Tulane's starting quarterback.  His status for the bowl game is uncertain, however, after a separated shoulder he suffered in October and aggravated in Tulane's season finale.

As for the Idaho Potato Bowl, the game features a San Diego State team that lost earlier in the season (and badly) to FCS Eastern Illinois, which itself was recently eliminated in the NCAA FCS playoffs by Towson. But Los Aztecs managed to regroup and make a school-record fourth consecutive bowl appearance.  Buffalo is making only it second bowl appearance in school history.

Enjoy the games.  Share your thoughts in the comments as you watch.  This is your multi-bowl Saturday open thread.

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