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Tuesday Bowl Games — Potatoes and Smoothies in Places They Don’t Belong

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Plus Air Coryell, Barry Sanders, and the 1980s Iowa Hawkeyes? Here’s what they have in common...

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NCAA Football: Idaho Potato Bowl-Ohio vs Nevada Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

THIS ONE’S FOR ALL THE POTATO SMOOTHIES

Kind of...: Given these two bowls, and the participants in them, there are three topics I want you to consider:

  1. Truly fantastic college (and pro) running backs
  2. Who is MOST responsible for the modern passing game
  3. The mid- to late-80s Iowa Hawkeyes

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Wyoming Cowboys

2:30pm | ESPN | Wyo -3.5 | O/U 59.5
Albertsons Stadium (Boise, ID)

MNW: Well I’m pretty disgusted by the three topics listed above. So I’ll give you the option:

  1. What I think about the origins of America Needs Farmers, or
  2. The beauty of Kent State-Wyoming in a bowl game where the winning coach gets a Gatorade cooler of French fries dumped on his head.

OK, we can just admire the latter:

The Flashes’ Dustin Crum-to-Dante Cephas connection is elite, and one that could put up a decent amount on the ‘Pokes, who will likely sell out to stop RB Marquez Cooper (himself a 1,000-yarder).

Meanwhile, after switching to mountain man QB Levi Williams, Wyoming...kept doing Wyoming things. Craig Bohl’s squad will run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and I wouldn’t be optimistic that Kent State is going to stop them. So let’s just hope this one hits the over. Gimme Wyoming, 38-31 (24 points).

Kind of...Wyoming has only played one bowl game against B1G opposition: the 1987 Holiday Bowl vs. Iowa. Iowa won by a point: 20-19, rallying from deficits of 12-0 and 19-7. Iowa had a potent offense that year, but Wyoming shut them down pretty well. Of Iowa’s three TDS, one was a pick-six and one was a blocked punt.

A year later, Wyoming entered the Holiday Bowl 11-1 and ranked #15. However, #12 Oklahoma State had Barry Sanders, and he was having the best season any RB has ever had in the history of college football, which he capped off with 222 yards and 5 TDs vs. Wyoming. You may also have heard of Oklahoma State’s QB from this era:

Poll

FOR ALL THE TATERS

  • 35%
    KENT STATE
    (24 votes)
  • 64%
    WYOMING
    (44 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

UTSA Roadrunners vs. #24 San Diego State Aztecs

6:30pm | ESPN | SDSU -3 | O/U 49
Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)

MNW: Just a quality, quality, quality game. I took the Fightin’ MEEPs with 10 points. And you know what that means will happen?

Kent State’s Sean Lewis getting doused in a kale smoothie, as one does.
The Athletic

Please, please, please give me Brady Hoke doused in a kale smoothie.

Kind of...San Diego State has only played one bowl game against B1G opposition. The 1986 Holiday Bowl vs. Iowa. Iowa won by a point, 39-38, rallying from a 35-21 4th quarter deficit.

San Diego State’s QB that night was Todd Santos, who, at the time, was the all-time NCAA leader in passing yards.

This is appropriate, because no place and time has influenced contemporary football as much as San Diego in the 60s. Sid Gillman was the head coach of the AFL’s San Diego Chargers, and ran a passing offense that emphasized stretching the field, forcing the defense to cover as much area as possible.

One coach who was paying attention was San Diego State head coach Don Coryell. While at SDSU (‘61-’72), Coryell had two different unbeaten streaks of 25+ games, three unbeaten seasons and three bowl wins. The Aztecs were not a D-1 school at the time, but Coryell’s innovation and success were still noteworthy enough to get hired by the St. Louis Cardinals. By his second season, he had dethroned the Cowboys as division champs. After a few years, he moved to the San Diego Chargers job where he turned a wealth of offensive talent—Dan Fouts, Chuck Muncie, Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler, John Jefferson, and Kellen Winsolw—into three AFC West titles.

However, playoff success largely eluded Coryell (they lost two AFC title games), which fed into the ridiculous narrative that passing offenses weren’t built to win in the playoffs. Or, that the 49ers’ version of the West Coast offense was superior for integrating more shorter routes and valuing completion %.

There’s something to be said for not throwing a lot of interceptions, but the Chargers’ real problem was cheap management. The team traded John Jefferson despite him beginning his career with three straight 1,000 yard seasons. And they traded Hall of Fame DE Fred Dean to the 49ers in the middle of the ‘81 season. Coryell was an offensive genius, but he didn’t neglect defense so much as the cheap Chargers ownership handcuffed him.

If you look at the cross-pollination between Coryell and Gillman in San Diego in the 60s, you see the lion’s share of the innovation of the passing game that dominates the NFL today. John Madden and Joe Gibbs were on Coryell’s staff. Dick Vermeil and Al Davis were on Gillman’s. Al Davis gets you Bill Walsh and now you’ve accounted for both the “ball control” West Coast offense of the 80’s 49ers (as if Jerry Rice didn’t run deep routes) and the more stretch-the-field version of the Coryell/Madden (Cliff Branch)/Gibbs (Gary Clark).

Don Coryell should have a bust in Canton. He’s easily one of the 50 most important coaches in NFL history, and it all started for him at San Diego State.

San Diego State also has a claim on one of the greatest RBs of all-time, though: Marshall Faulk. SDSU was only good his freshman year (more on that in a second), so, when he finished 2nd in the Heisman voting in 1992 for a 5-5-1 WAC school, it was both impressive and unjust. How good do you have to be to finish 2nd in the Heisman voting for ANY .500 team, much less one in the WAC? Yet, Faulk clear deserved the Heisman so much more than Gino Torretta, whose 1992 line was fine, but virtually identical to his 1991 numbers, when he didn’t finish in the top 10 of the Heisman voting.

Faulk’s freshman year, he averaged 7.1 ypc and San Diego State went 8-4-1 and made the Freedom Bowl. But it’s the tie that deserves mention. It was possibly the greatest game in the history of the WAC, but, to the Aztecs, it felt like a loss. With the WAC title at stake, SDSU blew a 45-17 lead to BYU, settling for a 52-52 draw that gave BYU the WAC championship. The teams combined for 1,462 yards of offense. Both QBs threw for over 500 yards. Faulk had 119 yards rushing with two TDs AND 116 yards receiving with another 2 TDs. It was a glorious night of football:

With the win, BYU headed to the Holiday Bowl. Guess who they faced there?

Iowa.

Poll

FOR ALL THE SMOOTHIES

  • 45%
    UTSA
    (25 votes)
  • 54%
    SDSU
    (30 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

Also, NFL tonight?

Here’s your open thread for the day. Behave.