Football attempts to dust off recent postseason woes in upcoming Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
The stage is set in Boise, Idaho.
In the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Central Michigan football will attempt to forget its recent bowl game struggles in order to capitalize on an impending opportunity against Wyoming.
The game kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22 at Albertsons Stadium. The contest between the Chippewas and Cowboys will air on ESPN.
“We are really excited to play,” CMU head coach John Bonamego said. “I have heard nothing but good things about this bowl game. We don’t know much about Wyoming except they have an outstanding quarterback and are a very good football team.”
Since taking over the reins at CMU, Bonamego taken the Chippewas to three straight bowl games.
In 2015, CMU lost 21-14 to Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl. The following season, Bonamego’s crew fell 55-10 to Tulsa in the Miami Beach Bowl.
The Chippewas have not won a bowl game since a 24-21 win over Western Kentucky in the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Now, Bonamego has a chance for redemption not only for himself, but for his seniors.
“We want to send the seniors out and let them finish their careers with a bowl win,” Bonamego said. “It would really put an exclamation point on their careers.”
CMU senior quarterback Shane Morris was a key factor in leading the Chippewas to an 8-4 (6-2 Mid-American Conference) record.
CMU won its last five games to finish second in the MAC West Division. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound signal caller, who announced transferred from Michigan to CMU in January, completed 226-of-407 passes for 2,908 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the 2017 season.
Morris is eager to potentially go up against Wyoming junior quarterback Josh Allen, who is projected to be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
“I’m really happy to (potentially) be playing against Josh Allen,” Morris said. “He’s a great quarterback and to be able to go out and compete against him is an awesome challenge for me and our team.”
In 10 games this season, Allen has completed 141-of-251 passes for 1,658 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Allen missed the final two games of the season to injury and is questionable for the bowl game.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl expects Allen to leave the Cowboys for the NFL at the end of the season.
Bonamego said Allen will be a challenge for the CMU defense if he indeed plays on Dec. 22.
“He will be a challenge (for us),” Bonamego said. “I know of his reputation and the reputation of the team and coaching staff at Wyoming.”
One player who will have opportunities to get to Allen in the backfield is CMU senior defensive end Joe Ostman. Ostman finished the regular season with 12 sacks.
“I know (Wyoming) has a great offense and a great quarterback,” Ostman said. “It’s exciting to get ready to finish off the season the right way.”
During MAC Media Day on July 29, Ostman said he was planning to use the letdown of the past as motivation for the 2017 campaign. As a captain for the Chippewas, he plans to use the team's win streak as motivation to end the season on an even higher note.
“This is a big game for us," he said. "We feel like we are in a great place and are just excited to go out and get the win.”
Wyoming finished with a 7-5 (5-3 Mountain West Conference) record on the season. The Cowboys dropped games to Iowa, Oregon, Boise State, Fresno State and San Jose State.
The Chippewas have been to 10 bowl games in school history, with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl being their 11th appearance. CMU has a 3-7 bowl record. Meanwhile, Wyoming has participated in 14 bowl games in program history, owning a 6-8 record.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, previously named the Humanitarian Bowl and MPC Computers Bowl, has been played annually since 1997. In last season’s bowl game, Idaho defeated Colorado State, 61-50.
“I’ve never been to Idaho,” Bonamego said. “I’m really excited and think it will be a great experience for our student athletes to be able to go out and see the West. We’re just really happy to be bowling.”