BOISE, Idaho – The 22nd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will feature BYU and Western Michigan, after each team officially accepted invitations Sunday. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will be played Friday, Dec. 21 at Albertsons Stadium on the campus of Boise State University. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. MST, and will air on ESPN.
BYU (6-6) is making its first appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Western Michigan (7-5) is making its second trip to the game. The Broncos competed in the 2014 edition against Air Force.
This will be the sixth all-time meeting between BYU and Western Michigan. The previous five matchups all came between 1962 and 1970, with the Cougars winning three times.
“We’re excited to host BYU for the first time and welcome back a Western Michigan program that was a great participant a few years ago,” said Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Executive Director Kevin McDonald. “This is a fantastic matchup for our community with two teams they will really be able to get behind, along with two young quarterbacks and two up-and-coming coaches.”
The Cougars won two games in November against fellow FBS independent programs UMass and New Mexico State to secure a 6-6 record and solidify their 36th bowl appearance. BYU is back in the postseason after a one-year hiatus in 2017 snapped a streak of 12 consecutive bowl berths.
Defense and special teams have been BYU’s calling card all season. The Cougars rank 18th in the country, allowing 325 yards per game to their opponents. Their kickoff coverage and punt coverage both rank in the top 16 for average yards allowed per return. The opportunistic defense is led by a standout at each level. Defensive end Corbin Kaufusi has 8.5 sacks, linebacker Sione Takitaki leads the team with 99 tackles and safety Dayan Ghanwoloku has pounced on four fumble recoveries.
Freshman quarterback Zach Wilson started the last six games of the regular season, taking over for Tanner Mangum midway through the season. The two quarterbacks have combined to throw 14 touchdowns, spread across 10 different receivers.
The Broncos used a late touchdown to beat Northern Illinois in their regular-season finale, snapping a three-game skid and cementing their bowl eligibility with a 7-5 record. This is Western Michigan’s ninth bowl appearance and first since playing in the Cotton Bowl following the 2016 season.
Seven Broncos were named All-Mid-American Conference, led by first-team selections in running back LeVante Bellamy and right guard Luke Juriga. Their rushing attack also includes Jamauri Bogan’s conference-leading 15 touchdowns – eighth-most nationally. The strong ground game has helped Western Michigan control time of possession all season, averaging 33:27 per game to lead the MAC and rank ninth in the country.
Western Michigan can also credit special teams play for its success. The Broncos rank second in the country in punt returns, averaging 21.44 yards per attempt and are one of 19 FBS teams with multiple punt return touchdowns.
The Broncos are making their second appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. They suffered a 38-24 loss to Air Force in 2014, their first of three consecutive bowl appearances under former head coach P.J. Fleck. This is Western Michigan’s first bowl berth under second-year head coach Tim Lester.
Tickets for the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl are available for purchase at FamousIdahoPotatoBowl.com. Prices start at $20 for reserved seating in the south end zone. Tickets for reserved seating in the upper curves are available for $30, while main stadium seating is priced at $50 per ticket. A select number of Stadium Club seats are still available for $75 each. A limited number of suites and loge boxes are available by contacting the Boise State Athletic Ticket Office at (208) 426-4737.
PrimeSport, the leader in providing direct access to the biggest sports and entertainment events, has renewed a partnership as the official ticket exchange and game day experience partner for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As part of the partnership, PrimeSport will be offering premium ticket packages that include game tickets plus VIP experiences like pregame field passes and more. PrimeSport will also offer college football fans an officially designated and approved Ticket Exchange marketplace for fans to buy and sell tickets in a convenient, secure and protected environment.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl proceeds provide tickets and/or contributions to Idaho Charities that include the United Way, Optimist Youth Football, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boise School District, Treasure Valley YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Scouts and Armed Forces personnel.
PRIMESPORT is an industry leader in providing direct access to the biggest sporting events in the world, offering tickets, travel, hospitality and VIP experiences on behalf of more than 25 bowl games and nearly two dozen universities. PRIMESPORT is a partner to over 150 rights holders including the NFL, NCAA, the PGA of America and the United States Tennis Association, and provides unrivaled official access for both corporate clients and fans looking for immersive experiences at marquee events including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft, NCAA Final Four, PGA of America events, numerous College Football Bowl Games and the Tennis Majors. For more information, visit www.PRIMESPORT.com or call (800) 591-9198. PRIMESPORT is a division of On Location Experiences, a premium experiential hospitality business.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 32 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 15 college bowl games, 10 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Fla.); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff(Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Texas); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Myrtle Beach Bowl (South Carolina); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Atlanta); Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); SoFi Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta)
AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Fort Bliss, Texas); Charleston Classic (South Carolina); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona (South Bend, Ind.); Myrtle Beach Invitational (Conway, S.C.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); State Farm Champions Classic (Indianapolis) and Wooden Legacy(Fullerton, Calif.)
St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Clearwater, Fla.)