Sunday, December 22, 2013

San Diego State: 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Champions

 — The bowl drought is over.
San Diego State ended its two-year bowl losing streak behind running back Adam Muema, who rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries Saturday to lead the Aztecs to a 49-24 win over Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Bronco Stadium.
After a season in which four of their games were decided in overtime, the streaky Aztecs finally managed to engineer a blowout and play a complete game. And Muema was the key cog in what might be the junior’s final game for SDSU. He’s expected to forgo his senior season of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
It was SDSU’s second win in two years on Boise State’s blue turf, and the Aztecs’ first bowl win outside of San Diego since 1969.
But despite his team’s accomplishment, SDSU coach Rocky Long cautioned against making too much of the win. Instead, he emphasized the Aztecs’ body of work over the last four years.
“Winning and losing a bowl game does not make a program,” Long said. “Getting to a bowl game makes a program, and getting to a bowl game in four straight years makes a program. … We won tonight, and we won convincingly.”
SDSU (8-5) jumped to a 14-0 lead over Buffalo (8-5) by the beginning of the second quarter on rushing touchdowns by quarterback Quinn Kaehler and Muema before Buffalo could convert a single third down.
Buffalo came back with two scores — a 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Licata to Branden Oliver and a 38-yard field goal by Patrick Clarke — to pull within four points of the Aztecs.
But that was as close as the Bulls would get.
“We were just excited to go out and play,” senior receiver Colin Lockett said. “We’d had a lot of time off and had a bad taste in our mouth (from the 45-19 defeat to UNLV), and we just wanted to go out there and prove to everybody that that’s not the team we are.”
The Aztecs turned three Buffalo turnovers into touchdowns and pulled away for good with 28 unanswered points in a 9-minute span that straddled halftime.
Muema, who was named SDSU’s game MVP, started the flurry with an 8-yard touchdown run. Safety Marcus Andrews intercepted a Licata pass to give SDSU the ball at its own 25-yard line, and Kaehler hit Dylan Denso for a touchdown that put the Aztecs ahead 28-10 with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
Denso came up big again to start the second half when he forced Buffalo’s Boise Ross to fumble the opening kickoff and recovered for the Aztecs. Taking over at Buffalo’s 26, SDSU went on a five-play drive that ended with an 11-yard TD pass from Kaehler to tight end Adam Roberts.
The defense, which bottled up the Bulls all game, then forced one of its seven three-and-outs.
Buffalo was 5 of 15 on third-down conversions, and SDSU had four sacks of Licata, who completed 13 of 30 passes for 196 yards. He also threw one pick, and two of his three touchdown passes came late in the fourth quarter.
“I think the guys just decided that tonight we were going to play up to our abilities, and it showed,” senior safety Nat Berhe said.
On their next possession, Muema gained 43 yards on six carries before fullback Chad Young covered the final yard for a 42-10 lead.
The Aztecs had two turnovers to Buffalo’s three.
“It’s always nice when you’re right,” Long said. “I said in a press conference earlier that the turnover battle would make the difference in the game. They had a great turnover ratio, so the odds were that they were going to do it, not us, but we were lucky enough to do it.”
After an up-down season in which most games went down to the wire, the Aztecs made the fourth quarter irrelevant.
“It’s kinda sad we didn’t play like that all year, but at the same time, I’m glad it happened in the game today,” Berhe said.
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