According to a report from FOX Sports’ Stewart Mandel, the Idaho Potato Bowl will feature the Idaho Vandals against a Mountain West opponent.
The move means that Idaho would take the place of a Mid-American Conference team.
The news came within moments of the announcements by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy that Miami would play Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg Bowl and that Houston would play the Mountain West Champion (eventually San Diego State) in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Louisiana-Monroe lost to Louisiana-Lafayette, ending NIU’s bid to qualify as a 5-7 team, which would have most likely prevented this scenario of losing the Potato Bowl. The Potato Bowl was the most likely loss, as the Vandals are in their penultimate season of FBS play and are bowl-eligible; it makes total financial sense for the bowl committee to make the move.
The move is significant for a couple reasons: it likely means that Western Michigan has qualified for the Cotton Bowl, which would move the other bowl-eligible teams up the roster. Eastern Michigan has already accepted the Bahamas Bowl bid, so that leaves Central Michigan, Ohio and Toledo as remaining teams if the reports are true.
The Miami decision is a little more perplexing. Wyoming will play BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl, eliminating another potential secondary bid for the MAC to use, which perhaps prompted the St. Petersburg Bowl decision. That’s rather confusing, considering all of the MAC’s primary options were still available.
The MAC only qualified six teams this year, and thanks to WMU’s move up and the potential for Miami to take a non-primary bid, that means three “primary” bowls have to choose between three teams.
Perhaps the move is a signal that a lot of chaos is building in the lower bowls due to the relative uncertainty of who is in the College Football Playoff. Without knowing who emerges from the logjam up top, it’s impossible to gauge which teams will play in each bowl and (ultimately) which conferences cannot fill enough of the primary bowls.
Regardless, the selection process will be a lot of fun to follow today, as the rumors and confirmations will be flying for hours before and after the Final Reveal Show on ESPN, which starts at noon EST.
We’ll be updating you on the bowl selections as they come in.