Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho Beats Colorado State in shootout, 61-50

Idaho receiver Alfonso Onunwor catches the ball over Colorado State defensive back Kevin Nutt Jr. during the first half of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22.
(Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)

Matt Linehan threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a another score to help Idaho beat Colorado State, 61-50, on Thursday night in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in the third-highest scoring game in bowl history.

Idaho (9-4) matched its highest victory total since moving to FBS in 1996, but the victory will do nothing to quell the debate over the school’s decision to move back down to FCS play. In April, the Sun Belt informed the school it was dropping Idaho after the 2017 season.

Colorado State (7-6) finished with a bowl loss for the second straight year.

After a scoreless first quarter, it appeared that both teams had dug in for a defensive battle. But that quickly dissipated as the teams started rolling up points.


The bowl record for points is 125 in Marshall’s 64-61, double-overtime victory over East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. Idaho and Colorado State broke the Potato Bowl scoring record set in 2009 in Idaho’s 43-42 victory over Bowling Green.

The 84 points in the second half are the most combined in a half in any bowl game, breaking the record of 76 set by Tulsa and Virginia Tech last year in the first half of the Independence Bowl.

Linehan, the game MVP honors, tied the bowl record for touchdowns accounted for with five, also matched by Colorado State counterpart Nick Stevens. Linehan, whose father Scott Linehan is the offensive coordinators for the Dallas Cowboys, was 21 of 31 with no interceptions.

Isaiah Saunders led the Vandals on the ground with 147 yards and set another bowl record in the process with 33 carries.


Colorado State wasted a bowl record-setting performance from Stevens. He tied two records — touchdowns accounted for with five, touchdown passes with 5 — and set the passing yards records with 445. He finished 21 of 36 with two interceptions.

Sophomore Olabisi Johnson paced the Rams’ receiving corps with 265 yards — also a bowl record — on seven catches with a pair of touchdowns. The Rams were led on the ground by Dalyn Dawkins with 118 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.