The Buffalo Bulls entered the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl looking to win their first-ever bowl game, but the San Diego State Aztecs were having nothing of it. Aztecs head coach Rocky Long got his first bowl win with San Diego State as his team cruised to a dominant 49-24 victory.
Buffalo couldn’t get it going on offense, gaining only 309 yards of offense and failing to pick up a first down until its fifth drive of the game.
The Aztecs, on the other hand, had no problems moving the football behind a splendid performance from running back Adam Muema. San Diego State piled up 460 yards of offense and benefited from three Buffalo turnovers that gave the Aztecs excellent field position.
Adam Muema has his 4th career 200-yd rushing game, including 2 this season. Overall, #MWFB has had 10 200-yd rushing performances on the yr— Mountain West (@mountainwest) December 22, 2013
Turnover margin had been a strength for the Bulls all season long, as they had only coughed up the ball 12 times in 2013. Unfortunately for head coach Jeff Quinn, his team couldn’t hang on to the ball in the bowl game.
The first quarter was ugly, filled with punts and a couple of turnovers, but the Aztecs got on the board at the end of the quarter on quarterback Quinn Kaehler's 29-yard run.
San Diego State didn't need to wait too long to get the ball back, as quarterback Joe Licata fumbled the ball on Buffalo's second play of the second quarter.
Taking over on the Buffalo 30-yard line, the Aztecs didn't have far to go and took a 14-point lead when Muema found the end zone for his first touchdown of the day.
The Bulls scored 10 points on their next two drives to make it a four-point game, but that was as close as they got.
Two critical Buffalo turnovers just before and after halftime (an interception and a fumble on the kickoff return to open the second half), gave the Aztecs two more possessions starting inside the Bulls' 30-yard line, and they capitalized on the field position to punch it into the end zone.
Buffalo didn't score again until the fourth quarter, by which point the game was already decided.
Adam Muema (RB), San Diego State: A+
Adam Muema was spectacular, rushing for over 200 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He showed excellent burst, vision and the ability to make defenders miss, and he terrorized the Buffalo defense all game.
Adam Muema is having a MONSTER day. 28 carries, 229 yards, 3 TD, including this 30-yarder to make it 49-17 SDSU » http://t.co/84lbIM2Pr0— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 22, 2013
The running back tweeted earlier in the week (since deleted) that he would enter the NFL draft, and this performance will certainly help his draft stock.
Khalil Mack (LB), Buffalo: B
Khalil Mack was the player many tuned in to see since the outside linebacker is projected to be an early first-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Constant double-teams limited Mack’s impact on the game, but the linebacker still made a number of impressive plays that showed his potential and talent. He recovered a fumble early in the game and then racked up tackles for loss and batted passes at the line of scrimmage.
It wasn’t the dominant performance Mack hoped for in his last college game, but he made plays despite being the focal point of San Diego State’s blocking schemes.
Quinn Kaehler (QB), San Diego State: B-
Kaehler led an Aztecs offense that put up 49 points. He went 15-of-28 for 211 yards and two touchdowns through the air and added a touchdown on the ground.
He received a lot of help from three Buffalo turnovers and an outstanding performance by his running back, but Kaehler converted that good field position into touchdowns and took care of the ball.
Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata will be back for his junior year, and Quinn will have to hope he can take some big steps in his development to carry a squad missing three of its best players.
Mack will graduate and enter the 2014 NFL draft, and the Bulls will also lose leading rusher Branden Oliver and leading receiver Alex Neutz, who are both seniors.
Losing the bowl game was disappointing for the Bulls, but the appearance is a good step in the right direction for the program.
On the other sideline, the huge win was a nice way to end the season for San Diego State, and the Aztecs have some nice pieces to work around for next season.
Kaehler has proved to be a solid starter who can lead his team, and there is plenty of talent on the Aztecs roster. If Muema stays in school, this team will be the class of the Mountain West Conference next year.