San Diego St routs Buffalo 49-24 in Potato Bowl
Buffalo will have to wait a little longer for its first taste of
Costly turnovers, a stagnant offense early on and a defense that
gave up too many big plays spoiled any hopes of ending a bowl
drought that spans 100 seasons.
The Bulls, playing in the second bowl game in school history,
were overmatched Saturday as San Diego State rolled to a 49-24
victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Fourth-year coach Jeff Quinn was disappointed, but vowed his
team would learn from the experience.
”We need to go back and analyze what transpired on that field
today,” Quinn said. ”Getting to this point, from the invitation
to the recognition of the work they have done … but we need to
know how to get to this point and then how to finish. We need to
learn how to build from this.”
The Bulls (8-5, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) made things
difficult for themselves by turning the ball over, something they
avoided most of the year.
During a 5-minute span in the second and third quarters, San
Diego State (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West) scored 21 straight points. Two
of those touchdowns were fueled by a pair of costly Buffalo
turnovers, the first an interception in the final minute of the
first half by Joe Licata and the second a fumble on the opening
kickoff in the second half.
”Our players were ready and prepared,” Quinn said. ”But I’ve
always said you’ve got to take care of the ball. We didn’t do that.
It got away from us a little bit, but we fought back.”
San Diego State was led by Adam Muema, who scored three
touchdowns and ran for 230 yards, his fourth career game with more
than 200 yards on the ground.
Quinn Kaehler threw for two more scores and ran for another in
leading an offense that generated 460 total yards. Kaehler was 15
of 28 for 211 yards, and his two TD passes helped the Aztecs pull
Taking advantage of a pair of costly Buffalo turnovers, the
Aztecs put up 21 straight points during a 5-minute span in the
second and third quarters.
The Aztecs won eight of their last 10 games. The bowl victory is
the first in the postseason since 2010 when they beat Navy in the
Poinsettia Bowl and the first postseason victory outside San Diego
city limits since 1969.
Buffalo was hobbled by turnovers, but it wasn’t the only
problem. The offense struggled early and the defense failed to do
something it did so well all season – win the turnover battle.
The Bulls didn’t get their first first down until the 10:42 mark
in the second quarter. They pulled to 14-10 late in the second
quarter when Patrick Clarke kicked a 38-yard field goal.
The defense, led by MAC Defensive Player of the Year Kahlil
Mack, didn’t have an answer for Muema and the Aztecs on the
following possession. San Diego State marched 67 yards in five
plays and scored when Muema sped around left end from 8 yards
Moments later, Licata threw his only interception.
”In that situation, I took a risk I shouldn’t have taken.
That’s all on me,” said Licata, who was 13 of 30 for 196 yards and
was sacked four times.
Bulls running back Branden Oliver had for 114 yards on 28
carries, but the rest of the offense only managed 309 total
Mack, who was the focus of San Diego State’s game plan, had just
six tackles, as the Aztecs ran the other way or double-teamed him
throughout. The Bulls came into the game with a plus-1.3 turnover
margin, among the best in the nation. Mack recovered a fumble near
midfield in the first quarter, but the offense couldn’t capitalize
against a defense that pressured Licata and bottled up Oliver
”I missed a lot of opportunities that we usually hit,” said
Licata. ”We made a lot of mistakes and we can’t do that and expect