Dec. 16, 2011
BOISE, Idaho - Utah State football had a busy fourth day of activity with final preparation for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday.
The Aggies had their final practice in the morning, again going in Boise State's indoor facility, the Caven-Williams Indoor Facility, with Bronco Stadium getting the final touches painted on the blue turf.
"Anything is possible. You just have to put the time and work into it, and that is what we did," senior running back Michael Smith said about being part of the senior class that led the team to a bowl game. "It finally paid off for us seniors. These captains, these leaders and the coaching staff, they worked so hard too. To put is in the position to win and get eligible and get to the postseason. For us seniors, it is everything. This is the last game. You work so hard; all the countless hours that we put in. When I was little, growing up to play Division I football is a great opportunity. Not many people get a chance to play DI ball. I am blessed for this opportunity."
After practice, the team had lunch, then had some free time.
Later in the afternoon 10 players: junior wide receiver Matt Austin, junior linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, senior offensive lineman Philip Gapelu, senior defensive end Quinn Garner, freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton, senior defensive end Levi Koskan, sophomore cornerback Nevin Lawson, senior wide receiver Eric Moats, junior running back Robert Turbin and senior linebacker Bobby Wagner and head coach Gary Andersen were joined by the USU spirit squad and mascot, Big Blue, in going to St. Luke's Hospital in Boise to visit some ill children.
"This is a fantastic experience. A lot of times athletes can get wrapped up in winning a football game. Ultimately, we can positively affect a lot of lives. There were times during fall camp that Coach Andersen would reveal to us certain stories about people and how athletics has influenced their lives, or how the football program has touched their lives. Every time it kind of blows me away how important it is. It is not the wins and losses that matter. It is how important the program is to some people, and sometimes when we have situations like this that can help people because of where we are at. It would be irresponsible of us to not do that. This is a fantastic experience. I am so glad that we all got the opportunity to do this and help these kids out," Koskan said.
The players gave the children USU T-shirts and footballs, as well as Famous Idaho Potato Bowl footballs, while the spirit squad had pom-poms for them. "It is a great opportunity for our players and everyone associated with Utah State to step back and realize how truly lucky we are; how blessed we are to live the lives we are able to live every single day. It is a tremendous opportunity to be involved, and hopefully it is a little bit of a helping hand to help someone in need and give them some support," said Andersen said. "It is a two-way street. These events are always good for both parties. It is great for our young men to be in that setting, and realize at the end of the day how lucky they are to be where they are at in the situations they are in life. Reaching out to other people is a big part of our program as is helping others. I am a excited for us to be here and we are very happy to do it."
Following the hospital visit, the team had some more free time, then a team dinner. After the meal, the Aggies went to a USU pep rally at the Grove Plaza, joining the USU marching band, spirit squad and several hundreds Aggie fans. Sophomore center Tyler Larsen, Garner and Koskan, along with Coach Andersen addressed the crowd, then Andersen presented team-signed footballs to USU President Stan Albrecht and USU Athletics Director Scott Barnes. The team then went through a couple cheers to close out the rally.
After the rally, the players went to a movie, had a snack before winding down for the night on the eve of USU's first bowl game since 1997.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, at 3:30 p.m. MST at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The Bowl will feature the Ohio Bobcats (9-4) of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) against the Utah State Aggies (7-5) of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Utah State is the closest WAC school to the potato-growing region of eastern Idaho, and Ohio is the nation's second-largest state consumer of Idaho potatoes according to the Idaho Potato Commission.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is the second game of the entire bowl calendar and the only one in its timeslot. The Bowl will be telecast nationally on ESPN and broadcast on ESPN Radio. Five of the previous seven games have been decided on the last drive, with an average score of 38-25 over the past 14 Bowls.
A few $30 tickets in the curved areas of Bronco Stadium remain, for purchase in person or over the phone. There are also various $50 tickets on the east side are still available, for purchase in person, over the phone or online. Also, there are also roughly 50 student tickets remaining at a cost of $18 with student ID, for purchase in person only.
For more Aggie Football Famous Idaho Potato Bowl ticket information, fans can contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) or 435-797-0305, in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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