Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams (15) runs with the ball against Boise State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Nov. 12, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 23-13. AP Photo/Steve Conner

LARAMIE – The University of Wyoming football team is headed back to a familiar spot this bowl season.

UW will face Mid-American East champion Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, in Boise, Idaho. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

“We’re really pleased that this bowl game selected us, simply because of the marquee nature of the bowl game,” Cowboys coach Craig Bohl said during a news conference. “Our players are excited. Entering postseason play, we didn’t know where we were going to play, but they’ve had a couple great practices.

“I know they’re embracing this, and they’re excited about going to Boise. Many of our older players have talked about the different bowl games they’ve gone to, and this one is at the top of the list.”

UW enters the bowl game at 6-6, with a 2-6 record in Mountain West play. The Golden Flashes are 7-6, but went 6-2 in the MAC before falling to Northern Illinois – which the Cowboys defeated 50-43 on Sept. 11 – in the conference title game.

This marks the Pokes’ fourth bowl appearance in the past six seasons, a new program-best. They defeated Central Michigan 37-14 in their only previous trip to the Potato Bowl in 2017.

With Sunday’s invitation, Bohl became the first coach in Cowboys history to lead the team to four bowl games. UW also was bowl eligible after the 2019 season, but did not get an invitation.

“We’re excited for our players, coaches and fans that we have the opportunity to be playing in a bowl game again this year,” UW athletics director Tom Burman said in a news release. “We want to thank the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl committee for inviting us back after we enjoyed such a fantastic experience there in 2017.

“This is the fourth time that Coach Bohl and his staff has taken us to a bowl game, and for some of our players, this will be the fourth bowl team they have been a part of, so we are happy our players get to cap off their careers in postseason play.”

Added Bohl: “One of the challenges Wyoming has had throughout the years is continuity, whether coaches are always wanting to come and go ... or they have a couple bad years and they’re fired. I appreciate our president and Tom Burman having faith in us.”

Kevin McDonald, executive director for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, pointed to UW’s proximity – and thus, ability to bring a sizable contingent of fans – as one of the driving forces in extending an invitation to the Pokes. It’s roughly a 9½-hour drive to Boise from Laramie, and even closer for many of those in the western part of the state.

“It’s important,” McDonald said. “We realize that bowl games are built around great matchups, but also geography making it easier for fans to attend those games. It’s not only a reward to the players, but it’s also a reward to the fanbase. It’s a big part.

“When you think about it, out West, we’re so spread out, and the closest schools for us end up being Utah State, Wyoming, Nevada and Boise State. Everybody else, you’re starting to get into a 10-hour drive to come to the game ... We love the geography, we love the brand, and it helped a lot to have those in place when we made the invitation.”

In addition to the game itself, there will be several other events surrounding the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Among these include: the St. Luke’s FitOne Family Field Day; the Mash Bash, featuring team bands and cheerleaders, the night before the game; and the Albertsons Fan Fest, starting at 11 a.m. on game day.

The Cowboy Joe Club is also hosting a pregame tailgate, which will be complimentary for all Wyoming fans attending the game. Those planning to attend should RSVP by visiting GoWyo.com/tickets, emailing cowboyjoe@uwyo.edu or calling the Cowboy Joe Club at 307-766-6242.

“It’s a great bowl game, a great experience, and it enjoys a great national reputation,” Bohl said. “Kent State is an excellent football team, and our players are very excited ... We’ve had some times where we’ve played really well, and we anticipate playing really well in this bowl game.”

Tickets in UW’s section are currently on sale for $50 each at GoWyo.com/tickets. Corner and end zone seats are also available at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl website for $30 and $20, respectively.

Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at jcriswell@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.

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