Las Vegas Bowl Kicks off Bowl Season with a Bang
The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl is one of five bowl games taking place on December 20th, the first day of the 2014-15 bowl season. Meeting up at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas will be the 23rd ranked Utah Utes against the Colorado State Rams. The Utes enter the game with an 8-4 record during the 2014 regular season, while the Rams will arrive at 10-2, one of the best seasons they have had in recent memory.
Despite the superior record, Colorado State is currently a 4 point underdog to Utah. Part of the reason why the Rams are the underdog may be because they lost their head coach, Jim McElwain, to the University of Florida. The Gators dumped coach Will Muschamp immediately following the season’s finish and hired McElwain with the hopes that he will do the same magic in Gainesville as he did in Fort Collins.
McElwain came to Colorado State following a very successful run as offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban. After finishing his first season at 4-8, the Rams went 8-6 in 2013, including a 48-45 win over Washington State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. McElwain continued his winning ways this year, losing just two games the entire season and cracking the top-25 of the AP Poll in mid-November.
They’ll face a Utah team that went 8-4 this year after starting 6-1. The Utes had one of the most difficult schedules in the country this season, playing five teams that were ranked in the top-25 at the time they met. Utah went 2-3 in those five games, including a 30-28 victory at UCLA when the Bruins were ranked 8th in the country.
Currently, Las Vegas Bowl tickets have an average price of $123 on the secondary market. The get-in price for Utah vs. Colorado State tickets is $54, a number much higher than several high-profile bowl games, such as the Orange Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl has sold out in seven of the last nine years and expectations are this will be the eighth sell-out in the past decade.
The Rams have a high-powered offense, led by quarterback Garrett Grayson, running back Dee Hart, and wide receiver Rashard Higgins. They’ll need all three of their studs to come up big on December 20th if they want to win their second consecutive bowl game as Utah boasts one of the nation’s best defensive playmakers in Nate Orchard. The defensive end is second in the country with 17.5 sacks on the season. If he gets familiar with Grayson, the Utes will be in strong position to take home the 2014 Las Vegas Bowl.
Colorado State is used to being in the underdog position as Washington State was a 3.5 point favorite in last year’s New Mexico Bowl. The Rams held on for a narrow three point victory last year and they will look for a very similar outcome on December 20th. But Utah is determined to win as well as this is the first time the Utes are going bowling in the past three years.