The college bowl season is about to kick off and the Las Vegas Bowl Presented by GEICO has quite the matchup to offer viewers. The Houston Cougars and San Diego State Aztecs meet in this year’s Las Vegas Bowl, which will have to serve as a consolation prize for the 2016 season and the potential each had to play for something bigger this bowl season. Houston was believed to be the top pick to be the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six lineup, as the Cougars were a season ago. San Diego State was right in the mix as well until dropping a pair of games in Mountain West play to end the regular season. The Aztecs rebounded, however, and beat Wyoming 27-24 in Laramie in the conference’s championship game.
So how do these programs get motivated for this one? That should be easy given the leaders on the field both have to rally behind.
Las Vegas Bowl: Houston vs. San Diego State
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Houston -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Major Applewhite makes coaching debut for Houston
You may have heard a thing or two recently about the coaching situation at Houston. Tom Herman has departed the program for a chance to be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, and he is taking a few assistants with him to Austin. Houston initially named defensive coordinator Todd Orlando to be the interim coach for the bowl game, but recently announced it had promoted offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to the position of full-time head coach. That change will be immediate, meaning his head coaching debut will come in the Las Vegas Bowl against a talented San Diego State team.
As Applewhite takes the helm, do not expect too much to change as far as Houston’s offensive identity is concerned. The Cougars should still run the same system under Applewhite, who ran the show as the offensive coordinator under Herman. But with this being Applewhite’s first coaching gig, it will be important to see how he manages the game on the sideline with timeouts, instant replay challenges and other clock management concerns. He also now must make executive decisions with the defense and special teams. And what kind of stamp does Applewhite attempt to leave on the program in game one? Will Houston take a few chances it may not have under Herman? We’ll find out.
Continue reading the full preview for the Las Vegas Bowl on Athlon Sports.