PROVO — BYU is going bowling.
We already knew that, ever since the Cougars’ 45-10 win over New Mexico State and thanks to a contractual agreement with ESPN Events that would guarantee them a spot in college football’s postseason.
Now we know where they will be going.
BYU will play Mid-American foe Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. The game will kick off Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. MT on ESPN.
Founded in 1997, the Potato Bowl hosts contracts with the Mountain West and Mid-American conferences for a payout of approximately $325,000. BYU will take the Mountain West's slot, but not necessarily for a lack of bowl commitments from the league.
"We are excited to have been selected to play in a bowl game and for the opportunity to face a good Western Michigan team in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement from the university. "Western Michigan is well-coached team, and we are looking forward to the challenge of preparing for the game and making a return trip to Boise.”
The game will be BYU's second trip to Boise of the season, after a 21-16 loss to Boise State on the blue turf back in November.
Boise State's loss to Fresno State in the Mountain West title game, along with UCF's win over Memphis in the American Athletic title game, guaranteed the Bulldogs a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. That left the Broncos for one of the lower-tier bowl games from the league, with a strong possibility of staying home and playing a MAC opponent in the Potato Bowl.
Bowl games are equally about matchups and ticket sales as they are rewards for a good season, and the thought of a Broncos-hosted bowl game likely sent them to another locale.
Western Michigan (7-5) finished 5-3 in MAC play. The Broncos will be playing in the ninth bowl game in program history, and fourth in the past five years.
"We’re excited to host BYU for the first time and welcome back a Western Michigan program that was a great participant a few years ago," Potato Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald said. "This is a fantastic matchup for our community with two teams they will really be able to get behind, along with two young quarterbacks and two up-and-coming coaches."
The Cougars have played Western Michigan five times in program history, boasting a narrow 3-2 record against. BYU last faced the Broncos in 1970, and the two teams have never met on a neutral field.
"We are extremely excited to be invited and accept an invitation to play in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl," Western Michigan coach Tim Lester said. "We know it is a first-class event and are gratified for the opportunity to play on the famous blue turf."
BYU made it back to a bowl game after missing out on the 2016 postseason in the second year of head coach Kalani Sitake, who finished 4-9 a year ago. The Cougars had their 12-game bowl streak snapped last year, a run that went all the way back to the Mountain West Conference and included a heavy amount of trips to Las Vegas.
Tickets are available on BYUtickets.com, or by calling 801-422-2981.