Colo. St., So. Miss in Liberty Bowl
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Colorado State on Monday was selected to play Southern Mississippi in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 31.
The announcement ended uncertainty about which bowl _ if any _ Colorado St. would be invited to.
``We made a unanimous decision to have the Rams come to Memphis,″ Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart said.
Colorado State was chosen over other teams including Brigham Young and Utah, which shared the Mountain West Conference lead with CSU.
``It was the doggone tie″ that made the decision difficult, Ehrhart said. He said that the selection ``came down to seeing the performance on the field, the hot team that put it out on the line when it needed to.″
One performance that helped CSU was its 24-13 win over Wyoming on Oct. 24. CSU, Utah and Brigham Young each had 8-3 overall records and 5-2 Mountain West marks, and each team was 1-1 against the other two. But both BYU and Utah lost to Wyoming.
CSU stumbled early in the season but turned around to finish with five straight wins, including a 35-17 victory Saturday over Nevada-Las Vegas.
Colorado State had an anxious two weeks before Monday’s announcement, hearing talk about a trip to the Liberty Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl, the Motor City Bowl or nowhere at all.
``There was never a doubt that we would be in a bowl game,″ running back Kevin McDougal said. ``We’ve come too far as a team that was picked to finish fifth or sixth in the conference to be conference champions and not be invited somewhere.″
Colorado State will make its first bowl appearance since beating Missouri 35-24 in the 1997 Holiday Bowl. The 41st Liberty Bowl will be the fourth bowl for the Rams in seven years under coach Sonny Lubick.