Those smiles may fade a bit when the Falcons look at the film of San Jose State, their opponent in that Dec. 27 game to be played at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The Spartans are 10-2 this season and finished 5-1 in the Western Athletic Conference. Their lone losses were a three-point setback to Stanford to start the season and a loss to Utah State that cost them the WAC title. Among the bowl-eligible teams the Spartans have beaten this season are San Diego State, Navy, BYU, and Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State is ranked 24th nationally in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls. The AP nod was the first for the program since 1975, and the Spartans have not been ranked in the coaches’ poll since 1990.
This is the first bowl appearance for the Spartans since 2006 and the program’s second bowl since 1990. San Jose State was eligible for a bowl in 2008 at 6-6 but did not get an invitation that season.
“No one on our team has been in a bowl game,” SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said. “A lot of our kids have never been out of California [before this season].
“For us this is all new.”
The Spartans feature a high-powered passing offense that ranks 11th among BCS schools at 327.50 passing yards per game. Junior quarterback David Fales ranks third nationally with his passing efficiency rating of 170.91, and his 305.67 passing yards per game rank third in the country.
Defensively, San Jose State is good against the run, allowing just 123.67 rushing yards per game to rank 19th among BCS schools. The leader of the defense is senior defensive end Travis Johnson, who was named WAC defensive player of the year by the league’s coaches after leading the conference in tackles for loss (19) and sacks (12).
Bowling Green began its preparations with three practices last weekend, drills that BG coach Dave Clawson said were “like spring [ball], but shortened.”
The Falcons did not practice this week, instead doing some lifting and conditioning Tuesday before repeating that Thursday and returning to the practice field Friday.
“One of the reasons we are excited about this bowl is because it is great for our schedule,” Clawson said. “We have to navigate finals week, which is next week, and having the bowl in the days after Christmas helps with that.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.