LAS VEGAS, NV, Sporting Alert – The 2016-17 college football bowl fixtures kick-off on Saturday with five games.
Among the bowl titles up for grab this weekend is the Las Vegas Bowl with Houston and San Diego State going head-to-head at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Game time for Saturday’s match-up is set for 3:30 pm ET and coverage will be live on ABC and stream live on WatchESPN. ESPN3.com will stream the trophy ceremony.
The Cougars (9-3) made an impressive start to the campaign and had ambitions of making the College Football Playoffs.
Houston won five straight to get its term underway, including a 33-23 victory over then-No. 3 Oklahoma in the season opener, but defeats to Navy and SMU ended any slim chance it had to make the top four.
This Saturday, Greg Ward Jr. and Co. will aim to finish the season on a high against a San Diego State team that has dropped two of the last three games.
The Aztecs (10-3), though, are coming off a 27-24 win over Wyoming last time out, which earn them their second consecutive Mountain West championship and they will be looking to carry over that momentum into the weekend’s contest.
Senior running back Donnel Pumphrey, who has rushed for a career-high 2,018 yards with 16 touchdowns, is expected to play a massive part in San Diego State’s push to win the Las Vegas Bowl.
In his 13 games this season, Pumphrey, who is out to make one final statement after his killer season didn’t even earn him an invite to the Heisman ceremony – has run for more than 100 yards ten times, including four times over the 200 mark.
He will certainly be a target for Houston’s defense, which could find it tough to contain him.
Pumphrey has already put together 6,290 career rushing yards, which broke Marshall Faulk’s school record.
Another key member of the Aztecs’ offense is sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman, who has thrown for 1,866 yards with 19 TDs this season.
Houston enters the game with a 58.5 percent chance to win against SDSU, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, but it depends on which team shows up.
The Cougars, who beat the Sooners and Louisville when both programs were ranked in the Top 5, have been very good against ranked teams, but have also been equally frustrating against the unranked programs.
In addition, head coach Tom Herman left last month to accept the position at Texas, so there will be a different voice calling plays.
At the same time, if Ward Jr. and Co. can play with the same intensity as against Oklahoma and Louisville, Houston will be difficult to stop.
However, if they fail to get it together, then San Diego State will run away with this one.
Elsewhere on Saturday, North Carolina Central and Grambling will battle in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl will see New Mexico and UTSA going head-to-head, while
Appalachian State will take on Toledo in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
In the other games, UCF will take on Arkansas State in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl pits Southern Mississippi and Louisiana-Lafayette together.
Complete Fixture on Saturday: Dec. 17
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina Central vs. Grambling
12 p.m., ABC
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico vs. Texas San Antonio
2 p.m., ESPN, Stream: WatchESPN
University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico
Houston vs. San Diego State
3:30 p.m., ABC, Stream: WatchESPN
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Appalachian State vs. Toledo
5:30 p.m., ESPN, Stream: WatchESPN
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
AutoNation Cure Bowl
UCF vs. Arkansas State
5:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
9 p.m., ESPN, Stream: WatchESPN
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans