BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn doesn't need any reminders about what's at stake Saturday against San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
For Quinn, who took over the program four years ago, it's all about getting the school's first bowl victory, changing history and putting the Bulls (8-4, 6-2 Mid-American) on a different trajectory.
"And for our senior class, this has been four years in the making," said Quinn, who guided the team to its most wins in a season since Buffalo joined the FBS in 1999.
"As we continue to go into the offseason, I think any football coach wants to leave ... and along with the football players, they want to leave the field the right way. To go into the offseason with the kind of momentum a win would give you is a tremendous lift."
San Diego State (7-5, 6-2 Mountain West) is playing in its fourth straight bowl game, the longest streak in school history. But it earned its trip to the high desert in southwest Idaho by turning around a season that started with three consecutive losses.
The nonconference schedule offered the Aztecs no early favors. They were routed by Ohio State in Week 2 and edged by Oregon State at home the following week. But the Aztecs have proved resilient.
They closed winning seven of nine, taking three of those games in overtime. Eight of their games were decided by seven points or less, and in five of their victories, they overcame deficits in the fourth quarter.
"Starting out poorly, when we didn't anticipate starting out like that, I think that was hard on everybody," third-year coach Rocky Long said. "From there on out we never played when we beat anybody badly, every game we played was close.
"Being able to win that many close games to put us in a position to come to a bowl game ... I've never seen a team that was that mentally tough. It's a team that fights to the end no matter what the situation is."
Here are five things to watch:
TURNOVERS: Buffalo has thrived on thievery all season and used those opportunities to put points on the board. On defense, the Bulls have 27 turnovers and the team is fourth in the nation in turnover margin at 1.3. Of those 27 turnovers, the offense has converted on 19 for 113 points. Linebacker Kahlil Mack and defensive backs Cortney Lester and Najja Johnson lead the team with three interceptions apiece. The odds don't favor the Aztecs, who have turned the ball over 28 times this season.