THE FORECAST called for a low of 16 degrees, but Utah State wide receiver Nakia Jenkins was taking it like a man. No whining. No complaining. No hand-wringing. If he learned anything in his two years at Utah State, it's to be adaptable.

Still, it wasn't like he was breaking out his boogie board. "When we first heard about play-ing in the Humanitarian Bowl we thought it was a joke. We were like, `No way. Go to Boise to play in the Humanitarian Bowl? It's too cold.' But it looks like we're going," he said.If Jenkins sounds resigned to his fate, consider this: Monday afternoon at Bronco Stadium the Aggies will be playing football in late December, in Boise, under mostly cloudy skies, with temperatures in the mid-30s.

As they say in the beer commercials, it doesn't get any better than this.

In the case of Utah State football, that's truer than one might think. The Aggies have never been choosy about their bowl games. It's safe to say they have never been scouted by, say, the Fiesta, Sugar or Orange bowls. The only way they can get into a bowl is to win the Big West championship and claim the automatic berth, which they did. After losing its tie-in to the Las Vegas Bowl - a small-time bowl in itself - the Big West Conference hooked up with the first-ever Humanitarian Bowl, and the result was the Aggies playing Cincinnati on Monday.

Misgivings aside, it isn't as though they're disgruntled. Playing in a bowl game on ESPN-2 isn't the worst way to spend a December 29th. It's just that when you think of bowl games, you think of palm trees, beaches and a few days in the sun. Instead they get . . . Boise.

A nice place to live but a bad place to visit in December.

Utah State doesn't have a long bowl history. In fact, the Aggies seem to be the death knell for just about every bowl they visit. Of the five bowls they have attended, three are dead and one has re-emerged in a different format, with a different affiliation. The Aggies show up and all of a sudden the bowl goes belly-up.

Their first foray into bowl play was the 1946 Raisin Bowl in Fresno, which resulted in a 20-0 loss to San Jose State. Three years later, just like a raisin, the bowl game withered up and died. In 1947 the Aggies were stuck in Lodi, playing in something called the Grape Bowl. It was so obscure it isn't even listed in the NCAA record book among the top 27 now-defunct bowl games. The Aggies managed only 85 offensive yards and lost 35-21 to Pacific.

In the 1960 Sun Bowl the Aggies lost 20-13 to New Mexico State, despite out-gaining the other Aggies in total offense. The next year they were off to New York for the inaugural Gotham Bowl. Better than Lodi, for sure. But they still got whipped 24-9 by Baylor. That bowl died the next year.

In 1993 they won the the privilege of beating Ball State 42-33 in the Las Vegas Bowl. Though it has dropped its Big West connection, it is still in business, as is the Sun Bowl.

So Monday they play in the first-ever Humanitarian Bowl before a projected crowd of about 19,000. Considering a sizable number of those tickets were sold to the respective schools, it's not like the town is in a swoon over having a bowl game. Even in Boise, where floating the river in summer is considered high entertainment, the game hasn't exactly taken the city by storm.

How long the Humanitarian Bowl will last is anyone's guess. It may end up among the carcasses of other well-meaning bowl games that have come and gone: Bluegrass, Aviation, Bacardi, Camellia, Cherry, Delta, Dixie, Garden State, Great Lakes, Cigar, Bean, Boot Hill, Cement, Corn, Fish, Fruit, Iodine, Kickapoo, Mineral Water, Pelican, Poultry, Peanut, Steel, Tobacco, Turkey, Harbor, Mercy, Oil, Salad and, of course, Raisin, Gotham and Grape.

"It's a big experience," shrugged Jenkins. "When you come from a place like Florida to a place like Logan and you don't know anyone, you have to consider everything an experience. Those are just things you have to deal with as a person. So you can be faced with anything. That's how I'm looking at this."

Besides, he said, if he's going to play in the NFL that means he'll have to play in Buffalo.

"We play our games in Utah, so this can't be any different," said teammate Johndale Carty. "If there's snow, we walk around in it and play in it, so it's the same thing."

So once again the Aggies are awaiting another low-end bowl appearance. It isn't a week in the sun to be sure. But things could be worse than being cold and miserable and playing a game in Boise. They could be cold and miserable and watching from home in Logan.