Toledo Rockets vs. No. 18 Utah State Aggies
Dec. 15, 4:30pm (ET), ESPN
Bronco Stadium (Boise, ID)
Line: Utah State -10 1/2
This game features two teams looking to break some major droughts as Utah State is looking to win a bowl game for the first time in 19 years and Toledo, well they are looking to win 10 games for the first time in a decade. Despite the "non-BCS" status of these two teams they've gotten here behind two of the hottest names in coaching circles – Gary Andersen (Utah State) and Matt Campbell (Toledo) and this is a game you can't sleep on as both of these teams can put up points. They should be right at home on the blue turf, where the home Broncos have been putting up crazy points for more than a decade.
Sexiness: Julia Stiles
Chances are if you're under 25 you're asking yourself who the heck is this lady? Well, let us older folk introduce you to classics like "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Save the Last Dance." Much like this bowl game it could be easy to forget all about this actress, but Stiles' recent appearances on Dexter have resurrected her career and popularity as of late. Just like these two teams you could easily overlook her sex appeal, but then you take one look at her and the game and you realize just how foolish you are.
A word about our sponsor…: If you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the commercials all over sporting events this fall for Famous Idaho Potatoes…. Well then I question your fandom. No, but seriously this is a promotional group for the Idaho Potato Farming industry and well, besides the Broncos football team it's really all that Idaho is famous for, so why not celebrate it right?
Aces: A balanced offensive attack has carried this football team all season long and that's mainly due to running back David Fluellen and quarterback Terrance Owens. Thankfully both of them have been practicing this week after suffering injuries late in the regular season. The offense ranks in the top 45 in both passing yards (258.6/ 44th) and rushing yards (191.7/ 37th) and Owens' ability to be a dual-threat will be key to helping Toledo
Deuces: As great as the offense is with it's balance the Rockets defense is, well how should I put this… it's like going home with a 10 and waking up with a 2 in the morning… It's the exact opposite of awesome. They rank 108th in total defense (464.1yds/game) and were giving up a less than stellar 30.4 points to their opponents over the last seven games. It's the passing defense that's really worrisome for the Rockets as they give up nearly 300 yards through the air.
Wildcard: The health of Fluellen and Owens is a major concern for Toledo fans (the hundreds that may actually be in the stands in Boise) because without them this team is vastly different. After all, Fluellen ranks 12 nationally in rushing yards. If they can make it through the game unscathed Toledo has a shot, if not this could be trouble.
Aces: You think I'm going to say their balanced offensive attack, right? Well, you'd be wrong. The strength of this team is the defense. I mean they give up a whole 15.4 points a game, which is 8th in the nation. They give up just over 110 yards a game on the ground (12th nationally) and 322.7 yards in total defense a game (15th nationally). They play team defense and are lead by honorable mention All-American Willie Davis, who ranks first nationally in passes defensed per game (1.75, 21 on the year) and has 5 interceptions too. There really isn't a facet of the game they don't excel against on that side of the ball.
Deuces: It sounds crazy that a team that scores over 30 points a game and gives up just 15 has issues, but Utah State has a major one with turnovers. As a team they've thrown 10 interceptions and have 18 fumbles (9 lost). That's over 1 turnover a game and against a team like Toledo they can't allow them to get any advantage in field position by turning the ball over. It's what cost them games against BYU and Wisconsin and they can't repeat that if they want to win a bowl game.
Wildcard: I personally can't believe I have got to this point without mentioning two names – Chuckie Keeton and Kerwyn Williams. Williams is an honorable mention All-American (1,277 yards, 12TD's) and Keeton is one of the more dynamic playmakers on the West Coast. He's a major X-Factor because Toledo has to be worried about a guy that's passed for over 3,100 yards and rushed for over 500 yards as well, all as just a sophomore.
So you don’t forget…: The Aggies are returning to the site of a horrible memory as they played in the same bowl game last season and led the Ohio Bobcats by as much as 13 points in the 2nd half, yet managed to lose 24-23 on a TD by Ohio with just 13 seconds left. They'll be looking to change that memory in Boise and win their first bowl game since winning in Boise in 1997, when the game was called the Humanitarian Bowl.
Crystal Ball: This one could have blowout written all over it in favor of Utah State. If they could hold the likes of Wisconsin's crazy rushing attack and Montee Ball in check all game long they sure as hell can do it against Toledo. Gary Anderson's squad is perhaps the most underrated, defensively, in the country and they'll show exactly why they are that good in this one. Now that Kerwyn Williams is officially healthy for the Aggies as well then this one is wrap as far as I'm concerned.
Score: Utah State 38, Toledo 20