In the second Bowl game of the first Saturday of the season, all eyes will be on the blue turf of Boise State as the Toledo Rockets bring their high-powered offense from the MAC to face the WAC champion Utah State Aggies. Utah State in ranked #22 coming into this game and Toledo found its way into the top 25 before a couple of late-season losses. Here’s the rundown of what to expect in the 2012 Idaho Potato Bowl.
When to Watch: Saturday, December 15 4:30 PM ET
Where to Watch: Live on ESPN from Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
What to Watch for…
When Toledo has the ball: Junior wide receiver and kickoff returner Bernard Reedy is a dynamic talent who can make plays whenever he gets his hands on the ball. The rest of the Toledo offense could be in trouble though as their starting running bak and quarterback missed their season finale. David Fluellen ranks 12th in the country with 1,460 rushing yards despite missing the final game and is expected to be back. The status of QB Terrance Owens is less clear and if he’s unable to play Austin Dantin will get another start. He looked ok against Akron throwing for 327 yards and 5 TDs, but the Zips defense is nothing like what he’ll see if he’s under center for this game.
The Utah State defense is one of the best in the country. They ranked 8th in scoring defense and 15th in total defense. Only three times all year has their opponent reached 20 points and five times they’ve limited their opponent to single-digits. The weather calls for temps in the 30s which should make the Utah State defense even more effective as they look to limit the Rockets high-flying offense.
When Utah State has the ball: Utah State prefers to win with defense, but has also proven it can win even in high-scoring games like their 48-41 overtime win at then-#20 Louisiana Tech. They’ve scored 38 points or more in each of their last six games and in eight of their last nine. The Aggie offense is led by Sophomore QB Chuckie Keeton who threw for 3,144 yards and 27 touchdowns this season with just nine picks. Keeton added 527 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. The big Texan continues to develop into an excellent college QB and could guide the Aggies to a much bigger bowl in the coming seasons if he continues to progress. The Aggies leading rusher and receiver is Kerwyn Williams who finished the regular season with 1,277 yards rushing and 663 yards receiving to go with 17 all-purpose touchdowns. Williams and Keeton will look to put on a show against the Toledo defense.
The Rockets defense has been a major problem this season. Of the 124 teams in the FBS this season, Toledo ranks 121 against the pass, 73 in rushing defense, and 108 in total defense. Toledo has only held opposing offenses under 20 points twice all year. Utah State should be able to pile up points as Toledo’s opponents have been all year.
Who to Watch For-NFL Prospects
There’s no top-tier prospects in this one, as no player from either team is expected to go in the top couple of rounds. However, there are a couple intriguing late-round picks will be Will Davis-Utah State-CB who could go anywhere from the third to the fifth round depending on how he does in the pre-draft process. Another player to watch is Kerwynn Williams-Utah State-RB whose skills as a receiver out of the backfield make him an interesting late-round addition. In the right situation, Williams could have a solid role as a Darren Sproles-lite kind of player.
Utah State almost won this bowl last year before a furious late comeback by Ohio. Utah State’s two losses were to bowl-bound BYU and Wisconsin but a total of five points. Their defense should be able to contain Toledo who faded at the end of the season with losses to Ball State and Northern Illinois before playing a close game in their season finale with 1-11 Akron. This year I think the Aggies close the deal and get the Bowl win.
I wouldn’t mind even giving the points in this game. I have ranked them highly in my bowl mania confidence points as you can see in our entry linked at the top of the page with the rest of our bowl series previews.