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College Bowl previews - Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Amongst the brethren of guest writers on the site these days, there is plenty of expertise across a wide range of sports. For the NCAA Bowl series, James Jack, @materialista27, has stepped up with some previews. Read more of his work on his special College Bowl site.

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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Saturday December 15th, 2.30pm MT (9.30pm GMT)
Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (formerly the Humanitarian Bowl) is an NCAA-sanctioned post-season college football bowl game. It debuted in 1997 and has been played annually at Bronco Stadium on the campus of Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. The game currently matches a team from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), usually the conference's champion facing a team from the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The current Potato Bowl champions are the Ohio Bobcats; they defeated Utah State 24–23 in the 2011 game.

Beginning in 2008, the Humanitarian Bowl (in conjunction with the Truckload Carriers Association) featured a "Highway Angel", a truck driver who performed a heroic feat to save the life of another motorist. The 2011 Highway Angel, Marcus Beam, received his award on December 17, 2011. Beam was driving near Benson, North Carolina when he observed a speeding car strike another vehicle, causing the second car to overturn and roll down an embankment. While other motorists watched without offering help, Beam freed the female driver from the wreckage, and pulled two small children from the mangled vehicle as well.

For Utah State to win
Maintain the balance they’ve shown in the regular season, get off to a fast start and stifle Toledo’s ground game. The Aggies have a mean defense, only allowing 15.4 PPG and 110 yards per game rushing so if they’re anywhere close to that on Saturday night they’ll complete their redemption from last season’s collapse.

The Aggies have outscored opponents 131-6 in the first quarter this season, allowing just two field goals. They have held their opponents to single figures 5 times this season including their tough 6-3 defeat @ BYU. If they get a two touchdown lead in the first half of this one, Toledo will struggle to keep up.

In a similar fashion to the Patriots in the NFL, Utah State defers when it wins the coin toss. This allows them to set the tone by getting a quick stop, striking quick and upsetting their opponents no doubt long agonized game plan.

Unlike many college teams, the Aggies have a pair of fine wide outs, so can quickly move the ball downfield and with Kerwynn Williams averaging 6.4 yards per carry, they have a well balanced offense which will have the Toledo defense struggling. The only issue they can have will be with the blue turf. Ticket sales figures also give the nod to the Aggies, with the crowd expected to be largely partisan for Utah State, as Boise is only 300 miles from Logan.

For Toledo to win
A balanced offensive attack with a slight bias towards the run has carried this football team all season long behind running back David Fluellen and quarterback Terrance Owens. Both players were injured in the back end of the season, but reports say they both practiced this week and should be fine for the game.

Although Owens hasn’t put up stellar numbers through the air, he has the prerequisite for college quarterbacks these days, quick feet and scrambling ability. He has given up 8 picks this season; however his role Saturday will be to look for Bernard Reedy, their 1000+ yard receiver, and if he can’t get it in his hands, aim for the first down marker with his feet.

The Rockets also need to find a way to stop the Utah State offense, something they’ve struggled with most of this season. They give up 464.1 yards per game and 27.3 points. They haven’t been too bad defending the run, but giving up nearly 300 yards through the air to a team with two 650+ yard receivers spells trouble. If they want any hope of winning this one, they need to halt UT State’s passing attack and force them to run over them. Even so, they won’t be able to stack the box, so they’ll have to stop the run with seven men.

Although Owens and Fluellen will start the game, they need to finish it to give Toledo any chance, especially as they can’t count on a great travelling support

VERDICT
Utah State have far too much for Toledo. This has blowout written all over it. They’ll start running over the Rockets, and when Toledo try to stack the box, Chuckie Keeton will pick them apart in the secondary. The problem with this game is not who will win, but more how much the Aggies can beat the spread by. The loss here last year hurt Utah State badly, and they’ve looked on a mission all season to redeem themselves. The Utah State defense keeps this one under the points line, but it should be an entertaining game, especially if you’ve never seen the Smurf Turf.

ADVICE
Utah State -10.5
Under 58.5 pts

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