UTAH STATE (7-5) vs OHIO (9-4)
IDAHO POTATO BOWL | BOISE ID
Sat. December 17 | 3:30 pm MT | ESPN
Heart attack. Roller coaster. From "Gaggies" to "comeback kids." Utah State has had quite the season. After the nation watched the Aggies dominate Auburn for 3.5 quarters only to cough up the upset, Utah State has been up, down, and everywhere in between. Not just in the big picture of the entire season, either, but game to game, the Aggies and their fans have been on a ride. Of Utah State’s 12 games, nine of them were decided by seven points or less (five of them were wins, four were losses).
Winning its last five games to post a 7-5 record, Utah State is in its first bowl game since 1997. Freshman star Chuckie Keeton electrified the nation with his solid play in the almost-upset of Auburn, but went down with a scary neck injury five games ago in Hawaii. Junior quarterback Adam Kennedy is now at the helm and has and has completed 71% of his passes and thrown for 909 yards.
But the Aggies strength is the run game. At 278 rushing yards per game, good for sixth in the country, the star back is Robert Turbin, the WAC offensive player of the year. Despite only getting 40% of his team’s carries, Turbin comes in at 10th in the country with 118 rushing yards per game (1,416 total yards). Turbin shares his carries with Michael Smith and Kerwynn Williams, who have combined to rush for 1,193 additional yards. Defensively, Utah State is solid at stopping the run with as beastly linebacker Bobby Wagner roams the middle. Overall, the Aggies are slightly-above average defensively, but allow 28 points per game due to a consistently-negative turnover margin.
Ohio is bowling for the fourth time in seven years under Frank Solich. But in five previous bowl appearances, the Bobcats are winless. Ohio led 20-0 at halftime of last week’s MAC Championship Game, but surrendered a 23-20 loss to Northern Illinois. At 9-4, the Bobcats are shooting for a ten-win season, something the school has done just once, in 1968. Ohio is statistically sound in every way imaginable. The Bobcats can run the ball (206 ypg, 24th nationally); they can pass (251 ypg, 39th nationally); and they can stop the run (126 ypg allowed, 30th nationally). Ohio’s pass defense and turnover margin are solidly average.
The powerful Bobcat offense is led by sophomore Tyler Tettleton, a dual-threat at quarterback. Tettleton has thrown for 3,086 yards and 26 touchdowns, while also being the team’s leader in rushing touchdowns with nine (and 627 rushing yards). With Donte Harden’s 939 rushing yards, and Ryan Boykin and Beau Blankenship adding another combined 845 rushing yards, Ohio truly is a pick-your-poison offensive power. With receiver LaVon Brazill averaging 16.3 yards per reception (1,042 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns) and making plays on the outside and downfield, Utah State will have a lot with which to reckon defensively.
ZACH: Utah State
DJ: Utah State
BRADFORD: Utah State