Toledo, Utah State poised for Potato Bowl matchup

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 14, 2012
In so many ways, 2012 has been a season of firsts for Utah State. The No. 18 Aggies set new school marks with 10 wins and six home victories. They won their first outright conference title since 1936. The Aggies (10-2) reached new heights behind one of the nation's stingiest defenses, an opportunistic offense and a senior class that has been one of the best ever recruited to campus. Yet despite all the accolades and achievements, fourth-year coach Gary Andersen knows there is one more milestone yet to be crossed off this year's list. ''For me, this team will always go down as one of the special groups I've ever been around for what they've accomplished,'' Andersen said. ''What they've accomplished to this point, no one can ever take away from them. ''We've been able to get a couple of championships on our wall since we've been there. But we don't have a bowl game trophy up there yet, and we need to be able to get that done.'' The Aggies will get their shot when they square off with Toledo (9-3) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium in Boise. The game is one of two marking the kickoff of college football's frenzied bowl season. In their first-ever meeting, Utah State is favored by 10 1/2 points. But if the history of this bowl game is any guide, this matchup between teams from the WAC and MAC will be fun to watch, tight and likely decided in the final minutes. Last year, Ohio scored a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to knock off the Aggies 24-23. That loss left a bitter taste, but also laid the foundation for the team's goals and mindset heading into 2012, said senior cornerback Will Davis. ''Last year we didn't get it done ... now we're back in the same spot and it's like a second chance. You don't want to lose a second chance, a second opportunity,'' said Davis, who leads the Aggies with five interceptions. For Toledo, it's a chance for coach Matt Campbell to put a stamp on his first full year at the helm. Last season, Campbell, who at 33 is the youngest coach in FBS ranks, took over after Tim Beckman was lured away to Illinois and guided the Rockets to victory over Air Force in the Military Bowl. This year, Campbell has led a team that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode after losing a big batch of talented seniors. Campbell and his staff were also forced to deal with injuries to a handful of key players on both sides of the ball. Yet the team found ways to win. During one stretch, Toledo won eight straight, including an upset of then-No. 18 Cincinnati, crept into national polls and for the first time in school history cracked the BCS standings. ''Last year we had a really talented football team,'' Campbell said. ''This year's senior class, there are a lot of guys that have played a lot of football. Maybe it's not the big-name guys, but their leadership ... has been outstanding. I really think it set the foundation for our football program for not only this year, but for years to come.'' Toledo's injury woes also occurred at quarterback. Junior Terrance Owens, the starter who threw for 2,677 yards and 14 touchdowns, missed the finale against Akron with an ankle sprain. Backup Austin Dantin ensured the offense didn't miss a beat, throwing for a career-best 327 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-23 win over the Zips. Campbell said Thursday he wanted to see how Owens performed in practice before making a decision on his starting quarterback. ''I would expect to see both playing in the game,'' Campbell said. Either way, the Toledo offense is likely facing its toughest challenge of the season against Utah State's defense. The Aggie defense is ranked in the top 15 in points allowed (15.4), total yards allowed and rushing defense. The Aggies also average 3.2 sacks per game and have only allowed opponents 13 touchdowns in 39 trips inside the red zone. ''The most staggering statistic is the first quarter, and allowing only six points all season,'' Campbell said. ''They try to take away your best players and they do a good job of that.'' Toledo's offense is led by all-conference tailback David Fluellen. The junior has rushed for 1,460 yards, eighth among FBS running backs. He has 13 TDs and three games with more than 200 yards rushing. He's also a threat on passing plays, and his 32 catches are third best on the team. ''When you sit back and look at them and really break them down, you see they have a very powerful run game,'' Andersen said. ''They are able to run the ball consistently week in and week out, regardless of opponent. We'll have a good challenge for our defense.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Browns’ Joe Thomas: ‘I’m already seeing memory loss’

Westbrook hasn’t ‘even thought about’ contract extension

Pirates call up Gift Ngoepe, first MLB player from African continent

‘Well-connected’ people believe Trubisky will go No. 1

Teams could trade into first round for Davis Webb

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: No communication between Derrick Henry, Titans

Adrian Peterson releases statement about joining Saints

Marshawn Lynch confirms he has joined the Raiders

Report: Titans reportedly looking to trade out of top five

Report: Doc Rivers will remain with the Clippers

Rondo rules himself out for Game 5, unsure about Game 6

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

Box Score 4/26: NFL Draft eve

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Draft do-overs we'd most like to see

NFL Draft X-factor players you may have missed during their college careers

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Draft do-overs we'd most like to see

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker