Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Ohio take: The Bobcats rattled off five straight wins to end the regular season before blowing a 20-0 halftime lead Friday and falling by three to Northern Illinois in the MAC title game, ruining their chance at their first MAC title since 1968.
The strength of Ohio is its rushing attack, which comes from everywhere and is ranked 24th nationally. Donte Harden leads the team with 939 yards on 172 carries, but quarterback Tyler Tettleton is not far behind him. Tettleton, the son of former major league catcher Mickey Tettleton, has completed better than 63 percent of his passes, thrown for 3,086 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, in addition to rushing for 627 yards and nine touchdowns. Two other players have rushed for more than 400 yards.
Noah Keller leads the way defensively, with 104 tackles and seven tackles for loss. In defeat Friday, Keller recorded a game-high 13 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one forced fumble and fumble recovery and an interception. Travis Carrie is tied for 18th nationally in passes defended, with 1.23 per game (16 on the season). He has four interceptions for 81 yards and has returned a punt for a touchdown as well.
Utah State take: The Aggies' 24-21 win Saturday at New Mexico State gave them their first seven-win regular season since 1979. Adam Kennedy's eight-yard touchdown pass to Matt Austin clinched it for Utah State. The Aggies had not won seven games in a season — bowl included — since a Humanitarian Bowl victory in 1993. They have just 21 seven-win seasons in 113 years of football.
Their five Western Athletic Conference wins are their most in their seven years in the league. Their 5-2 mark in conference play is their best since going 4-1 in the Big West in 2000 and their most conference wins since 1993.
Utah State has now won five in a row, its longest winning streak since 1993. It has won three straight on the road for the first time since 1989. And this all came after the bad luck early in the season.
The Aggies lost their Week 1 game at defending national champion Auburn by allowing two touchdowns and an onside kick recovery in the final 2:07. They lost to Colorado State following a failed two-point try in double overtime. And they lost to BYU on a touchdown pass with 11 seconds to play.
Six wins later, they're going bowling for the first time since 1997.