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Instant analysis: Ohio 24, Utah State 23
December, 17, 2011
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com
Surprise, surprise: Utah State was in a close game. The Aggies, who have been on both sides of tight contests this season, lost on a last-second touchdown Saturday to Ohio, 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Here's a closer look at how it happened:
Turning point: Facing a fourth-and-6 from the Utah State 14 with 45 seconds left, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton withstood the Aggies' rush and hit LaVon Brazill near the goal line with 37 seconds left to tie the game. Brazill appeared to lose the ball when landing at the 1 but fell on top of it in the end zone. One official signaled "touchdown," the play was reviewed and the head official announced that the play would stand as a touchdown. Then the officials convened again and announced that the ball had come loose, because of the ground, at the 6-inch line, setting up a first-and-goal for Ohio. Tettleton ran it in two plays later on what appeared to be a broken play, tying the game with 13 seconds left. Matt Weller's extra point put Ohio in front 24-23.
Stat of the game: Utah State's Michael Smith had his second consecutive 100-yard performance, tallying 156 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries. His 63-yard touchdown on Utah State's first drive of the second half gave the Aggies a 16-7 lead and looked to put them in control. The Aggies as a team rushed for 342 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
Player of the game: Playing through a torn meniscus and having not practiced leading up to the bowl game, Brazill caught eight passes for 108 yards, including the 13-yard grab on fourth down with less than a minute left that set up the winning score.
What it means: Ohio overcame a crushing defeat in the MAC title game to notch its first 10-win season since 1968 and its first bowl victory in six tries. Utah State, meanwhile, saw its five-game winning streak snapped and lost in its first bowl appearance in 14 years. It also missed out on its first eight-win season since 1979. Add the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to the long list of heartbreakers this season for the Aggies, who also dropped last-second contests to Auburn, Colorado State and BYU.