Friday, December 16, 2011
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Utah State
By Matt Fortuna
Ohio and Utah State are a combined 1-11 in bowl games. The Bobcats are coming off a MAC title game loss that featured a 20-point halftime lead that Northern Illinois wiped away, ruining Ohio's chances for a first conference title since 1968. Utah State, meanwhile, lost several heartbreakers during the regular season before bouncing back to make its first bowl appearance since 1997, a Humanitarian Bowl loss, also in Boise, Idaho.
WHO TO WATCH: Robert Turbin. The WAC offensive player of the year is 10th in the nation in rushing, averaging 118 yards per game. His 19 touchdowns are tied for sixth most in the nation. Turbin keys a ground attack that ranks sixth in the nation, averaging more than 277 yards per game.
WHAT TO WATCH: Tyler Tettleton's right arm and legs. The dual-threat quarterback can beat you with his arm or legs. The son of former major league catcher Mickey Tettleton became the first player in school history to surpass 3,000 yards passing (3,086) this season. He's completed more than 60 percent of his throws for 26 touchdowns, with just 10 picks. He's also rushed for 627 yards and nine scores. And he's only a sophomore.
WHY TO WATCH: Ohio is going for its first 10-win season since 1968 in what will be its third straight postseason appearance, although it is 0-5 all time in bowls. The Bobcats are one of just three schools with at least four bowl appearances and no wins. Utah State is going for its first eight-win season since 1979, and the Aggies have won their past five games by a total of 19 points. The game can't be worse than the only other time these schools met, right? Utah State won that 1994 contest 5-0.
PREDICTION: Utah State 27, Ohio 24. The Aggies are looking to extend their five-game win streak. The Bobcats are trying to bounce back after their five-game win streak was snapped in the MAC title game. These squads match up pretty evenly, but Utah State's learning experiences from close losses this season -- last-second defeats to Auburn, Colorado State and BYU -- will once again serve the Aggies well late Saturday.