These programs will meet in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at 3:30 p.m. ET Tuesday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. But both have gotten here on virtually opposite paths.
The Aggies have been in a bowl each of the past five seasons, and they’ve been in this specific game in all but two of those years. Akron on the other hand? The seniors on this team endured a 1-11 season as freshmen, and the program hasn’t been to a bowl game in a decade.
This might not be the most exciting of the bowl matchups this season. But that doesn’t mean nothing’s on the line. Here are three reasons to watch -- besides the fact it’s the only game on TV:
1. Both programs are on the verge of making history. Akron has never won a bowl game. Never. And it has played only in one bowl -- a 38-31 loss to Memphis in the 2005 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl -- since joining the FBS in 1987. On the flip side, a victory would clinch Utah State’s fifth straight winning season, a feat it hasn’t accomplished since 1971-1975, when undersized defensive end Alan “Madpup” McMurray had 19.5 sacks one season and running back Louie Giammona rushed for a national-best 1,534 yards in another. One team here will make program history.
2. Watch two top-25 defenses go at it. The Aggies are No. 22 in total defense; Akron is No. 17. The Zips are No. 3 nationally in rush defense, while Utah State is No. 14 in pass defense. Group of 5 teams or not, there are some solid players to keep an eye on here. Akron linebacker Jatavis Brown leads the Mid-American Conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (17.5), and he paces his team in tackles (108) and forced fumbles (3). At Utah State, linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil both made first-team all-conference, and Vigil leads the Aggies with 140 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss.
3. Chuckie Keeton is one of Utah State’s best quarterbacks of all time. He has battled injuries his entire career and played in just 15 games the past three seasons, but he’s actually set to play in this bowl. It’ll be a fitting way to end his career, because his first postseason game also came at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He’s Utah State's all-time career leader in touchdown passes (61) and quarterback rushing yards (1,416), and he’s second in passing yards (7,279). Keeton is an exciting player, and he’s worth watching.