NCF Nation: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl 2009 bowls

The Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl was billed as an offensive shootout that would be won by the team that had the ball last, and that’s exactly the way the game unfolded. Idaho mounted an unbelievable comeback in the final seconds and took the lead with a two-point conversion to give the Vandals their first bowl win since 1998. It also gave the WAC its first bowl win of the season. While it’s not a BCS bowl game, the Humanitarian Bowl likely will be one of the most memorable games of the bowl season.

[+] EnlargeRob Akey and DeMaundray Woolridge
Brian Losness/US PresswireIdaho running back DeMaundray Woolridge and coach Robb Akey celebrate the Vandals' win Wednesday night.
How the game was won: With 32 seconds remaining and Idaho down 42-35, quarterback Nathan Enderle threw a 50-yard pass to Preston Davis to get to the 16-yard line. Enderle then found receiver Max Komar in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. With momentum swinging the Vandals' way, they decided to go for two, and Ederle completed the conversion to Davis for the 43-42 win.

Turning point: Idaho was all but counted out after Bowling Green quarterback Tyler Sheehan found receiver Freddie Barnes for a 51-yard touchdown with 32 seconds remaining. But Enderle’s 50-yard heave to Davis gave the Vandals new life. Coach Robb Akey's decision to go for two instead of kicking the game-tying PAT ended up being the right move.

Stat of the game: Bowling Green and Idaho combined for 990 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.

Player of the game: Davis finished with four catches for 119 yards, but no two receptions were bigger than the 50-yard grab that set up the Vandals’ final touchdown and the two-point conversion that ultimately gave them the win (which isn't an official reception). Prior to the game, Davis had not had more than 53 receiving yards in a single game.

Best call: Even if the two-point conversion had failed, Idaho coach Robb Akey still would have been praised for trying to capitalize on the Vandals’ momentum. Akey believed in his team and it paid off with a big bowl win. Akey already was in contract negotiations with Idaho, and this should move them along quickly.

Record performance: Idaho’s heroics will undoubtedly overshadow a spectacular performance by Barnes, who became the NCAA record-holder for single-season receptions with 155, including what looked to be the game-winning reception with 32 seconds remaining. Barnes finished with 17 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns, his second 200-yard game of the season.
This might be the most offensive game this bowl season, and that’s meant to be a compliment.

Both Bowling Green and Idaho both have dynamic offenses and play little defense, which will make this game a fun shootout. Idaho is playing in its first bowl game since 1998 and is angling to get the Western Athletic Conference its first bowl win this season. Bowling Green won four straight games at the end of the season to get into a bowl game and first-year coach Dave Clawson was the only new non-AQ coach to finish the regular season with a winning record.

WHO TO WATCH: Freddie Barnes, WR, Bowling Green

Barnes, a Biletnikoff finalist, leads the country in receptions (138) and touchdowns (16) and is third in receiving yards (1,551). He needs just five catches to break the NCAA mark of 142 in a season, which was set by Houston's Manny Hazard in 1989. What’s even more impressive about Barnes’ numbers is that he’s spent the bulk of the season fighting off double and triple teams. In the last seven games, he averaged 158.1 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

WHAT TO WATCH: Will either team play defense?

For as good as both offenses are, Bowling Green and Idaho's defenses are two of the worst in the country. Bowling Green allows 393.75 yards per game and 26.17 points per game. Idaho allows 424.50 yards and 35.50 points per game. Idaho allowed 146 total points in its final three games of the season. While both of these teams have shown the ability to play in a shootout, the one that steps up and plays any semblance of defense likely will come out ahead.

WHY TO WATCH: Offense, offense, offense

There’s no greater selling point for this game than the offenses. Idaho didn’t score fewer than 21 points in any game this season. Quarterback Nathan Enderle has thrown for 2,666 yards, the most ever in his career, and was second in the WAC in passing offense and passing efficiency behind Boise State’s Kellen Moore. The Vandals rank 10th in the country in total offense. Bowling Green quarterback Tyler Sheehan and Barnes are the best quarterback-receiver duo in the country. The Falcons have scored at least 30 points in each of their past four games.

PREDICTION: This is one of the toughest games to predict because of the lack of defense. But Bowling Green has played better defense this year, and while Idaho has faced some better offenses, I’m giving the nod to Bowling Green’s experience. Bowling Green 45, Idaho 38.

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