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Tag:Adam Kennedy
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:43 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Ohio 24, Utah State 23

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO WON. Tyler Tettleton led the Ohio Bobcats on a 9-play, 60-yard drive in under two minutes and capped it with a desperation scramble into the end zone with 13 seconds left to give Ohio its first ever bowl victory, 24-23, over Utah State. Tettleton connected with LaVon Brazill, Ohio's all-time leading receiver, eight times for 106 yards and one touchdown in the winning effort.

WHY OHIO WON: It's hard to point to much good on the defensive front when a team gives up almost 350 yards of rushing and still wins the game, but the fact is it's a testament to Ohio's defense inside its own 30 yard line that Utah State's offense only scored 21 points (the last two came on a safety -- after Ohio stuffed Robert Turbin at the one-yard-line on USU's opening possession). Moreover, even though Utah State completed 13 of its 20 passes as a team, the production in those plays was so anemic -- under 5.0 yards per attempt -- that Utah State basically couldn't take advantage of Ohio's one-dimensional defensive scheming. Still, this was a one-point victory spread over 60 minutes, and to point to one factor as the defining factor would be to overstate its importance and understate the rest.

WHEN OHIO WON: Utah State had been in nine one-possession games this season, and Ohio seven of its own, so the fact that this one came down to the last minute was actually truer to form than if this had been an uncompetitive game for either team. As such, nobody can be surprised that Ohio's winning score came with 13 seconds left, or that Matt Weller's PAT on the TD gave Ohio its first lead of the entire game. That's just the way these two teams roll. Ohio had one last desperation attempt to score from its own 25, but the ensuing series of ineffectual laterals and general stand-aroundery (new word alert) from the Bobcats made it clear that a career in rugby was in nobody's future there. 

WHAT OHIO WON: For Ohio, the win has no shortage of historical meaning. It's the Bobcats' first bowl victory ever. It's their first 10-win season since a 10-1 campaign in 1968. It's Frank Solich's first bowl victory since winning the Alamo Bowl with Nebraska over Northwestern in 2000. And above all that, it's a great way to go into the offseason for the junior-to-be QB Tettleton and the rest of his teammates.

WHAT UTAH STATE LOST: It must be hard for Utah State not to feel some pangs of painful déjà vu after the series of last-minute September losses it endured to Auburn, Colorado State, and BYU. But the Aggies return their top two quarterbacks (Chuckie Keeton and Adam Kennedy) and most of their offense, head coach Gary Andersen just signed an extension and got a Utah State tattoo to commemorate the season, and now the team has this loss as a motivating factor going into next year. Think there won't be a recommitment to being the best-conditioned team in the 4th quarter after this year? These are the types of losses that push teams to higher levels of dedication in practice, and that's the type of work that pays off during the season.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Here is a full accounting of the 4th and 6 play that put Ohio on the 6-inch line with 40 seconds left: Tyler Tettleton throws to LaVon Brazill, who stretches out and lands the ball near the goal line, at which point he drops the ball and then recovers it on the goal line. The officials signal a touchdown. Head referee Penn Wagers then announces that Brazill recovered his own fumble and was down short of the goal line, but that the play is under further review. The play is reviewed for a couple minutes. Wagers announces that the ruling is confirmed. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill fumbled the ball, then recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill was down short of the goal line, and that the ball should be placed on the 6-inch line, and so it was.

The thing of it is, the correct ruling was obvious after just one viewing of the replay. Brazill lost the ball when he stretched and hit the ground with it, but his knee and hip were both down well before that. Additionall, the ball didn't cross the goal line until after he recovered his own fumble. How there could be such a breakdown in communication to lead to that series of misstatements is astonishing; this should have been a 30-second review. At the very least, though, the final ruling on the field was the correct one, and that's what's most important. 

FINAL GRADE: A. We wanted a close game, and this, like so many of each team's previous games this season, went down to the wire. Not a bad bowl game for the first day of the FBS postseason. May all bowls be as enjoyable as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

A look at the key matchup that could decide the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State vs. Noah Keller, LB, Ohio

If there's one thing to be gleaned from the seasons of Utah State and Ohio, who have combined for 16 games decided by seven points or less this season (half of which, incredibly, were decided in the final minute or overtime), it's that today's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will probably be close, and a full 60-minute affair. If that's to be the case, then this game could easily come down to the heart and soul of the Aggie offense against the heart and soul of the Bobcat defense.

For Utah State, the Aggies' rushing attack (ranked sixth in the nation in yards per game) is led by senior tailback Robert Turbin, who has 1416 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns to his name. Utah State will likely put the ball in Turbin's hands about 25 times in this game, and the only reason it might not be more is because Michael Smith and Kerwynn Williams are also talented ballcarriers -- to say nothing of quarterback Adam Kennedy, who has emerged as a dual threat in the Aggie offense here in the last half of the season. Still, Turbin is the start of the show, and when the Aggies need to keep a drive alive in the 4th quarter, Turbin's going to be the man with the ball.

Thus, Noah Keller, a second-team All-MAC linebacker and the three-time captain of the Ohio defense, is going to have his hands full in this game. Keller wasn't even supposed to be on this team's squad, but early in his senior season in 2010 -- a season that saw him on the Nagurski Watch list and a handful of preseason All-America teams -- Keller tore a ligament in his foot, ending his year in Week 3. He took a medical redshirt year, having played as a true freshman, and has come back to lead the Bobcats in tackling for the third time in his career. And while lingering foot and shoulder maladies have hampered his production this year, there's no doubt that he's ready for one last shot at giving Ohio a bowl victory, and going through Turbin to make it happen. It's not often that the best two players on each team are directly matched up with each other like this, so fans and viewers of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl are, well, in for a real treat.

For a look at the keys to the game for both schools, click here, and check out the rest of CBSSports.com's coverage at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Pregame.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 3:19 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO WILL WIN IF: Donte Harden gets the most touches of anybody on either team. Utah State RB Robert Turbin is a workhorse, but Ohio has its own dynamo in Harden, who leads the team in rushing and also excels in receiving and kick returns. Harden has only found the end zone four times all season, but his ability to move with the ball in the open field and showcase his speed has led to plenty of big plays all season long. Harden's the playmaker in this offense, so the more Ohio gives him the ball, the better a chance he has of at the very least flipping the field and giving the Bobcats an opportunity to put points on the board. 

Meanwhile, Utah State's going to be feeding the ball to Robert Turbin early and often, and why not? He's just outside the Top 10 in rushing nationally, and he's the featured back in one of the nation's most prolific running games. So while Ohio can't directly affect the frequency with which Ohio gives Turbin the ball without injuring him -- and let's hope it doesn't come to that, obviously -- it can exert its best effort to limit Turbin's effectiveness and USU's time of possession. That'll be key, because if that Aggie ground game starts grinding early, the Bobcat defense is in for a long day.

UTAH STATE WILL WIN IF: Adam Kennedy continues to excel at quarterback. Kennedy wasn't really part of Utah State's plans at quarterback this year; freshman Chuckie Keeton was firmly entrenched as the Aggies' starting QB for this year and the future, but a frightening neck injury sustained against Hawaii took him out of the game and, effectively, the season (he is fine now, by the way). Kennedy took over and USU hasn't lost since -- more on that in a bit. The junior quarterback has passed for 10 touchdowns and four picks in his five games of action, and he's rushing for almost 0.5 more yards per carry than Keeton on the year.

That combination of rushing ability and passing efficiency (Kennedy's 180.8 rating would be third in the nation if he qualified) is downright Russell Wilson-ian -- right down to the fact that he's not the primary option on offense -- and like with Wisconsin, it can and does punish defenses that stack the box. Kennedy's sample size is still pretty small, though, and if he finally has a game where he struggles on offense for whatever reason, the Aggie offense could turn one-dimensional in a hurry, and that's any defensive coordinator's dream.

X-FACTOR: The endgame. Utah State was one of the most fascinating teams in college football this year, with its first three losses coming in heartbreaking fashion: Auburn scored two touchdowns in the game's final three minutes thanks to an onside kick recovery and stunned the Aggies 38-35, Colorado State scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with under 30 seconds left to force overtime, then stuffed Utah State on the Aggies' own two-point conversion in OT to win 35-34, and BYU drove 96 yards in under three minutes to score a TD with 11 seconds left and beat USU, 27-24. All of that... in September.

The Aggies ripped off a 5-0 November under Kennedy to get to this point, however, and in a remarkable reversal of their September misfortunes, they usually did so with their own last-minute heroics. Utah State needed overtime to put away Idaho, 49-42, and used a fumble recovery with 5:40 left on its own 11-yard-line to seal a victory against Nevada, 21-17. Those were the two least exciting games of USU's November. The aforementioned trip to Hawaii to start the month's slate, where Kennedy first took over at QB for Keeton, saw the Aggies score with 14 seconds left to complete a 21-0 spree and beat the Warriors, 35-31. The Aggies also scored the game-winning touchdown in the last minute of their 34-33 comeback victory against San Jose State, and USU capped its season with a 13-play, 83-yard drive culminating in a game-winning touchdown pass from Kennedy to Matt Austin with 35 seconds left, beating New Mexico State 24-21.

So Utah State is clearly no stranger to the whims and vagaries of last-minute fate, and while Ohio played in seven one-possession games of its own this season (including a 23-20 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship where the Bobcats led 20-0 at the half, 20-7 going into the fourth quarter, and 20-13 with three minutes left), USU's the team that has won its last five such games. If there's one team to trust in the final minutes of this game, it's probably going to be Utah State -- and that statement would have sounded either cruelly sarcastic or downright insane after September. Such is college football.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com