Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:07 pm
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: September 3, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 4:13 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
AUBURN WON: Auburn escaped the season's first out-and-out shocker by the narrowest margin possible, scoring 14 points in the final 3:38 to stun the impressive Aggies. A Robert Turbin touchdown to put USU up 38-28 appeared to have clinched the upset, but a Barrett Trotter touchdown pass, a recovered onsides kick and Michael Dyer touchdown with 30 seconds remaining saved the Tigers from their first loss to a non-BCS school since 1991.
WHY AUBURN WON: Because as been the Tigers' hallmark under Gene Chizik, they refused to fold even in the face of what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit. In his first start as Auburn quarterback, Trotter (who finished an impressive 17-of-23 for 261 yards, three scores, and no interceptions) responded to Turbin's apparent game-ender by taking the Tigers 65 yards in just six plays--and more importantly, just 91 seconds. Cody Parkey's perfectly-executed onsides kick gave the ball right back to Auburn, and an Aggie defense that had stuffed the Tiger running game all afternoon appeared to wilt.
Auburn got the victory despite being mercilessly shoved around by the Aggies on both lines-of-scrimmage. Behind poised true freshman Chuckie Keeton and running backs Kerwynn Williams and Turbin -- who combined for 172 rushing yards -- the Aggies pounded out touchdown drives of 16, 15, 14, and 14 plays while holding Auburn to just 2.6 yards per-carry on their 30 attempts. Thanks to the Aggies' bevy of third- and fourth-and-shorts, they posted a 13-of-20 mark on third- and fourth-down conversions and ran a staggering 84 plays to Auburn's 54. Their lead was entirely earned.
But as they did throughout their run to the 2011 BCS title, the Tigers showed just enough focus and resolve -- especially at the quarterback position -- to pull their singed rear ends out of the fire.
WHEN AUBURN WON: In game this insane, not until Michael Smith was tackled at midfield to run out the clock on USU's desperation drive. But Parkey's onsides kick -- plucked out of the air by leading receiver Emory Blake -- proved to be the turning point. The Tigers didn't face so much as a third-down conversion on their game-winning touchdown drive.
WHAT AUBURN WON: The right to not be mentioned alongside college football's other historically-stunning opening-week upsets, and a "1" in the win column. But other than that, not much else; the young Tigers have major issues along both lines and in a pass defense that under Ted Roof has never seemed sure of itself against controlled short-passing attacks like USU's. There's not much time to repair, them, either, with Mississippi State waiting next week.
WHAT UTAH STATE LOST: A golden opportunity for the defining win of head coach Gary Andersen's three-year tenure. Last year the Aggies offered a serious challenge to Oklahoma but fell short and then sleepwalked through a 2-6 WAC season; Andersen will have to make sure his team doesn't let Auburn beat his team twice, so to speak.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 11:28 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
As the defending Big East champions, the Connecticut Huskies will expect everyone's best shot when they make their rounds back through conference play in 2011. Unfortunately, with a brand new coaching staff and lacking many of the key players from 2010's campaign - things could be a little more difficult. At the end of spring practice, head coach Paul Pasqualoni still had not decided on a starting quarterback, leading to some doubters in the Huskies ability to pass the ball next season. Things became even more difficult on Tuesday when Pasqualoni confirmed that leading receiver Mike Smith was academically ineligible to participate in the fall.
"Michael will be, obviously in the program," Pasqualoni told the Hartford Courant. "He will be in practice each day. He just will not participate in games."
Smith started in all 13 games last season, leading the team in catches (46) and yards (615). Right now the coaching staff is hoping that the senior will stick with the team, taking a redshirt year in 2011 and returning for his final year of eligibility in 2012.
"I do think this is a year that he can use to improve himself all the way around and then still have a final year of eligibility," Pasqualoni said.
Connecticut really doesn't have an adequate replacement for running back Jordan Todman - who in addition to anchoring the Huskies offense, ranked second nationally in rushing. With Smith's ineligibility, the Huskies enter camp looking for true leaders at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions. The defensive line will be a strength, but they will need to be outstanding unless someone shows they can produce points in East Hartford.