Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TOLEDO WON. In what was one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season so far, the Toledo Rockets just edged out Air Force 42-41 at the Military Bowl in Washington D.C. As the score in this one indicates, there wasn't a whole lot of defense being played in this contest. In fact, there wasn't a score after the first 9 minutes of the first quarter, but then both teams combined for 35 points in the final 6 minutes of the opening frame.
Air Force actually outgained Toledo on offense, but the Rockets were able to score a touchdown in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens had a great game, completing 20 of his 25 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of those touchdowns were to Bernard Reedy, who had 4 receptions for 125 yards in the game. Adonis Thomas also rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Rockets. Tim Jefferson led the way for the Air Force attack, with 225 total yards and 3 total touchdowns.
WHY TOLEDO WON. Honestly, there isn't really one specific area of the game that you can say Toledo outperformed Air Force. Yes, they had an interception return for a touchdown and a kick return for another score, but I'd say the deciding factor in this one was the fact that Toledo scored the first two touchdowns in this contest. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter Air Force was playing from behind all game and never did manage to take a lead.
WHEN TOLEDO WON. It wasn't until the final moments. On a 4th and 2 at the Toledo 33-yard line, down 42-35, Air Force's Tim Jefferson found Zack Kauth wide open for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 42-41. Air Force then sent its kicking team out, but instead of kicking the extra point, the Falcons ran a fake. One that was beautiful in design, but hideous in execution. The Falcons didn't convert, and then after Toledo recovered the onside kick it was just a matter of running out the clock.
WHAT TOLEDO WON. This was a nice finish to the season for Toledo, as it finishes 2011 with a 9-4 record and a win over a pretty good football team in Air Force. More importantly for the program, the Rockets didn't seem to lose a step after losing head coach Tim Beckman to Illinois earlier this winter. Matt Campbell also gets his first win as the program's head coach in his very first try.
WHAT AIR FORCE LOST. The Falcons lost a bowl game. That's it. They didn't get embarrassed either on the scoreboard or by a bad opponent. They were in this game until the closing seconds, and while it would no doubt have been nice to end the season with a victory, there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here.
THAT WAS CRAZY. This is going back to Air Force's two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. I have no problem with the decision to go for two, as it's a bowl game, and you might as well play to win it. My problem was the fact that Air Force ran a fake kick. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in football. If you're going to go for two, then send your offense out there. Put the players that are used to running these types of plays in a position to win the game, not your kicker or holder. Kickers kick. They don't run the option.
FINAL GRADE: This game was excellent. It was a back and forth affair that didn't feature a lot of defense, but did have plenty of big plays and was a bit of a roller coaster ride. In other words, it kept you entertained for the entire three and a half hours it was played, and what more can you ask for from a bowl game in late December? GRADE: A
Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:56 pm
Postedy by Tom Fornelli
TOLEDO WILL WIN IF: This game is going to be a very interesting matchup. In order for Toledo to come out on top they'll have to continue to do a lot of the things that they did all season, and that means put up a lot of points. Something that the Rockets should be able to do, even without Tim Beckman around. The Air Force defense isn't terrible, but it did give up nearly 28 points a game this season. Which means that Terrance Owens, Austin Dantin and Eric Page should find plenty of opportunity to make plays for the Rockets. Where the problems for Toledo may come is on the defensive side of the ball. The Rockets defense gave up 31 points a game this season and while the run defense was acceptable, it hasn't faced a rushing attack like Air Force. When you haven't faced an option offense it's hard to stop one because you're not quite sure what you're seeing right away. The good news for Toledo is they've had the extra time to prepare for it, but how well the Toledo defense executes on the field will play a big role in this contest.
AIR FORCE WILL WIN IF: The key for Air Force in this game is simple: keep Toledo out of the end zone. While Air Force's defense hasn't been terrible this season, it's also had some pretty bad games. There was a three week stretch against teams like San Diego State, Notre Dame and Boise State in which the Falcons gave up 45.67 points per game. Now, Toledo's offense is different than any of those three teams because it provides more of a running threat at quarterback, but it does have a lot of similar characteristics. So slowing Toledo down will not be easy, but it will be a must if Air Force wants to win. The Falcons should find success on offense running the ball, but not enough to where they can afford to get into a shootout.
X-FACTOR: Eric Page. Simply put, Eric Page is the most exciting player in this game. He's Toledo's biggest threat on offense and he finished the season with 112 catches for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Air Force pass defense hasn't given up a lot of yards this season, but it does allow opposing quarterbacks to complete 61% of their passes, which means Page should find openings on short to intermediate routes and be a favorite target of both Dantin and Owens.
You can read our complete Military Bowl preview here.
Posted on: September 10, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 3:43 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OHIO STATE WON. Though it was not as easy a victory as Ohio State fans have come to expect against non-conference schools in recent years. In fact, this one wasn't settled until the final minute of the game thanks to an Ohio State offense that just didn't look very sharp in the second week of the season. Joe Bauserman did not have to share any snaps with Braxton Miller this week, though maybe he should have as he completed only 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 189 yards and a touchdown. In fact, it's tough to find a star on offense at all for Ohio State in this one, though I suppose Carlos Hyde's 2 touchdown runs qualify, even if he did manage only 3.9 yards on 21 carries.
WHY OHIO STATE WON. Because try as they might, Toledo was its own worst enemy in this game, and the Buckeyes defense came through with some timely stops when it needed to. Still, considering that Ohio State only won this game by five points and was actually outgained on offense by the Rockets 335 yards to 303 yards, you have to wonder how things would have gone if not for the 14 penalties worth 100 yards called against Toledo. One of those penalties was an illegal formation on a punt -- Toledo had roughly a billion of those on Saturday -- that cause Toledo to kick again, and on the second attempt Chris Fields returned the kick 69 yards to give the Buckeyes a 21-15 lead going into the half.
WHEN OHIO STATE WON. This game wasn't over until Terrance Owen's pass on 4th and 5 at the Ohio State 17-yard line floated hopelessly incomplete thanks to some heavy pressure from the Buckeyes front four.
WHAT OHIO STATE WON. The right to say that it still hasn't lost to an FBS level opponent from the state of Ohio since 1921, going 20-0 in 90 years. And that's it, really, as I don't think there are many Big Ten opponents who will look at this game film and see the Buckeyes as a team to be feared at the moment.
WHATE TOLEDO LOST. Aside from being the first Ohio school to beat Ohio State in 90 years, it also lost the chance to claim a victory over a BCS opponent for the sixth straight season. Not to mention the chance to be a MAC school that could claim victories over both Michigan and Ohio State in the last four years. Other than that, I think Toledo gained more in this loss than Ohio State did in victory.
THAT WAS CRAZY. This isn't exactly crazy, but it's a bit telling about the fluidity of this game. Ohio State and Toledo combined to go 6-for-28 on third downs in this contest, yet went 3-for-6 on fourth downs.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 3:59 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Florida International topped Toledo with a last-second field goal, capping a wild fourth quarter, 34-32.
Offense: It wasn't always easy to watch, especially with Wesley Carroll redefining inconsistency at quarterback. But T.Y. Hilton lived up to his considerable hype, playing a role in FIU's three consecutive second-half touchdowns (89-yard kickoff return TD, decoy on wildcat keeper TD, and TD reception) that gave the Golden Panthers their first lead of the game. Hilton was also the recepient of a hook-and-ladder on 4th and 17 on FIU's last drive, which helped set up the game-winning field goal. All in all, Carroll finished 16-27 for 140 yards, a score, and an interception, while Hilton contributed 210 all-purpose yards. Grade: B
Defense: FIU couldn't have completed its fourth-quarter comeback without forcing numerous turnovers, as it so did against Toledo. Toledo QB Terrance Owens was pressured into three second-half interceptions, and a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter nearly buried Toledo. And yet, Toledo was not buried, and the Rockets completed a late drive to take the lead, putting FIU under enormous pressure. It only set the stage for the dramatic final drive, of course, but still: FIU's defense didn't hold when it needed to the most. Grade: C
Coaching: Mario Cristobal did a fine job of not letting his players wilt, whether under the pressure of the program's first bowl game or of the 17-point deficit they found themselves in early in the second half. Some of that credit also goes to Hilton, of course, but Cristobal also did a great job getting the ball into Hilton's hands in a variety of ways -- including that late hook-and-ladder. I didn't agree with all of Cristobal's decisions over the course of the game, but all in all FIU at least stayed in position to win for the entire game, and that credit belongs to the coaches. Grade: B
Offense: Terrance Owens is something of an enigma at QB for the Rockets: wonderfully gifted in both athleticism and arm strength, but a liability in the pocket while under pressure. Owens' three second-half picks (most of which came with him standing still and a defender closing in) helped let the Golden Panthers back in the ballgame, and effectively negated the 304 yards of rushing the Rockets rolled up thanks to running back Adonis Thomas and company. Still, even with a -3 turnover ratio, the Rockets came thiiiiis close to winning the game, and the loss wasn't due to a failure on offense. Grade: B
Defense: During the time it took for Toledo gave up three straight touchdowns to relinquish the lead, the Rockets' defense only gave up 89 yards. Granted, that was still enough for the Golden Panthers' offense to get into the end zone twice, thanks to short fields, but there was also a three-and-out and a Myshan Veasley-Pettis interception in that mix too. And yet, we cannot endorse a defense that allows T.Y. Hilton -- the guy FIU has been trying to get the ball to all game long -- to take a hook-and-ladder for a first down on 4th and 17. How do you not see that one coming? Grade: B-
Coaching: It's hard to put this loss on Toledo head coach Tim Beckman ; after all, it's not as if he never thought to tell Owens to stop throwing passes off his back foot into triple coverage or told his players to ignore T.Y. Hilton. Just like with Cristobal, Beckman had his players in position to win for the entire game; the swings of chance on the field had more control over the final result than did any coaching decision on Beckman's part.
One decision, however, that seems to have backfired was the last two-point conversion. After Owens took in a keeper to bring Toledo within one point with 1:14 left in the game, Beckman decided to go for two points, a decision that seems to have been vindicated by the successful conversion by WR Eric Page . And yet, if Toledo kicks the extra point, this game probably goes to overtime; recall, if you will, that FIU's big play came on 4th down, a play that calls for a punt in a tie game and not an insane trick play. Indeed, by giving his team a one-point lead with 74 seconds left, Beckman essentially gave FIU a daunting but plausible challenge: get into field goal range with that 1:14 or lose the game. Thus, the wild ending. It seems wiser to go for two at the end of regulation only when there's not enough time for the other team to put together a decent-sized drive; 1:14, quite demonstrably, was enough such time. Grade: C
It would be downright ungrateful to give anything less than a stellar grade to a game that features 66 points, five fourth-down attempts, and three lead changes in the last 7:34 -- including two in the last 75 seconds. Sure, the first half was a snoozer, and the turnovers were more the product of poor decision-making than some brilliant defensive work, but this is the type of 60-minute insanity we'd been hoping for all bowl season long. If this is the best bowl of the year, we're all in trouble, but it's at least the best so far. Grade: B+/A-
Posted on: December 16, 2010 10:49 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Why You Should Watch: The easy answer is that if you want to wash down your day-after-Christmas leftovers with college football, the Golden Panthers of FIU and Rockets of Toledo are your only option. So you'll watch them in front of a three-quarters empty Ford Field and like it, buster. But given the dramatic steps forward taken by these two programs under their current coaches -- Mario Cristobal, in his fourth year and first bowl game at FIU, and Tim Beckman, in his second year in Toledo -- this is also a chance to say you saw them before they got hired away by some wealthier school.
Also: electric FIU receiver/returner/jack-of-all-trade
s T.Y. Hilton is, to use the technical term, totally sweet.
Keys to Victory for FIU: Statistically, the Panthers are one of those teams that do just about everything well rather than any one thing really well. They did finish first in the Sun Belt in rushing, total and scoring defense, though (and second in pass defense), boasting a senior first-team all-conference performer in the line (end Jarvis Wilson, team leader in both sacks and tackles-for-loss), linebackers (Toronto Smith) and secondary (corner Anthony Gaitor). And still, for all of that, it was the Panther offense that led the way to the Sun Belt title. Behind conference Player of the Year Hilton and his 1,094 yards-from-scrimmage, and the tailback tandem of Darriet Perry and Darrian Mallary (1,376 combined yards, Mallary 5.67 yards per-carry), FIU scored an average of 37.5 points in their six conference wins.
In a game that looks as even on paper as this one, big plays could prove the difference, and n players like Hilton, Mallary, and Wilson, they have the athletes that can make them. If they do, and quarterback Wesley Carroll can avoid making big plays for Toledo (he threw 13 interceptions this season), FIU should have the edge.
Keys to Victory for Toledo: Unlike the Panthers, there's no question on which side of the ball the Rockets' bread is buttered; there's a solid linebacking tandem here in senior Archie Donald and sophomore Dan Molls (267 combined tackles), but when you've finished seventh in the MAC in total defense, even with nonconference games factored out , defense is not your strength.
What is the Rockets' strength is a balanced offense that doesn't beat itself. With original starter Austin Dantin out with a separated shoulder (whether he'll be available for the bowl is unclear), freshman Terrance Owens took over down the stretch and led the Rockets to a 3-1 record with an 11-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Taking handoffs will be second-team All-MAC tailback Adonis Thomas, who totaled 905 yards and averaged an impressive 5.99 yards per attempt. But the unquestioned star of the Rocket attack is receiver Eric Page, named first team all-conference after racking up 1,081 yards and eight scores.
Page was also named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns. (Between Page and Hilton, you'll really want to watch kickoffs in this game.) His good work and the sticky fingers of the Rocket defense (their 19 interceptions tied for fifth in the country) could tilt the field position battle in Toledo's favor, and if they do, the Owens-Thomas-Page triplets are good enough to take advantage. They'll have to, to keep up with the yards and points the defense will likely concede.
The Little Caesar's Bowl is like: a fireworks show. Maybe Toledo vs. FIU looks about as interesting as a blank black sky, but with guys like Hilton and Page around and a defense as boom-or-bust as the turnover-dependent Rockets involved, if you watch long enough you're sure to see some thrilling explosions.