Tag:Toledo
Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Toledo WR Eric Page entering 2012 NFL Draft

Posted by Chip Patterson

Toledo all-purpose wide receiver Eric Page has had a change of heart, and plans to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. After the Rockets' 42-41 victory over Air Force in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28, Page gave the impression that he would return for his senior season. After receiving more information on his potential draft position, the 2010 All-American return man has decided to forego his senior season and turn pro.

“It’s always been my dream to play in the NFL and I think right now is a great opportunity for me,” Page said. “This would have never been able to happen without my teammates, coaches and my family.”

CBSSports.com currently has Page listed as the sixth-best wide receiver in the 2013 class, but the junior informed the Toledo Free Press that his projection is between the third and fifth round in the 2012 NFL Draft. All-purpose threats like Page often can improve their draft stock in combines, using their speed and athleticism to wow NFL scouts.

Page leaves Toledo as the school's all-time leading receiver with 306 career receptions, tied for most in Mid-American Conference history with Jordan White (Western Michigan 2007-11). He earned All-American honors in 2010 as a returner and was a 2011 finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the most versatile player in college football. Page averaged over 172 all-purpose yards per game this season, finding the end zone 12 times in 13 games.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 4:17 pm
 

2011-12 All-Bowl Team

J. Darin Darst

Another season gone and another SEC team has been declared BCS Champions.

And after 35 bowl games, it's time to look back and remember some of the great individual performances of the past month. Here are the best in this year's All-Bowl Team:

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia (Orange): The junior had quite a homecoming in South Florida, setting three Orange Bowl records. He threw for a record 407 yards and accounted for seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in the Mountaineers' 70-33 thrashing of Clemson. Smith finished 32 of 43 passing, while also rushing for 26 yards on five carries.Geno Smith

RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Alamo): All the attention was on Robert Griffin, but the senior had quite a game. He rushed for 200 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns -- all in the second half. He scored on runs of 89, 1, 1, 4 and 43 yards.

RB: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (Fiesta): Another running back in the shadow of his quarterback, Taylor had a strong performance in the loss to Oklahoma State. In his best game of the season, the junior ran for 177 yards on 35 carries, while scoring two touchdowns (1 and 4 yards).

WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Orange): Not to be overshadowed by teammate Smith, the junior receiver had his own amazing Orange Bowl. He set a bowl record with 280 all-purpose yards, including 117 receiving yards on 11 catches. He also recorded four receiving touchdowns. Austin, who was a member of the CBSSports.com All-America Team as an all-purpose player, also finished with a 23.4-yard average on five kickoff returns.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Fiesta): The junior playing in his final college game, went out with a bang. He had eight catches for 186 yards (23.3-yard average) and scored three touchdowns. Blackmon was a huge part of the Cowboys offense, scoring on catches of 43, 67 and 17 yards.

WR: Patrick Edwards, Houston (TicketCity): In an era of huge offenses, it's only fitting to have three receivers on this year's All-Bowl Team. The senior had one of his best games of the season, catching 10 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns in the victory over Penn State. Edwards scored on passes of 40 and 75 yards.

TE: Ladarius Green, La.-Lafayette (New Orleans): The senior has had quite a career at Louisiana-Lafayette, but before bolting off to the NFL, Green helped the Rajin Cajuns win their first bowl game. He had five catches for 121 yards and scored on a 20-yard reception.

Offensive Line: Nate Potter (LT), Joe Kellogg (LG), Cory Yriarte (C), Chuck Hayes (RG), Charles Leno (RT), Boise State (Maaco): The offensive line not only blocked for Doug Martin, who ended up with 151 yards rushing, but didn't allow a sack in Kellen Moore's final game of his college career. Potter, Yriarte and Hayes go out with Moore as one of the most successful senior classes in history.

DL: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Fight Hunger): In his final college game, the junior recorded five tackles, including three for a loss and 1.5 sacks against UCLA. The Bruins were held to 18 yards rushing and Mercilus was a big reason for that.

DL: Cordarro Law, Southern Miss (Hawaii): The defensive MVP of the Hawaii Bowl led the Golden Eagles with seven tackles, 4.5 for a loss and recorded two sacks.

Courtney UpshawDL: Mike Martin, Michigan (Sugar): The senior had a strong performance, recording 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks in Michigan's victory over Virginia Tech. The defensive end helped limit the Hokies to just one touchdown.

DL: William Gholston, Michigan State (Outback): The sophomore had a great game against Georgia, recording seven solo tackles, including five for a loss, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

LB: Kiko Alonso, Oregon (Rose): The junior recorded five tackles, including 2.5 for a loss with 1.5 sacks. But his biggest play of the game was when he intercepted Russell Wilson late in the third quarter, which set up Oregon's go-ahead touchdown. Alonso earned defensive MVP honors from the Rose Bowl for his outstanding play.

LB: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (BCS championship): The defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game, Upshaw was the leader for the Crimson Tide, allowing LSU to cross the 50-yard line only once. Upshaw finished with seven tackles, including six solo with one sack.

LB: Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (Pinstripe): He led the Scarlet Knights defense with 13 tackles, including seven solo, to go along with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in the victory over Iowa State.

DB: David Amerson, N.C. State (Belk): The sophomore added two more interceptions to his total, giving him an ACC record 13 for the season. Amerson also returned one for a 65-yard touchdown and recorded five tackles in the victory over Louisville.

DB: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt (Liberty): One of the best defensive backs in the SEC went out in style, recorded eight tackles with two interceptions while being named defensive MVP for the game.

DB: Dexter McCoil, Tulsa (Armed Forces): The junior had one of his best career games, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions against BYU. McCoil actually intercepted a third pass from quarterback Riley Nelson, but it was nullified after a Tulsa penalty.

DB: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (BCS championship): The leader of the Alabama secondary recorded four tackles, including two for a loss, while shutting down LSU's Rueben Randle in the BCS championship game.

Eric PageP: Paul Hershey, Ohio (Idaho Potato): The senior had six punts for 300 yards (50.0-yard average), including three inside the 20 (two inside the 10). With 4:23 remaining and Ohio down by a touchdown, Hershey nailed a 49-yarder down to the Utah State 7. That punt allowed Ohio to play the field position game, getting the ball back at their own 39 and scoring the game-winning score with seven seconds remaining.

K: Jeremy Shelley, Alabama (BCS championship): Shelley had quite a redemption game against LSU the second time around. The junior hit five field goals -- 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards in the championship game to help Alabama build a 15-0 lead.

KR: Eric Page, Toledo (Military): One of the best kick return man in the nation, Page returned four kick returns for 153 yards (38.25 avg), including a 87-yard touchdown in the victory over Air Force.

PR: Joe Adams, Arkansas (Cotton): Adams did it again, returning his fourth punt this season for a touchdown, breaking a 51-yarder in the victory over Kansas State.

All-Purpose: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (Rose): The freshman had quite a game against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He rushed for 155 yards on two carries, scoring both times. One of those runs was a 91-yard burst. Thomas also had 125 yards on four kickoff returns, to go along with 34 yards receiving on four catches.







Posted on: January 4, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 3:08 pm
 

Jon Tenuta leaving Illini, back to NC State

Posted by Chip Patterson

Just one day after NC State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta reportedly accepted the defensive coordinator position on Tim Beckman's staff at Illinois, the 31-year veteran assistant coach has decided to return to Raleigh.

Tenuta has played a big role in the Wolfpack's success at linebacker over the last two seasons, coaching all-conference talent like Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, and Audie Cole. On Wednesday, Illinois released an official statement from Tenuta regarding his decision to return to NC State.

"Illinois is a great program and I think the world of Tim Beckman," Tenuta said the official release. "I've known Beck for 20 years and I have no doubt that with the staff he is putting together, he will have Illinois at the top of the Big Ten very soon.

"However, my family comes first and I may have made a decision without fully thinking through the situation with them. My son is a senior in high school and has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at N.C. State, and it is something I just don't want to miss. I was one of the first people to contact Beck and congratulate him on the opportunity at Illinois, and I wish him and the Illini nothing but the best."

The Wolfpack have won 17 games in two seasons since Tenuta joined Tom O'Brien's staff, including two bowl game victories. He spent time with Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech and Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, but was not retained after head coaching changes at both stops.

The decision leaves Beckman with four unfilled slots on the Illinois coaching staff. He will be bringing two assistants with him from Toledo - Alex Goldsh as an offensive assistant and Mike Ward as a defensive assistant - and has opted to retain defensive line coach Keith Gilmore from Ron Zook's staff. Beckman has chosen to wait on assigning specific titles, though it was reported Tenuta would be the defensive coordinator.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Toledo 42 Air Force 41



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 21, 2011 11:13 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Report: FIU working on extension for Cristobal

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Wednesday night it was reported that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst had become the frontrunner to land the Pitt job. News that was somewhat surprising because FIU's Mario Cristobal had been rumored to be the lead candidate for the position. Well, we may now know why Cristobal's name suddenly dropped from the discussion.

According to the Miami Herald, FIU has been working to sign Cristobal to an extension. In fact, the paper calls them "aggressive negotiations." While I try to get the image of members of FIU's athletic department literally punching Cristobal in the face with contract offers, it should be pointed out that Cristobal did just get an extension from the school earlier this year.

That extension lasts through 2016.

While there's no word on how long this latest extension will be, it's pretty clear that Cristobal is a coach FIU values and really wants to keep around for as long as possible. And it's hard to blame them for it.

The program has only been around for a decade, and its rise under Cristobal has been remarkable. The Panthers won the Sun Belt Conference last season and finished the year with a win over Toledo in the Little Caesar's Bowl. While 2011 wasn't as successful, the Panthers still did reach a bowl game for the second consecutive season, losing to Marshall in the Beef O'Brady Bowl on Tuesday night.

Combine all that with 19 of 22 starters returning in 2012, and it's easy to see why FIU wants Cristobal around.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
 

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted by Eye On College Football 


Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?


Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!

WHO WOULDN'T WATCH?

Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

To chime in on the bowl schedule debate, or offer your own changes; "Like" us on Facebook and let us know what you think.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 15, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Military Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Military Bowl

Toledo defense vs. Air Force option attack

I couldn't single out a single player on Toledo's defense for this matchup because when it comes to stopping an option offense like Air Force employs, it's not on one single player. It's a team effort. Everyone must stick to their assignment and execute consistently to be successful.

Something that isn't easy to do when you don't see a lot of option attacks. If it was then Air Force wouldn't have finished second in the nation in rushing yards this season with 320.3 yards per game (shockingly, the top four rushing attacks in the country are Army, Air Force, Georgia Tech and Navy). Unfortunately for Toledo, it's not accustomed to facing such an attack, and to do so will be quite an adjustment.

The best rushing attack Toledo faced this season was Temple, and in that game the Rockets held the Owls to only 145 yards on the ground, a full 111.5 yards below what Temple averaged on the season. More good news for Toledo is that it's 28th in the nation in overall run defense and 48th in the country on defense in yards per carry. So the Rockets can and have stopped the run this year.

That being said, stopping Temple's rushing attack is a lot different than Air Force's. Toledo's defensive line will have to focus more on maintaining their gaps rather than penetration into the backfield to force the ball outside. Once there it will be up to the Toledo linebackers to keep to their assignments.

Don't follow the ball, follow your assignment.

It's impossible to stop Air Force's offense on every play, and they will break through for some big gains, but if Toledo can stick to their assignments it could keep Air Force from being able to sustain long drives without turning to its passing game. And if you force Air Force to pass more than it wants to then you're at the advantage.

If Toledo isn't able to adapt to facing such an offense, then Air Force is going to control the ball and keep Toledo's offense on the sideline. Which would easily tilt this game in the Falcons' favor.

You can read our complete Military Bowl preview here. 
Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Military Bowl

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