Who: Toledo Rockets vs Air Force Falcons
Where: RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
When: Wed, Dec 28th at 4:30 PM EST
Toledo Rockets (8-4, 7-1 in MAC)
Most impressive victory: 36-13 at Temple (Oct 1st)
Worst loss: 40-15 vs Boise State (Sept 16th)
Notable alumni: Bruce Gradkowski, Philip Baker Hall, Lance Moore
Success comes with a price at non-BCS conference schools and this was the case with Toledo this year. Under Coach Tim Beckman the Rockets won 16 games in their last two years and went 7-1 both years in conference games. Because of this, Beckman is now the coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini and OC Matt Campbell will coach the Rockets in this game.
About now, you might be wondering why you should watch this game. If you like offense, then chances are you will get some in this game. The Rockets have scored over 50 points four times this year and have scored over 60 points twice this year including two barnburners where both teams scored over 60.
Don't expect Toledo to provide too much resistent on defense (401 ypg allowed and 30.9 ppg allowed) but they should be fun to watch on offense (42.3 ppg and 492.3 ypg). Toledo's stud is WR Eric Page (112 rec, 10 rec, 1 passing TD, 1 punt return TD). Page can affect the ball game in a number of ways and he's a guy you should keep your eye on in this one. Toledo has a two-QB system (in which both QBs have posted 15 TDs and 3 INT) but Soph Terrance Owens has gotten more playing time down the stretch. He's a dual threat guy but will throw the ball more in this offense. Expect Toledo to score some points. In additon to Owens and Page, Toledo also has a couple of RBs that can run the football. Adonis Thomas is the guy to watch in the backfield as he finished the season with four straight 100+ yard games including 216 yards in a game against bowl bound Western Michigan.
Air Force Falcons (7-5, 3-4 in MWC)
Most impressive victory: 35-34 at Navy (Oct 1st)
Worst loss: 25-17 vs Wyoming (Nov. 12th)
Notable alumni: Troy Calhoun, Chad Hennings, Gregg Popovich
If you want to sum up Air Force's season let's take a look at their wins. The only team they beat with a winning record all year was South Dakota. On the other hand the five teams they lost to all ended up in bowl games. So they don't have any real "quality" losses but on the other hand they don't have any really bad losses. When you look at their schedule the two swing games they had was San Diego State and Wyoming. Air Force had both of them at home and lost both of them.
Air Force ranks 21st in the Nation in points scored at 34.4 per game (Toledo is 8th) and is second in the Nation (behind Army and ahead of Georgia Tech) with 320.33 yards per game. Air Force runs the ball around four out of every five plays. Stop the run (or contain the run) and you beat Air Force. In losses, Air Force gained 75 less yards per game and scored 21 less TDs but of course the competition in wins and losses was very different. For the Falcons to win, QB Tim Jefferson has to come up big. He's the one that's going to be making the decisions on offense and the Falcons most likely win or lose based on how he plays.
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Air Force Falcons
Kevin: I'm going to back to the logic I used in the Temple/Wyoming game. I took Wyoming because Temple hadn't beaten anybody with a winning record. Temple proved me wrong, so you think I would learn from my mistake, right? Not so fast my friend. In college football one mistake you can fall into is trying to compare how teams did against one team and thinking that will translate on the field. So just because Toledo beat Temple who beat Wyoming who beat Air Force it doesn't mean that Toledo is going to beat Air Force. The one thing I keep coming back to is weapons and Toledo has them on their side. This one could come down to who has the football last.
Toledo 35 Air Force 31