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How Toledo Got Here
Toledo was one of three MAC teams that were ranked at some point this season. After an eight-game winning streak, the Rockets moved into the top 25 but it was short-lived as they lost to Ball St. at home followed by another loss at Northern Illinois. Toledo closed the season with an unimpressive win over 1-11 Akron so it isn't exactly entering the postseason on a high note. The Rockets were picked as preseason MAC favorites so going from a possible championship to playing a bowl game in Idaho may be a bit of a downer. The Rockets possess an offense that is potent but a defense that is suspect.
Utah St. Got Here
Utah St. came into the season with high expectations and it did not disappoint as it went 10-2 and that could have been even better. The Aggies lost at Wisconsin by two points and at BYU by three points while every victory was by at least a touchdown. They come in riding a six-game winning streak so they have plenty of momentum and with the short turnaround from the final game to the bowl game, that momentum should not be lost. Utah St. has a rather large intangible on its side as it played in this bowl last year and lost to Ohio in the final seconds so it will be out to make up for that disappointment
Utah St. is ranked in the top three in the WAC in all 17 major statistical categories kept by the NCAA while Toledo is ranked third or higher in only one, total offense.
The Aggies are one of the hotter teams in the country not many people may know about as they have won 15 of their last 18 games going back to last season. They do it with both offense and defense as Utah St. has scored 38 or more points in six straight games while scoring 31 or more points in 9 of 12 on the season. Toledo is 105th in total defense and should show little resistance. The Rockets get it done with offense as they are 28th overall and 99th in scoring but the numbers have slipped recently.
Toledo is 6-0 ATS in its last six games as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points. Utah St. is 6-0 ATS after a win by 21 or more points this season.
Toledo Stat Rankings--- On Offense they rank 28th in total offense, 44th in passing, 34th in rushing and 39th in scoring (32.9 ppg). On defense they are 107th overall, 120th vs the pass, 74th vs the run and 59th in points allowed (27.3 ppg).
Utah State Stat Rankings--- On offense the Aggies rank 26th overall, 38th in passing, 37th in rushing and 36th in scoring (34.4 ppg). On defense they are 15th overall, 35th vs the pass, 13th vs the run and 8th in points allowed (15.4 ppg).
Toledo is averaging 456.1 yards per game on offense, including 258.9 passing yards and 197.2 rushing yards per game. The Rockets are outscoring teams 33-27 this season. Toledo is in the top 44 nationally in all offensive categories. The Rockets are +7 in turnovers with 18 giveaways. Toledo is averaging 69.2 penalty yards per game and has allowed 23 sacks. The Rockets are 83/190 on third and fourth down conversions and 40/49 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. On defense, Toledo is allowing 463.2 yards per game including 295.2 passing yards and 168.1 rushing yards. The Rockets are #107 in total defense, #120 in pass defense, #73 against the rush but #59 in scoring defense. This is mainly because the Rockets have forced 25 turnovers and 24 sacks. Toledo opponents are 73/186 on third and fourth down conversions and 31/46 scoring in the red zone with 22 touchdowns. The Rockets have 8 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
On offense, Utah St is averaging 460.7 yards per game including 267.8 passing yards and 192.8 rushing yards. The Aggies are outscoring teams 34-15 this season. Utah St is in the top 38 in all offensive categories. Utah St is -1 in turnovers this season with 19 giveaways. The Aggies are averaging 71 penalty yards per game and have allowed 18 sacks. Utah St is 82/179 on third and fourth down conversions, and 40/49 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns. On defense the Aggies are allowing 322.7 yards per game, including 211.2 passing yards and 111.4 rushing yards. Utah St is in the top 15 nationally in total defense, against the rush and in points allowed. The Aggies have forced 39 sacks and 18 turnovers this season. Utah St opponents are 75/221 on third and fourth down conversions and 25/39 scoring in the red zone with 13 touchdowns.
Picks on Friday night, but in the meantime more info! Chime in with questions on the game or bowl season and anything that is college football!
Gildan Bowl: This is a return trip to New Mexico for the Wolf Pack. Nevada already played one game this year at University Stadium where they edged New Mexico 31-24 in a Mountain West Conference game. Fajardo threw three touchdowns (matching a season high) and also led the Pack in rushing ... this is just the third meeting between the schools, the last one coming in 1941 ... both teams have matching records and the quarterbacks, Matt Scott and Fajardo, are the second leading rushers on their teams.
A word about our sponsor...: According to the company’s website, “Gildan is a vertically integrated marketer and manufacturer of premium quality basic apparel.” Think generic activewear. Yeah, fascinating.
Aces: RichRod brought his turbocharged offensive scheme with him to Tucson and found a quarterback in Scott who’s ideally suited for it. UA finished second in scoring in the Pac-12, averaging more than 38 points per game and trailing only Oregon. The Wildcats ranked third in the conference in offensive yards per play (6.27).
Deuces: Implementing Jeff Casteel’s unorthodox 3-3 Odd Stack on the other side of the ball has proved far trickier. UA allowed almost as many points per game (34.3) as it scored. It’s actually kind of difficult to find one thing that this defense did that wasn’t subpar.
Wildcard: Casteel. Yes, his D stunk for a large part of the season. That doesn’t make Casteel any less of a creative defensive mind. With all of those additional practices leading up to the bowl game, he’ll have an opportunity to both tighten up his defenders’ technique and come up with a plan to keep the Pistol from blowing a hole through his D.