Side Note: Due to time constraints (as well as a hectic work schedule), this will be my last bowl preview until the New Years Day match ups. We hope you have enjoyed all the previews up to this point.
Toledo (8-4, 7-1 MAC) vs. Air Force (7-5, 3-4 MWC)
Line: TOL -3.5, 70 O/U
The Rockets finished their regular season on an offensive high. In their last 4 games (3-1), the Rockets averaged better than 50 points per contest (53.7) as well as an average of 602.7 yards of total offense. The Rockets possess an extremely balanced attack, producing 3,264 yards via the air, and 2,654 yards on the ground. The Rockets led the MAC in scoring offense (42.3 PPG) and total offense (493.2 Yards/Game) this season. Offensive coordinator Matt Campbell assumes the head coaching duties for Toledo, as Tim Beckman accepted the head coaching position at the University of Illinois earlier in the month.
The Falcons aren’t the defensive unit they were just two years ago, however they still found a way to become bowl eligible in 2011. Relying on their triple option attack, the Falcons were the 2nd ranked rushing attack in the nation, averaging just around 320 yards per game (320.3 Yards/ Game). Senior quarterback Tim Jefferson, Jr. spearheads the Falcons ground attack, along with running backs Asher Clark (SR) and Mike DeWitt (JR). The Falcons trio accounted for 66% of the team’s offense this season.
- Junior wide receiver Eric Page continues to rewrite the record books for Toledo. An all-conference selection, Page finished the regular season with 112 receptions, good for 1,123 yards (10 touchdowns). Page had 10 or more receptions (including 16 in the regular season finale versus Ball St) in 6 games this season. He has now accounted for 293 catches, 3,387 yards, and 25 touchdowns receptions since his freshman season.
- After ranking in the Top 10 nationally in scoring defense in 2009 (15.7 PA), the Falcons have seen a steady decline in their production the last two seasons. The Falcons 21.1 points allowed in 2010 ranked 28th nationally. This season, the Falcons surrendered 27.3 points per game to their opponents, dropping all the way to 67th in the nation.
- Aside from a disappointing performance versus Northern Illinois (Toledo gave up 267 yards on the ground), the Rockets have been stout against the run. The Rockets are only giving up 123.1 rushing yards per game, good for 2nd in the MAC. They held the 7th ranked Temple Owls to just 146 yards on the ground in their October 1st 36-13 victory. That was more than 100 yards less than their season average (the Owls averaged 256 yards on the ground this season).
- Although they are primarily a rush oriented offense, the Rockets will definitely have to account for Tim Jefferson, Jr. in the passing game. In their season finale versus Colorado State, Jefferson had completed 75% of his pass attempts for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. It marked only the second time this season that the Falcons surpassed 200 passing yards in a game.
Keys To Victory: Similar to a Georgia Tech or Navy, the Falcons offense can frustrate the opposing defensive unit if they do not execute on their defensive schemes. Although the Rockets have done a great job slowing opposing rushing attacks within the MAC, the Falcons triple options is simply a different animal to contain. The Rockets sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens and Eric Page will need to continue their torrid offensive display of the last month. If not, the Falcons are surely to dictate tempo and get the Rockets off their game.
Falcons win, take the Falcons plus 3.5, and the under
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