Updated: December 27, 2011 at 12:00 am
Three things to watch
1. Can either defense get a stop?
Air Force and Toledo can both move up and down the field and score in bunches. And both teams have defenses that struggled at times this season, which could lead to a very high-scoring and exciting game. Toledo gave up at least 60 points twice and Air Force allowed 59 in one game, so points could be plentiful today.
2. Adjust to the quarterback
Toledo has promised to use both of its quarterbacks, Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens, who were both remarkably efficient during the season. The two have different strengths – Owens is known as a more dynamic runner and Dantin is a good passer – though both are very dangerous dual threats. Air Force has prepared for what both quarterbacks can do.
3. Stay motivated
Motivation is usually something to keep an eye on in bowl games, but Air Force and Toledo seem excited to play. The Falcons want to atone for a disappointing season and send the seniors out with a win, and Toledo is still looking for its first bowl win since 2005 after heartbreaking loss in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl last year.
Toledo’s front seven vs. Air Force’s rushing offense
Toledo played the run pretty well this season. The Rockets ranked 26th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing 123.2 yards per game and only 3.9 yards per attempt. But none of the Rockets players have faced a college offense like Air Force, which incorporates the option and uses many different formations and misdirection plays to keep its opponent off balance. Air Force was second in the nation in rushing offense, and Toledo has a major challenging stopping the Falcons.
Quote to note: “I think momentum is absolutely a part of sports, as it is in life too. We’ve been fortunate – the last number of years we’ve played good football down the stretch. I’d say most teams that play in a bowl game, especially if you play good football in November, tend to play pretty good ball. That’s why these bowl games end up being great contests.” – Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
Note to quote: The Rockets, from the Mid-American Conference, are an unfamiliar foe to the Falcons. Air Force has played only two games against MAC teams, splitting a pair of games against Kent State, and the last meeting was 1978.
By the numbers
33: Yards Asher Clark needs to pass Dee Dowis as Air Force’s all-time leading rusher. Clark has 3,580 career yards.
10-10-1: Air Force’s all-time record in bowl games. With last year’s win over Georgia Tech in the Independence Bowl, Troy Calhoun improved to 2-2 in bowls.
22: Yards Air Force’s fullbacks need to break 1,000 for the season. Mike DeWitt has 543 yards, Wes Cobb has 380 and Broam Hart added 55.