2011 Military - Toledo 42, Air Force 41

Posted Dec 28, 2011

2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2011 Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman

2011 Military Bowl

Toledo 42, Air Force 41

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
19th Total Offense 8th
69th Total Defense 76th
21st Scoring Offense 8th
65th Scoring Defense 89th
2nd Rushing Offense 14th
113th Run Defense 26th
113th Passing Offense 29th
6th Passing Defense 29th
59th Turnover Margin 3rd
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
A   T
4.5 Quarterbacks 4.5
4 RBs 4
1.5 Receivers 4.5
4 O Line 5
2 D Line 3
2 Linebackers 4
3 Secondary 2
3 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 2
Toledo 42 ... Air Force 41
- CFN Thoughts on the Game

Toledo: Rocket quarterbacks combined to complete 21-of-27 passes. … QB Terrance Owens completed 19-of-24 passes for 210 yards and three scores. … Adonis Thomas led the team with 108 yards and a score on 22 carries. … Eric Page caught 13 passes for 59 yards, and Bernard Reedy caught four passes for 126 yards and three score. … Page returned four kickoffs for 153 yards with an 87-yard score. … LB Dan Molls led the way with 12 tackles and a half a tackle for loss.

Air Force: The Falcons converted 5-of-6 fourth down plays. … Tim Jefferson completed 13-of-22 passes for 159 yards and two scores with a pick and ran 14 times for 61 yards and a touchdowns. … Jonathan Warzeka ran six times for 95 yards and caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. … WR Zack Kauth made four catches for 77 yards and a score. … LB Brady Amack made 11 tackles.

(AP) WASHINGTON -- Back and forth they went. A kickoff return for 87 yards. A pitch around the left end for 60. Touchdown passes for 49 and 37 yards. Two touchdowns scored on fourth downs. A pair of botched onside kicks.

And that was just the first half.

Toledo and Air Force ran up the score early and often Wednesday at the Military Bowl and played to a wild finish, decided only when Air Force's 2-point conversion attempt went awry with 52 seconds to play to give Toledo a 42-41 victory.

Air Force lined up to kick the extra point after Zach Kauth's 33-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-3 pulled the Falcons within a point. But holder David Baska ran the option instead and fumbled the ball toward kicker Parker Herrington, who chased it until it went out of bounds in the end zone.

Bernard Reedy's third touchdown of the game -- a 37-yard catch, spin and run on a pass from Terrance Owens -- gave Toledo a 42-35 lead with 5:01 to play and put the Rockets (9-4) over the 40-point mark for a sixth straight game.

The win also marked a successful debut for Matt Campbell, the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The 32-year-old Campbell, who has been the Rockets' offensive coordinator for three years, was promoted to the head job after Tim Beckman left earlier this month for Illinois.

Reedy had a career-high 126 yards on four catches and was named the game's MVP. Owens completed 19 of 24 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Adonis Thomas ran for 108 yards on 22 carries.

Tim Jefferson, the first quarterback in service academy history to lead his team to four consecutive bowl games, completed 13 of 22 passes for 159 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for Air Force (7-6).

The game matched two of the top 25 scoring teams in the country, and they wasted little time living up to their reputations. It was Mid-American Conference member Toledo's spread offense against Mountain West Air Force's triple option, and the idea of a huddle seemed a quaint, antiquated concept.

The Rockets, as expected, featured their Mr. Do-Everything, Eric Page. The junior Paul Hornung Award finalist caught 13 passes for 59 yards, but his biggest play was an 87-yard kickoff return in the first half. Page ran untouched as he followed Reedy's block up the middle of the field for his fourth career kickoff return TD and first this year.

Making big plays for Air Force was Jonathan Warzeka, whose career-best 60-yard run set up one touchdown, and whose 37-yard reception on fourth-and-3 tied the game 28-all heading into halftime.

The second half got off to slow start, with the teams exchanging punts before the game's only defensive score: Toledo safety Jermaine Robinson's 37-yard interception runback after he corralled a tipped pass deep in the secondary.

Mike DeWitt's 2-yard run, his second touchdown of the game, tied it again, this time at 35-35. Toledo went primarily with Owens at quarterback over Austin Dantin, who started the first 10 games of the season before sitting out the last two with a concussion. Both usually get plenty of playing time in each game, but Campbell stayed with the hot hand.

The game, in its fourth year on the bowl calendar, drew 25,042 to RFK Stadium, and large swaths of the upper deck were empty.

Air Force (7-5) vs. Toledo (8-4) Dec. 28, 4:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Can the Toledo offensive machine keep on rolling, and can the Air Force defense do anything to stop it?

By the books, this should be a walk in the park for a Rocket team that blew up for over 42 points per game and scored 44 or more in six of the last seven games including a 66-63 win over Western Michigan and a 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois – with neither one in overtime.

The Rockets aren't known for their defense, but they've been great against the run. What they can't do is stop anyone from throwing the ball, but fortunately for them, the Falcons don't get vertical.

Meanwhile, Air Force put up 45 points in each of its last two games against UNLV and Colorado State, and while the defense was great over the second half of the season, that's partly because it didn't have to face anyone with an offense that can move the ball. The Falcons were torn apart by Boise State, San Diego State, Notre Dame, and everyone else with some semblance of balance. So now the bowl will show whether or not the Falcons improved or if the run of four wins in the final five games was just a mirage.

This was supposed to be the strongest Air Force season yet under head coach Troy Calhoun, but injuries on defense, and inconsistent attack, and too many problems against the run means wins over the mediocre, but nothing to hang a hat on. The seven wins all came against teams that didn't go bowling, while the Falcons were 0-5 against teams that played in the post-season. Essentially, beating Toledo would be the highlight of the year and would help make up for a slew of disappointments.

This is the fifth straight bowl game for Air Force and, arguably, the weakest opponents in the 21 bowl games the program has played. Last year's win over Georgia Tech in the Independence was the cause for so much excitement coming into this year, and the 47-20 shutdown of Case Keenum and Houston in the 2009 Armed Forces was shocking, and now Calhoun and his staff have to come up with one of their best defensive gameplans to pull out a third straight post-season win.

This is Toledo's sixth bowl appearance since 2001, but it only won one of the last four – blasting UTEP in an ugly 2005 GMAC Bowl – and it could use this game as a stepping stone for the Matt Campbell era. With head coach Tim Beckman taking off for the Illinois job, Campbell went from being the interim coach for the bowl game to the full-time head man. The program is his now, and beating Air Force would go a long way to showing he's ready for the job.

It's the fourth year of the Military Bowl, originally called the EagleBank Bowl for the first two seasons. None of the first three matchups were all that interesting – with the 2009 UCLA 30-21 win over Temple by far the best of the lot – and this is the first time the game hasn't had a team from a BCS conference. Even so, with the Toledo offense and the Air Force ground attack, this should be entertaining.

Why Air Force Might Win: Could the coaching change matter? Campbell knows the system and he knows what he's doing with the program, but there's a reason Illinois wanted Beckman. There's no real pressure on Air Force and Calhoun, while all eyes will be on every decision Campbell makes and every move; going against Calhoun isn't an easy way to kick off a career.

Toledo's biggest question mark will be whether or not it can slow down the Air Force option game that finished No. 2 in the nation in rushing. The Rocket defensive front is okay at getting into the backfield, but not great, and it's vital to get to QB Tim Jefferson before he's able to make a decision on the pitch. Toledo was able to stop Ohio State – before Braxton Miller became a major factor – and it held Temple and Boise State each to 145 yards, but like most teams, the Broncos bombed away through the air.

Air Force isn't going to wing the ball all over the year, but Jefferson is an experienced veteran who knows how to make big plays happen deep and he's ultra-efficient and ultra-effective when he does have to throw. The Falcons might be 113th in the nation in passing, but they're 13th in efficiency.

Why Toledo Might Win: Air Force doesn't have the defense. The front three is full of linebacker-sized linemen, the linebackers run about 225 to 230 pounds a pop, and no one gets behind the line. That's part of the Air Force defensive scheme – there's no premium put on rushing the passer – but Toledo has the quarterbacks to make big things happen when they get time. The Rocket offensive line doesn't allow sacks, giving up just ten on the year, and there won't be any threat of pressure whatsoever. The Falcon secondary that doesn't give up a ton of yards but can get beaten deep might get torched by the long ball on a regular basis.

Air Force needs every break it can get to keep up the pace, but Toledo doesn't screw up. It commits too many penalties, and at least two drives will stall on a flag, but the turnovers won't be there. The Rockets have lost the ball just 12 times all season long – only LSU and Wisconsin have given the ball up less – and while the 28 takeaways aren't phenomenal, they've been consistent.

Air Force needs to own the ball and the clock to keep the Toledo offense off the field, but the time of possession stats are reversed from what they probably should be. Toledo is 14th in the nation holding on to the ball keeping it 32:30 a game, while the Falcons keep it for just over 29 minutes. The Air Force defense isn't built to last for long, sustained drives, but that's going to be a problem. The Falcon D is 115th in the nation on third downs and Toledo is among the best in America at keeping the chains moving.

What To Watch Out For: Tim Jefferson is the winningest quarterback in Air Force history, and that includes leading the way to two bowl wins. He struggled against Georgia Tech, completing 11-of-23 passes, but he hit 10-of-14 throws against Houston in the 2009 win. While he's not the runner that normal Air Force quarterbacks are, he's great around the goal line and he's one of the program's most efficient and effective passers throwing for 4,440 career yards and 32 scores. While he had problems with picks over the first half of the season, has hadn't given one away over the final five games. Playing the light part of the schedule had something to do with that.

It's possible this could be the final game in the terrific career of Toledo junior WR Eric Page, who turned his game up a few notched over the final quarter of the season. A major disappointment in last year's Little Caesar's Bowl loss to FIU – catching just five passes for 24 yards – he came back roaring with 112 catches for 1,123 yards and ten scores this season including a five-touchdown day in the loss to Northern Illinois and 46 catches over the final four games. An excellent kick and punt returner, he'll be used and needed in a variety of ways. This won't be a repeat of last year's bowl.

While Jefferson might be Air Force's leader and the main man for the offense, it's been senior Asher Clark who followed up a 1,031-yard season with 1,096 yards and six touchdowns including 169 yards and a score against UNLV and 111 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State to close things out. Unlike last year, he busted out more big runs this season and has been more of a playmaker averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Air Force is 7-2 over the last two seasons when he scores and is 3-1 this year when he hits the 100-yard mark. He's not a workhorse; he has to make the most of 15 carries.

What Will Happen: Normally a coaching change of any sort means a major problem for a bowl team. It won't be an issue for Toledo as the transition will be seamless.

This is an awful matchup for an Air Force defense that can't hold up with high-powered offenses and doesn't have an offense capable of keeping up the pace. Unless the Falcons pull off a defensive shocker – like they did against Houston in the 2009 Armed Forces Bowl – they're going to have a big problem. Toledo can score at any time from anywhere on the field. Air Force can't.

CFN Prediction: Toledo 38 … Air Force 24
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Toledo -3   O/U: 71
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Toledo's coaching turmoil will be the difference. The offense will explode against an Air Force defense that can't stop anyone, but Tim Jefferson and the Falcon ground game will roll for 300 yards.

By Richard Cirminiello 
Study in contrasts. Toledo wants to air it out, while Air Force will be content to pound it out 50 times between the tackles.

By Matt Zemek
This should actually be a fun game. Air Force has struggled all year long, and so Toledo will have a great chance if it can avoid untimely mistakes.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
Two big offenses in this one, with Toledo (No. 8) facing off against Air Force (No. 19). If nothing else, it'll be fun.

By Russ Mitchell
If the Air Force owes money after meeting its ticket obligations for this game, does that mean that I, along with Joe Taxpayer, am footing the bill? If so, I want a program. Ride the Rockets.

By Terry Johnson
Even though Air Force and Toledo utilize completely different schemes, neither of them has had any trouble moving the sticks this season, averaging 5.8 and 5.1 yards per carry, respectively.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
Contrasting styles in this one big time. You know what Air Force brings, and we'll see if the extra time to prepare helps an offensive minded Toledo squad.
Best Bowl Moments

Best Rocket Bowl Moment: Toledo owns seven bowl wins, but the first three came against programs that currently reside in the Football Championship Subdivision. A 2001 Motor City Bowl win over Cincinnati was something to write home about because it gave the Rockets in-state bragging rights, but the 2005 GMAC Bowl rout of UTEP was the Rockets' foremost bowl-game masterclass. A thorough drubbing of one of Mike Price's best UTEP teams marked a flawless performance in a big game, a sweet taste of perfection that never fades away with the passage of time.

Best Falcon Bowl Moment: One of the most decisive postseason wins in Air Force history came in the 1998 Oahu Bowl, a 45-25 demolition of the Pac-10's Washington Huskies. The Falcons were uncommonly balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, quarterback Blane Morgan.

Military Bowl History
2010 Maryland 41, East Carolina 20
2009 UCLA 30, Temple 21
2008 Wake Forest 29, Navy 19

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