CFN Analysis - Toledo Wins Military Thriller
Posted Dec 28, 2011

CFN Instant Analysis on Toledo's thrilling win over Air Force in the Military Bowl

CFN Analysis   

Toledo 42 ... Air Force 41

By Pete Fiutak

- Toledo doesn't know how to play a boring game. The defense did what it could, but it couldn't come up with enough big stops to put the game away.

- RB Adonis Thomas might be Toledo's heart-and-soul player, but Terrence Owens is proving he's the star. The junior left-hander should be in for a huge year if Eric Page comes back for his senior year.

- You don't think Air Force was dialed in on keeping Page in check? Allowing a player to catch 13 passes for 59 yards happens by design.

- And then comes Bernard Reedy, who made big play after big play to make the Falcons pay.

- No, you don't go for two on a trick/fake in the final moments. If you're the better team, you don't get cute when you don't have to.

- Unless Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun didn't think his defense had a prayer of coming up with a stop in overtime.

- Know the situation. Toledo PK Jeremiah Detmer was 5-for-5 coming into the game, but he missed a 47-yarder. Could that be in his head? Meanwhile, Air Force kicker Parker Herrington was 15-of-18 on the year coming into the game. You go to overtime and you give your team a chance.

- For everyone who whines about there being too many bowl games, this is proof in the strength-in-numbers theory. No, Toledo vs. Air Force isn't anything to get too fired up about, but this might turn out to be the best game of the bowl season.

By Richard Cirminiello 

How does Air Force of all schools fail to properly execute an option pitch with the game on the line? It doesn't matter that holder David Baska is a placekicker by trade, he has got to make that pitch to Parker Herrington when the Falcons went for a game-winning two-point fake with under a minute left. By osmosis alone, you'd assume that everyone associated with the Academy could make the necessary yardage to pull out this victory.

Message to Dan Hawkins: Take your time getting back on the sidelines … please. The Hawk is the most refreshing voice to emanate from the booth in years. The former Colorado and Boise State head coach is entertaining, insightful and unscripted, a real joy to listen to for a few hours.

It was a great evening in Washington for Toledo, but not so good for MAC defenses. Not only has record-setting Rockets WR Eric Page indicated he'll be back for his senior year, but the sophomore connection of Terrance Owens to Bernard Reedy looks pretty darn potent as well. The pair hooked up four times, three resulting in touchdowns of at least 17 yards.

Good for you, Matt Campbell, winning your first game at the tender age of 32. Now go out and spend the next few months figuring out a way to plug the holes in your defense. Toledo should have few problems piling up the points in 2012, but that defense needs a new look and better fundamentals if the program is going to win a MAC championship anytime soon.

Every option-based offense ought to have a quarterback like Air Force's Tim Jefferson in the cockpit. For a guy whose best assets are his quick feet and athleticism, he sure does throw a nice ball. That threat through the air is going to be missed now that the four-year starter has exhausted his eligibility as a starter.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

- The MAC delivered compelling games all season long, and the Military Bowl didn't disappoint. Sure, Toledo is probably the most MAC-tastic of all of the MAC teams, but on a weekly basis, there was not a more entertaining conference from top to bottom.

- I love the fake extra point call by Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun after the potential game-tying touchdown. The play worked too, it was just poorly executed. In a shootout like that, I'm just fine with playing for the win.

- Toledo wide receiver Eric Page is the real deal. Hopefully next season more people pay attention on those MAC Tuesdays. The NFL scouts sure will be.

- Looking at the box score, it's remarkable that there wasn't more offense. Air Force finished with 408 yards and Toledo only had 350. For a game that was so much fun, the defenses played well too.

- If you knock the inconsequential bowls for being unwatchable, you haven't watched the bowl games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Little Caesars, Belk and Military Bowls have all been thoroughly entertaining.

By Terry Johnson
Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball

- I hate to sound like a broken record, but does the Mountain West really expect to get an automatic bid to the BCS next season? Losing two bowl games against MAC opponents will not help their case.

- On the other hand, the MAC has had a solid bowl season, winning three of four bowl games.

- Keep an eye on new Toledo head coach Matt Campbell. His hiring might not have sent shockwaves across the college football world, but he will quickly establish himself as a solid head coach.

- With Air Force rotating coverage to neutralize Eric Page, Bernard Reedy emerged as the difference maker for the Rockets. Reedy caught four passes for 122 yards and 3 TDs – including the game winning score in the fourth quarter.

- Ironically, Toledo's defense and special teams – areas that have plagued them all season long – made the difference in the game. Without Page's kickoff return for a TD, or Jermaine Robinson's pick six, the Rockets lose this game.

- It will not show up the stat sheet, but the Rockets defended the option well, producing several negative plays. In addition, they limited Air Force to only 4.6 yards per carry – something that TCU (5.8) and Notre Dame (6.1) did not do.

- Air Force deserves a lot of credit for clawing their way back into the game. Every time it appeared that the Rockets were going to pull away, the Falcons battled right back to tie the game.

- Contrary to what many of the experts will say, Troy Calhoun made the right call at the end of the game. Other than ESPN commentator Dan Hawkins, no one expected Air Force to run a fake kick. Even though the Falcons failed to convert, I have to tip my cap to Coach Calhoun for playing to win.

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

- Was there any doubt that this was going to be a high scoring game? I mean, that is the type of game that Toledo always gets involved in this year isn't it?

- How can our nation's finest playing for Air Force--who should be more disciplined than most other FBS teams--not make the right call and pitch the ball on the fake FG attempt at the end? All place-holder David Baska had to do was drop the ball off to a wide open place-kicker Parker Herrington, and he could have done the Macarena into the endzone.

- Some games you have to be amazed by the stat lines and ask yourself how one team didn't win. Air Force outgained Toledo in total yardage, converted five of six fourth down conversions (two for scores), dominated the time of possession, grinded out more yards on the ground, had a stale mate in the turnover battle, and committed less penalties. The result--a not so kind one point loss. Go figure...

- Is it just me, or should it be sacrilegious for the Air Force Academy to have a team heavily reliant upon the ground game. I mean, strap on some missiles and unleash the aerial assault with a shock and awe campaign the college football world has never seen. Our troops can send a laser guided bomb through an enemy's front door, but the branch of the military created to soar through clouds can't seem to manage to put together a coaching staff and game plan to throw a post pattern. What gives?

- In the way too often look at how the MAC is faring, it now sits at a surprising 3-1 in bowl games so far. The league is still alive for one whale of a winning percentage with two winnable games left. It's not like the teams are annihilating quality opponents, but bragging rights for the best league winning percentage are alive and well in the heartland.

- You never know what kind of game is going to present itself in each bowl game. With the psyche of players and teams, the layoff, and the revolving door that is the coaching carousel, a team's preparation and ultimate performance is sometimes a shadow of what it was during the season. Luckily, this one ended up being highly entertaining.

- Congrats to new Toledo coach Matt Campbell on his first game, first win, and first bowl win all layered into this baby..At 32 years old, there will plenty more chances to make an impression.