2012 Independence - Ohio 45, ULM 14

Posted Dec 28, 2012

2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence

2012 Independence

Ohio 45, ULM 14

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central

- CFN Thoughts and Analysis on the Independence Bowl 

National Rankings
43rd Total Offense 34th
61st Total Defense 71st
52nd Scoring Offense 25th
52nd Scoring Defense 61st
29th Rushing Offense 80th
67th Run Defense 30th
62nd Passing Offense 27th
54th Passing Defense 104th
9th Turnover Margin 25th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
O   LM
4 Quarterbacks 4.5
4.5 RBs 2
3.5 Receivers 4
3 O Line 2.5
2.5 D Line 3
3 Linebackers 3
3 Secondary 2
3.5 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 3.5
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Tyler Tettleton threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, Beau Blankenship scored four touchdowns, and Ohio cruised to a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at the Independence Bowl on Friday.

Chase Cochran caught three passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as the Bobcats (9-4) won their second straight bowl game. Blankenship's four rushing touchdowns set an Independence Bowl record. He added 104 yards rushing.

Tettleton was especially sharp in the first half, completing 9 of 14 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio built a 24-7 lead.

Louisiana-Monroe (8-5) struggled in its first bowl game after 19 seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Kolton Browning completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three first-half interceptions.

Ohio broke several Independence Bowl records, including the 31-point margin of victory and 556 total yards.

Ohio lost four of five games to end the regular season - including the last three - but looked crisp in a complete performance against the Warhawks.

Tettleton's 2012 season had been a slight disappointment considering the huge numbers he put up the year before as a sophomore, but his performance against Louisiana-Monroe was a reminder of how good he can be. He finished 14 of 22 and averaged more than 23 yards per completion.

Blankenship finished with a school record 1,604 yards rushing yards this season and topped the 100-yard mark for the 10th time. All four of his touchdown runs came from 2 yards out or less.

Louisiana-Monroe came into Friday's game with the better storyline and basically a home-field advantage. The Warhawks were playing in their first bowl game after joining college football's highest level in 1994 and secured a bid in Shreveport, which is only about 100 miles from their campus.

But that emotional lift didn't help ULM's defense, which was torched by Tettleton's deep ball accuracy early and Blankenship's hard running late.

Tettleton needed just three passes to lead Ohio to its first touchdown. He hit Tyler Futrell on a 26-yard gain and Chase Cochran on a 51-yard strike before finding Donte Foster for the 3-yard score.

A few minutes later, Tettleton hit Cochran perfectly in stride for a 68-yard touchdown that gave the Bobcats a 14-0 lead.

Louisiana-Monroe briefly showed some life early in the second quarter when Browning's 14-yard touchdown pass to Tavarese Maye cut the margin to 14-7.

But Ohio came right back, using Matt Weller's 38-yard field goal and Blankenship's 2-yard touchdown run to push ahead 24-7 with 4:50 left in the second quarter. Blankenship's touchdown run was set up by Browning's third interception of the first half.

Louisiana-Monroe had a chance to cut into the deficit just before halftime, but coach Todd Berry's gamble to go for a touchdown instead of a short field goal backfired when Browning's final pass of the half sailed harmlessly out the back of the end zone.

Berry's gamble wasn't a surprise - the Warhawks had gained a reputation for unorthodox play-calling during their record-setting season. But nothing seemed to work against the Bobcats, and the large ULM fan contingent had mostly disappeared from the stands by the end of the third quarter.

Ohio (8-4) vs. ULM (8-4)
Dec. Dec. 28, 2:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal … There was a time in mid-September when this would've been one of the it games of the early part of the season. Ohio had beaten Penn State to kick off a run of seven straight wins, and ULM shocked the world with a thrilling overtime victory over Arkansas before dropping a tough overtime battle against Auburn and losing to Baylor in a firefight. Of course, no one knew at the time that Arkansas and Auburn were really, really bad at playing college football this season, but it was still a big deal for a Sun Belt team to play around with the SEC.

Both teams struggled a bit late in the year, with the Warhawks losing back-to-back games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State, and Ohio politely bowing out of the second half losing four of its last five games. However, the fire should be there from each team in a game that has the potential to be an interesting fight. ULM likes to crank up the offense, and the Bobcats are excellent at plowing away with their running game. There's a bit of a contrast in styles, but at the very least, motivation won't be a problem.

This is the biggest bowl game in ULM history because it's the first bowl game in ULM history. This is also the first winning campaign since 1980, with head coach Todd Berry doing a fantastic job of cranking up the offense to finally get the team over the hump. ULM has been decent for years, but it could never seem to win enough close games and could never seem to put it all together. No matter what happens against Ohio, the season has been a rousing success.

Ohio is used to getting an extra game under head coach Frank Solich, going bowling four times since 2006. However, last year's 24-23 thriller over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was the program's first post-season victory in six tries. The Bobcats haven't exactly been great at bowls under Solich, getting blasted by Troy in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl and blown away by Southern Miss in the 2007 GMAC. Unlike ULM, Ohio actually does need this game or else the season really will be a major clunker. The schedule was too light – only three games, and Penn State, against teams good enough to go bowling – and the team was too good to fizzle as badly as it did. One win in the bowl would wipe away the final five weeks.

History is on the side of the bowl being decent. Two of the last three have stunk, but six of the last eight have been decided by a touchdown or less. With the rarity of two bowl bound non-BCS conference teams with their coaches still around, this should be a well played battle.

Players to Watch: If the season had ended on September 15th, a reasonable case could've been made that ULM QB Kolton Browning would've deserved the Heisman. The junior had bombed away for 412 yards and three scores, and ran for 69 yards and one more, in the win over Arkansas, and he played his heart out in a 237-yard, three touchdown, one rushing score day against Auburn. He was banged up late in the year, missing the Arkansas State game, but he came back roaring against North Texas to finish with 27 touchdown passes, seven rushing scores, and just seven picks. At 6-1 and 198 pounds he's not all that big, but he's a baller with great shiftiness and speed.

Ohio's Beau Blankenship very, very quietly rumbled for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. A workhorse of a pounder, he ran 43 times for 269 yards and two scores against UMass to cap off a run of five straight 100-yard games to open the season. With a reduced workload after so many carries early on, he went three straight games without hitting 100, and then he came back to form with 161 yards and three scores in the loss to Ball State. With good hands as a receiver, and time off to rest up, he should be a mortal lock for 100 yards.

Also red hot to close out the regular season was ULM senior receiver Brent Leonard, Browning's most reliable target with four touchdown grabs against South Alabama to start a stretch of five straight games with 93 yards or more. Over the span he caught 55 passes for 519 yards and seven touchdowns, while also serving as the team's main punt returner. While he's great in the open field, he's at his best when it comes time to moving the chains on third down.

ULM will win if … this gets into a shootout in any way. Ohio has a passing game and it can get the deep ball moving a bit, but ULM is far better equipped stylistically to get up and down the field in a hurry. Giving up points and big plays in the secondary isn't a big deal for this team, mainly because it's so amazing at converting on third downs and matching big plays with more big plays. The ULM passing attack might not be all that efficient, but it's strong enough to spread out a Bobcat defense that hasn't seen too many dangerous quarterbacks. It did a decent job against Matt McGloin and Penn State in the opener, but it struggled against Miami University's Zac Dysert and Ball State's Keith Wenning and Kelly Page.

Ohio relies on the other team screwing up, but ULM shouldn't oblige. The Warhawks are decent when it comes to penalties, committing just five more than the Bobcats, and turnover margin shouldn't be much of an issue. ULM is 25th in the nation, but …

Ohio will win if … it wins the turnover margin big. The Bobcats don't make a slew of huge mistakes with just eight turnovers on the year, and when they do, they usually correct them with timely takeaways. The key for Ohio will be to hang on the ball with long, sustained drives using their solid offensive front and Blankenship to come up with manageable second and third down distances. Holding on the ball for well over 31 minutes per game, slowing the pace down to a deliberate crawl will be a must to keep Browning and company off the field. It's all about ball control, ball control, ball control.

And that's where Blankenship will really pay off. The four worst days from the ULM run defense came against Auburn (255 yards), ULL (234), Arkansas State (200) and Baylor (169). Those just happened to be the four games this year the team lost, and considering Ohio averages 202 rushing yards per game, having a strong ground attack could make all the difference.

What Will Happen: It's a straight across I-20 W, 110 miles and about one hour and 45 minutes away. That's how far Shreveport is from Monroe for a fan base that gets to watch a bowl game close to home. Yes, it would've been a lot more fun if Louisiana Tech hadn't totally screwed up hoping for a bigger bowl, and yes, Ohio doesn't exactly move the needle, but these are two tough teams that aren't going to dog it in any way. However, ULM will be at an extra level with the home crowd in place and the offense to keep the Bobcats on their heels. Ohio will make this a battle, but the Warhawks will come away with a fun victory in its first post-season try.

CFN Prediction: ULM 38 … Ohio 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) ULM -7 O/U: 60

Independence Bowl History
2011 Missouri 41, North Carolina 24
2010 Air Force 14, Georgia Tech 7
2009 Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20
2008 Louisiana Tech 17, No Illinois 10
2007 Alabama 30, Colorado 24
2006 Oklahoma St 34, Alabama 31
2005 South Carolina 38, Missouri 31
2004 Iowa State 17, Miami-Ohio 13
2003 Arkansas 27, Missouri 14
2002 Mississippi 27, Nebraska 23
2001Alabama 14, Iowa State 13
2000 Miss St. 43, Texas A&M 41
1999 Mississippi 27, Oklahoma 25
1998 Mississippi 35, Texas Tech 18
1997 LSU 27, Notre Dame 9
1996 Auburn 32, Army 29
1995 LSU 45, Michigan St 26
1994 Virginia 20, TCU 10
1993 Virginia Tech 45, Indiana 20
1992 Wake Forest 39, Oregon 35
1991 Georgia 24, Arkansas 15
1990 Louisiana Tech 34, Maryland 34
1989 Oregon 27, Tulsa 24
1988 Southern Miss 38, UTEP 18
1987 Washington 24, Tulane 12
1986 Mississippi 20, Texas Tech 17
1985 Minnesota 20, Clemson 13
1984 Air Force 23, Virginia Tech 7
1983 Air Force 9, Mississippi 3
1982 Wisconsin 14, Kansas State 3
1981 Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma St 16
1980 Southern Miss 16, McNeese State 14
1979 Syracuse 31, McNeese State 14
1978 East Carolina 35, Louisiana Tech 13
1977 Louisiana Tech 24, Louisville 14
1976 McNeese State 20, Tulsa 16