Idaho Potato Bowl – Akron Zips (+7.5) versus Utah State Aggies

Posted: December 22, 2015 in College football, Football
Tags: , , ,

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This is the first all-time meeting between these schools. Akron is bowling for just the second time ever and they lost their initial appearance, 38-31 (+4) to Memphis in the 2005 Motor City Bowl. Head coach Terry Bowden coached in three bowls while at Auburn, going 2-1 SU/0-3 ATS. This is Utah State’s fifth straight bowl and their third appearance in the Idaho Potato Bowl. In their previous two post season trips here in 2011 and 2012, they went 1-1 SU/ATS & head coach Matt Wells is 2-0 SU/ATS in bowl games.

Utah State entered the season a contender for the Mountain West crown as they returned 15 starters from a 10 win season. 2012 first team WAC quarterback Chuckie Keeton returned, but was again injured versus Washington, but has started the last two games. Kent Myers did well again filling in for him, as they won 3 straight, but have lost four of their last six despite being a favorite in all but one. The Aggies still finished in a four way tie for second in the MW Mountain Division. They held four opponents to either their lowest or second lowest yards on the season and finished with 26 sacks (8.4%).

Akron entered this season with high expectations despite returning just 12 starters. After expected losses to Oklahoma and Pittsburgh to open the season, they then won three of their next four. The Zips were blown out by eventual MAC champ Bowling Green and lost a close gm to Central Michigan, but then won their last four games. Their calling card entering the season was their defense and it lived up to the billing as they held three of their foes to their season low in yards and finished No. 17 in the FBS, holding their foes to 75 yards per game below their average. Over their last four games, Akron averaged 401 yards per game, including 203 (4.5) rushing yards per game, while allowing just 293 yards per game, including 74 (2.7) rushing yards per game in that same span.

Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson came on as the season progressed and led the offense in their four game winning streak to close the season. The Zips haven’t been to a bowl game in 10 years and are excited to be here. Utah State will have the crowd edge as their campus naturally is much closer to Bronco Stadium (258 miles away, Akron 1769). Aggie quarterback Keeeton didn’t play up to his potential in the regular season when he returned from injury, but with extra rest he should be back to his normal All-Conference ways in this game. Utah State needs a win to avoid a losing season, so they will be putting forth a maximum type of effort. In his first two bowl games that Wells coached the total points scored was 35 and 27 points, so look for a low scoring, physical game.

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