The 2012 Famous Idaho Bowl will feature the No. 22 Utah State Aggies against the Toledo Rockets in what will be a game dominated by the Aggies' superior defense.
Utah St. was great on the defensive end this season.
The Aggies finished the 2012 campaign with the No. 8 defense in the nation as the staple of their success. Granted, Utah St. doesn't play a tough schedule by any means, but many of its past opponents this season were equal to, if not better than, the Rockets.
In Week 3, the Aggies were able to hold the Wisconsin Badgers in check, surrendering just 16 points to the Big Ten champions. While it didn't look like an impressive feat at the time, the Badgers ended up winning their season finale against the then No. 12 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 70-31.
That Badgers victory made the Aggies' low-scoring, losing effort at the beginning of the season look much more impressive when put into perspective. Utah St.'s two losses this season were by a combined total of six points, and both weren't barn-burners by any stretch.
Toledo comes into this game with a huge uncertainty at the quarterback position.
The normal starter, Terrance Owens, is bothered by an ankle injury abut is expected to play (via Yahoo! Sports).
Dantin hasn't proved to be a great quarterback during his time with Toledo. Besides a huge game against a lowly Akron Zips squad, Dantin's completion percentage had not reached above 50 percent in the other two games he participated in this year.
That number doesn't figure to get any better with the Aggies' ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Utah St. currently ranks No. 8 in the country with 39 sacks. With that type of pressure, Dantin won't have anywhere near the same amount of time he had to throw the ball last week, which will take away some of his effectiveness in the pocket.
Even if Owens gets the start, his injured ankle will make him a bigger target for the Aggies pass rush, helping Utah St. to have an easier time getting to the normally speedy signal-caller.
Turnovers will also be a major problem for Toledo, no matter who is at quarterback. Owens looked great for the Rockets at the start of the season, keeping his interceptions limited. However, in his last six games of 2012, Owens threw all eight of his total interceptions.
That will play right into the hands of the Aggies, which finished in the top 50 in the country with 12 interceptions on the season. Even with Dantin behind center, the Aggies should be able to force the erratic quarterback to make a huge mistake that leads to an interception or two.
Toledo's rushing attack will no doubt be the biggest concern for Utah St. in this game. The Rockets' running back, David Fluellen, was sensational this season, racking up more than 1,400 yards.
Fluellen will be returning after missing last week's game with an ankle injury, so there's a good chance he won't be entirely healthy for this game. If that's the case, Fluellen might lose a step and not have his same explosiveness.
Adding to that, the Aggies should have no problem shutting down the Rockets' passing attack, making Toledo a one-dimensional offense and far more predictable to stop.
It remains to be seen if either of these teams can handle the pressure of a big game, but the best recipe for success in a pressure-packed game like this one is great defense.
The Aggies have the advantage over the Rockets in that category.