The Toledo Rockets (9-4, 6-2 MAC) took on the WAC champion Utah State Aggies (11-2, 6-0 WAC) in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho Saturday, losing 41-15.
It was supposed to be an offensive showcase between two evenly matched teams. However, what occurred for the first three quarters was more like a defensive tug-o-war.
In the end, offense finally ignited. It was the Aggies' 28 fourth-quarter points that blew the game wide open and brought the Rockets back to earth.
The catalyst was Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams, but he wasn't alone.
With that in mind, let's look at all of the game's performers and grade how they did and what it meant to the game.
Utah State Quarterback Chuckie Keeton Grade: A
Keeton played quite a game in Idaho. On the day, he threw 31 passes and completed 21 of those with 229 yards. He also ran the ball nine times for 92 yards and a touchdown.
He made plays when he had to, and led his team well. He would have been the player of the game had it not been for the outstanding performance of his teammate, Kerwynn Williams.
Toledo Quarterbacks Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin Grades: D, D+
Terrance Owens struggled all game long. He completed just six of 17 passes for 30 yards and no touchdowns. He ran twice for 14 yards as well, but he was ineffective all game long.
Austin Dantin had a little better game than Owens. He threw 21 times for 12 completions for 132 yards. However, he also threw two interceptions.
Overall, this game belonged to Keeton and his teammates. They stifled the Toledo quarterbacks and put them in difficult situations all game long.
Toledo Running Back David Fluellen Grade: Incomplete
David Fluellen could have helped the Rockets a great deal, but he was injured during the game. On the year, Fluellen rushed for over 1,400 yards, but in the Idaho Potato Bowl he left the game with just 38 yards on seven carries before injuring what looked like his knee.
Utah State Running Back Kerwynn Williams Grade: A+
Kerwynn Williams painted the blue turf of Bronco Stadium with his own shade of excellence. He was stifled for much of the game, but in the fourth quarter he erupted.
Mount Kerwynn Williams blew up like a volcano and ended the game with 18 carries for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 34 additional yards.
Williams was the difference, and his three scores blew the game wide open.
Toledo Rockets Wide Receiver Bernard Reedy Grade: B+
Bernard Reedy did a lot for his team. On the day, Reedy caught six passes for 62 yards. He also was utilized running the ball. He carried 10 times for 50 yards. Not only that, but he had 192 return yards, which included an 87-yard touchdown.
The Rockets had several dropped passes on the day, but Reedy was a bright spot on the field.
Utah State Wide Receiver Matt Austin Grade: B-
Senior Matt Austin finished his career right. On the day, he caught six passes for 77 yards. His longest was a big 34-yard gain.
Overall, the Aggies had seven players catch at least one ball. Chuck Jacobs caught five passes for 58 yards, and Travis Reynolds caught two passes for 27 yards of his own.
Toledo Tight End Cordale Scott Grade: C
The tight ends didn't make much noise in the Potato Bowl. However, both teams did get some help from their big guys catching passes.
Scott caught two passes for 12 yards during the game.
Utah State Tight End Kellen Bartlett Grade: C
Bartlett did what he had to do, but he only caught one pass for 11 yards. Again, neither team utilized their tight ends much.
Utah State Offensive Line Grade: A
The Aggies line controlled the line of scrimmage, especially in the second half. They also didn't allow Toledo to disrupt their quarterback much all game.
It was the fourth quarter that really made the grade. In that quarter, the line of the Aggies was pushing Toledo around and opening serious lanes for their talented running back Williams.
On the day, the Aggies rushed for 353 big yards, and much of that can be contributed to the success of the big fellows up front.
Toledo Offensive Line Grade: C
The Rockets only managed 142 yards rushing. That is far less than the 197.5 yards per game average that Toledo had during the regular season.
Utah State Defensive Line Grade: A-
The Aggies controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The defensive line was able to shut down the Rockets rushing attack, and they frustrated both of Toledo's quarterbacks all game long.
It was truly an impressive performance by Utah State.
Toledo Defensive Line Grade: C-
The Rockets defense started out well, but the second half was their undoing. The fourth quarter saw a collapse of the Toledo defense, and Kerwynn Williams and the rest of the Aggies offense ran wild.
Toledo Linebackers Grade: C
This game would have looked much different if the best linebacker and arguably the best defensive player on the Rockets team didn't leave the game with a head injury.
Senior linebacker Dan Molls left the game after getting hurt on the opening kickoff. Molls is expected to go in the NFL draft, and he could have helped his team in the Potato Bowl. However, in his absence, Toledo linebackers struggled.
Utah State Linebackers Grade: A
Not only did the linebackers for Utah State play lights out, they even accounted for one of the two interceptions on the day when freshman Kyler Fackrell grabbed a Toledo pass and made it his own.
Toledo Secondary Grade: B
The Rockets did a fine job containing the passing attack of the Aggies. In fact, it was the solid play of the secondary for Toledo that kept this game close. Until the fourth quarter, that is.
Utah State Secondary Grade: A
Utah State held Toledo to just 173 yards passing and shut down the passing attack most of the game. Sophomore safety Brian Suite did his job, and in fact, he even had an interception in the game.
The Aggies secondary looked impressive, and they are a big reason the Aggies won this game.
Toledo Special Teams Grade: B+
Special teams did a good job for Toledo. However, it is the explosive run of Bernard Reedy that gives the Rockets such a good grade.
Reedy took a kickoff 87 yards for paydirt. On the day, Reedy had a total of 192 return yards in the game.
Utah State Special Teams Grade: C
The only reason the Aggies struggled on special teams is because they couldn't contain Bernard Reedy.
Utah State Coaching Grade: A+
The head coach for the Utah Aggies is a class act. In the postgame press conference, he had nothing but praise for his players, his school, his boosters, the bowl game and the competition.
However, it was his coaching technique this season and during the bowl game that gives him an A. Anderson not only chose to stay at Utah State as head coach when he probably could go elsewhere, but he led his team to an impressive 11-2 record and a Top 25 ranking.
Toledo Coaching Grade: A
Another head coach, another class act. Even in defeat, head coach for Toledo Matt Campbell had nothing but praise for his players and the team they faced in Boise.
Losing two of your best players in a bowl game has to be challenging, and yet Toledo hung around until a fourth-quarter Utah State explosion.
Campbell kept his team in the game, and with a 9-4 overall record this season, you can expect more good things from the Toledo program.