Toledo Rockets vs. Air Force Falcons: 5 Things We Learned from the Military Bowl
The Military Bowl has concluded, and Toledo has won the game by a score of 42-41, thus becoming your 2011 Military Bowl champions.
This game was great from start to finish, and the teams put on a show in the nation's capital for all of the veterans of past and present conflicts, as Toledo and Air Force combined for 83 points, Air Force out-gained Toledo 407-339 in total offense.
WR Bernard Reedy was the game's Most Valuable Player, as he led his team to the championship trophy, posting 126 yards on just four catches. Toledo went up 21-7 and never looked back, and made their point as to why they belonged to be in D.C.
After a wild finish, it was the Toledo Rockets that won the hearts of everyone in the frigid RFK Stadium atmosphere.
Here are five things we learned in the nation's capital tonight.
Stephen Urbaniak is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
1. Toledo's Offense Is for Real
In this game, the Rockets offense rocketed through their conference campaign, averaging almost 50 points per game. The Rockets offense is led by WR Eric Page, who has caught 112 passes for 1,123 receiving yards.
The running game was carried this season by senior RB Adonis Thomas, who helped his team rank 14th in Division I in total rushing yards, and his average of 6.46 yards a carry were more than any of the Heisman Trophy candidates.
Toledo has speed across all the core positions of the offense. Terrance Owens, Bernard Reedy, Adonis Thomas and Eric Page. All of those guys can make a difference from anywhere on the field.
Owens went 19-of-24, good for 210 passing yards and three touchdowns and made plays when it counted, and he was patient in the pocket and took advantage of every opportunity he was presented.
2. Bernard Reedy Could Be the Best WR in the Country
After an MVP performance in last night's game, Bernard Reedy has the speed and the quickness to beat defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Reedy had four catches for 126 yards for three touchdowns. He almost single-handedly won the game for the Rockets, as he was consistently open and waiting for Terrance Owens to see him down the field.
Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon was considered the best wide receiver in the country this past season, but Reedy may just take that title for the coming year.
As a sophomore, he has plenty of time to perfect his game and iron out the few problem areas in his game.
3. Who Ever Said a Service Academy Couldn't Play?
Air Force often sits in the shadows of the academies in West Point and Annapolis. They often seem like they are the little brother in the competition as to who has the best team.
Air Force has won the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy for two straight years to signify their victories against both Army and Navy.
The Falcons started slowly on offense in the first half, only to bleed points to where the score was tied through halftime. The defense couldn't get a stop, and that's what was one of the many key differences
Coach Calhoun said, "Our offense works best when we can make 4, 5, 6 yards a play, and obviously we weren't able to do that tonight."
Air Force still matched Toledo big play for big play, and their costly mistake came in the waning minutes of the game, as instead of going for the game-tying extra point after their last score, Calhoun gambled and tried to ram the football into the end zone to win in regulation.
Calhoun said on the two-point attempt, "I thought we would have a chance at it, but tonight it didn't work out." He also said further, "I thought that going for 2 points would've iced the game and wouldn't have had to fast forward to overtime."
4. The Game Was All Offense, Shows How Good College Offenses Are Becoming
This game was a matchup of two teams in so-called "non-BCS conferences." The BCS would almost never choose either of these two schools, and so they are relegated to play in lower-tier bowls.
These two offenses ranked in the top echelon of the country in total offense, and tonight they did not disappoint. They combined for 83 points, over 700 yards of offense and many highlights.
These teams matched each other score for score and the tide turned when the Air Force went for a two-point conversion, but missed it after the football was fumbled out of bounds.
This game showed the offensive prowess of both teams as defenses were not seen very much as both offenses marched up and down the field almost at will.
5. This Game Was a Treat for All Veterans, Past and Present
This game was specifically aimed not only at college football fans, but military veterans of past and present conflicts, and their families as well.
The USO has been an instrumental organization in ensuring that all military personnel have a taste of home away from home since World War II.
This game was a tribute to those who have given all and then some, and those who paid the ultimate price. Both teams played in the heart of the nation's capital, and regardless of the outcome, it was a spectacle like no other.
The Military Bowl has a lot of potential to be a mainstay in this city for years to come. As Coach Calhoun said, "This has been a fantastic six days of being here in D.C., and this is a first-rate bowl."