In the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, the matchup between the Toledo Rockets and Air Force Falcons will truly be a battle of air and ground.
Air Force and its triple option offense will look run the ball down the Rockets’ throats with its second-ranked rushing attack. Toledo will field a balanced offense as opposed to the one-dimensional Falcons. Matt Campbell’s unit will look to continue putting up big numbers, as they averaged 42.0 points a game throughout the regular season, good for eighth in the nation.
Where: RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m. EST
Betting Line: Toledo -3, according to ESPN.com.
Who Might Not Play
According to Fox Sports, Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin, who started 10 games and missed the final two with a concussion, is expected to return for the Rockets.
Also on Toledo, tight end Danny Noble also may or may not make a comeback after breaking his leg in October.
What They’re Saying
Air Force quarterback Tim Jennings sounds like he’d love to abandon the running game and air it out for once vs. Toledo, telling ESPN: “The first thing that pops out to me is that they can put up a lot of points. If it turns into a shootout, then, hey, this is going to be a fun ball game to play in.”
That offense is run by Campbell who will take over for Tim Beckman at head coach who left for Illinois. Toledo’s athletic director had nothing but praise for the former OC, saying:
“We are very pleased that Matt Campbell has agreed to become the head football coach at the University of Toledo. There is no doubt that Matt has done a terrific job in his three years as our offensive coordinator. The performance of our offense speaks for itself.”
Toledo Player to Watch
Eric Page is the Rockets passing game. The 5’10”, 185-pound junior wide out caught 112 balls for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Toledo’s second leading receiver only has 36 receptions.
Air Force Player to Watch
If the Falcons pull the upset, it’ll be on the back of Asher Clark. The senior running back has compiled 1,096 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this year on an impressive 7.3 yards a pop. He literally is Air Force’s only hope as no other offensive weapon has even gained 600 yards in 2011.
Zack Kauth vs. Desmond Marrow
Kauth is the Falcons leading receiver and most dangerous big-play threat. The wide out may only have 27 receptions this year, but the 6’4”, 210-pound Kauth averaged 20.1 yards a catch.
Morrow is a team captain for the Rockets and arguably their best defensive player. The 6’3”, 210-pound senior cornerback leads Toledo in tackles, interceptions and passes deflected.
On the Hotseat
His job may not be in danger, but if Toledo were to lose under Campbell in his first game at head coach, it would be a huge letdown. The Rockets don’t want to be in this game. The team believes they deserve better.
Not to think of Air Force as an inferior opponent, but a hotseat could be created with a loss to the Falcons.
Despite the layoff, points will be put up in this game. Toledo and Air Force each boast top 25 offenses while neither defense is ranked in the top 50.
Again, the Rockets feel disrespected to be in the Military Bowl and they’ll take their frustration out on the Falcons. With Dantin likely to return, Toledo’s offense will be even more powerful than the one that averaged over 44 points the last two games of the season. They averaged 63 in Dantin’s last two games.
The lower the score and the slower the game, the more likely Air Force will be able to come away with a "W". Against hungry Toledo, though, the Falcons won’t be able to keep up with the Rockets’ explosive offensive attack.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer. Follow him on Twitter.