A look at the numbers (and mascots) that mattered in Ohio's last-second 24-23 win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
1: Bowl wins in Ohio's history. Frank Solich took over the Bobcats' program in 2005 and has led them to their most sustained level of success. They had won nine games in a season just once before Solich, and they have done so three times in the last six years. But they couldn't break through in the postseason. They were 0-6 in bowls and MAC championships under Solich, a run that included four double-digit losses and a blown 20-point lead in this year's MAC title game. But they overcame a slow start and a 23-10 deficit to pull in their first bowl trophy. All you really want as a minor bowl is an exciting finish and an ecstatic winning team. I would say that Idaho's potato commission got what they paid for this year. And yes, that was a fun sentence to write.
11.3: Utah State's starting field position in over their final three drives (not including the one-play lateral-fest that ended the game). Typically when a team blows a double-digit lead, it's because they clammed up or went into an offensive shell. That really was not the case for Utah State. They simply faced too much blue field ahead of them. They gained 38 yards on the first of those three drives, then 48 on the next. The problem was that they had been pinned at their 15 following an Ohio kickoff, then their 12 after a punt, and then their seven after another punt. (Kudos to Ohio punter Paul Hershey, by the way, for averaging 50 yards over six punts and landing three inside the USU 20; not a bad game for someone who didn't want to be kicking in Idaho in December.) The Aggies outgained the Bobcats by 96 yards, were much more successful on third downs (9-for-17 versus 5-for-14), and produced more tackles for loss; but Ohio won the field position battle, and in the end, it made the difference.
35: Bowls on the 2011-12 docket. Some of them will be completely and totally uninteresting (like, for instance, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl for non-Temple fans). But the more bowls you have, the more great finishes you'll have. We got two in three games yesterday. Are there too many bowls? Probably. Did I care yesterday? Hell no. Did I love both the finish and the "Mr. Hankey" looking mascot in yesterday's Idaho Potato Bowl? Hell yes. More, please.
197: Career catches for Ohio's LaVon Brazill. His final eight contained some of his biggest. Utah State contained the Ohio running game (Donte Harden, Beau Blankenship and quarterback Tyler Tettleton combined to average just 3.6 yards over 40 carries) and limited the damage from the rest of Ohio's iffy receiving corps, but they could not reel in an injured Brazill when it counted. He limped through much of the first half but caught a 44-yard touchdown in double coverage late in the third quarter, then all but scored on a fourth-and-1, 13-yarder with 45 seconds left in the game. Without Brazill, Ohio is still winless in bowls.
258: Rushing yards gained by Utah State's Michael Smith and Robert Turbin. The Aggies' run attack was as good as advertised, and it led them inside Ohio's 40 six times. But they were only able to come up with 23 points in those six trips thanks to a turnover on downs at the Ohio one-yard line and a missed 39-yard field goal. Special teams made a serious impact in both this game and the New Orleans Bowl. Make your kicks, kids!