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2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Recap

Ohio Bobcats vs Utah State Aggies - Ohio 24, Utah State 23

The Ohio Bobcats knew the sting of losing a nationally televised game in which a championship was waiting to be won. One of the Mid-American Conference’s overachieving clubs in the past half decade has covered itself in glory in the regular season, only to falter precisely when it stood on the cusp of acquiring substantial riches in the world of college football. However, on a heaven-kissed afternoon in Boise, Idaho, that negative narrative was wiped away.

Yes, Ohio football finally closed the sale in a moment of supreme significance. The way a school’s program was perceived heading into Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is not the way the Bobcats are viewed in the present tense. Things are difference for the Ohio outfit after a stirring one-point win over the heartbroken Utah State Aggies in a pulse-pounder at Bronco Stadium on the campus of Boise State University.

When quarterback Tyler Tettleton scrambled into the end zone – just inside the right pylon – with 13 seconds left in regulation and kicker Matt Weller added the extra point, Ohio completed a comeback from a 23-10 deficit to claim the first bowl win in the program’s 49-season history. Waiting virtually half a century to haul in a piece of postseason hardware represents an overly long walk through the college football wilderness, but now that a precious pigskin prize rests safely within the Bobcats’ grasp, they know that they’ll never forget what they did on the blue smurf turf of the American West, far from their home in the Buckeye State. The recent experience of a loss in the MAC Championship Game to Northern Illinois – in which the Bobcats blew a 20-0 lead – could have sent Ohio into a funk when this Boise battle began. Instead, Ohio turned this tilt into an occasion for rehabilitating its football image and rejoicing when this comeback conquest finally ended.

If this game had been likened to a heavyweight bout, the Bobcats probably would have lost on points over the course of 15 rounds. Utah State gashed Ohio for 345 rushing yards, with running back Michael Smith bolting for 157 yards on just 12 carries and teammate Robert Turbin galloping for 101 yards on 20 carries, USU established physical superiority for most of the day. The Aggies, who wound up playing 10 games that ended with a one-score margin in 2011 (they won five and lost five), twice drove into Ohio territory with a 23-17 lead in the game’s final 20 minutes, needing just one more big gainer to put the Bobcats away. For almost all of the afternoon, it was Utah State which carried the play, especially the lion’s share of leverage in the trenches. Just an extra field goal here or another third-down conversion there would have given USU, the second-place team in the Western Athletic Conference, a scoreboard nudge and a 26-17 lead that would have forced Ohio’s inconsistent offense to produce multiple scores in the fourth quarter. However, that extra score never emerged, and the Aggies never landed a knockout punch, thereby enabling Ohio to stay in the fight until the end. Given one last chance to pull out an improbable victory, Tettleton masterfully led his teammates downfield before striking paydirt himself with just 13 ticks left on the clock.

A program’s reputation changed forever. Its bowl history did, too. Not a bad way to erase the memories of the MAC title game loss to Northern Illinois in just a 15-day span, eh?

By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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