Day 3 is of bowl season kicks off with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, featuring the 7-5 Akron Zips and the 6-6 Utah State Aggies. The Zips have plenty of reason to be hyped about this game. This is their second ever bowl game, and if they win it will be their first ever bowl victory. Furthermore, a win would give them 8 on the season, which would be their first ever 8 win season since they moved to the FBS in 1987. To win they will have to get more from their offense than they have all season, especially against this Aggies defense. The Zips are ranked 97th in total offense, averaging just 363 yards per game (YPG) and only 24 points per game (24). Their defense on the other hand, gives this team a great chance to win. They rank 17th in the FBS in total defense, giving up just 329 YPG. They’re particularly goo against the run, in fact, they’re 3rd in the country against the run (89.8 RYG). The Zips defensive success can be put down to the talent they have on that side of the ball, mainly Jatavis Brown. He is CBS’s 24th outside linebacker (OLB) and is the focal point of this defense. He has 108 tackles and leads the team with 17.5 tackles for loss (TFL) and 10.5 sacks. His production comes thanks to his athleticism. He has very impressive speed and acceleration allowing him to burst forward and close a gap in an instant. Once he is there, he can lay the wood. However, his lack of length (he’s just 5’11”) means he struggles to shed from blockers. He may be best suited to be a safety in the pro’s. Cody Grice (DL) and Darryl Monroe (LB) are definitely worth watching, too. Utah State also have plenty of reason to be amped up for this game. This game stands as the Aggies 5th consecutive bowl game and a win will give them their 5th consecutive winning season, which would be their first such streak since 1971-75. They are also in a pretty exclusive group: they’re just 1 of 4 FBS programs with at least 30 wins and 3 bowl victories in the past three years. That puts them in the same category as Clemson, Michigan State and Oregon. Like the Zips, the Aggies have struggled on offense. They are 91st in total offense (371 YPG) and only manage 29.7 PPG (61st). But, also like the Zips, they are far better on defense. They rank just 4 spots lower than the Zips in total defense, allowing 337 YPG. Though, unlike the Zips, they excel against the pass, ranking 14th in the country (180.4 PYG). Looking to follow in Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner is the Aggies defensive linchpin, Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell seems set to do just that. He is suited excellently to be a force at strongside linebacker. He has the size (6’5”, 250lbs), power and agility to be a 3-down backer at the next level, but his measurables aren’t the only impressive thing about him. In every year that he has been healthy – he missed 2014 with a torn ACL – he has been an All-Mountain West Conference player. Furthermore, he always seems to be around the ball, he leads the nation with 5 fumble recoveries and has 2 forced fumbles of his own. Wide receivers Hunter Sharp and Brandon Swindall and quarterback Chuckle Keeton are also worth keeping an eye on. If you want to watch this game, or any of the other bowl games, the complete bowl schedule can be found here, where you’ll be able to see how and when you can watch every game.
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