Toledo Rockets staying focused ahead of Famous Idaho Potato Bowl meeting with Utah State

12/11/2012
BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOISE — This season will end the way it began, with the University of Toledo football team boarding a plane and traveling west.

On Monday evening, more than three months after they suffered an overtime loss in the season opener at Arizona, the Rockets took off for Boise from Toledo Express Airport.

Toledo, which punctuated a 9-3 regular season with an eight-game win streak and an appearance in the top 25, will participate in the postseason for a third consecutive year when it takes on No. 18 Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. A week packed with social functions awaits the teams, who will ring in the bowl season at 4:30 p.m. Saturday from Bronco Stadium.

“You’re going out there for a reason, not to just enjoy everything they have for you,” running back David Fluellen said. “You have to focus on the task at hand and that’s playing Utah State.”

Fluellen’s health will be a major storyline. The first team All-Mid-American Conference performer did not participate in the final regular season game against Akron after suffering a high ankle sprain the week before at Northern Illinois. Fluellen said last week he will play, though coach Matt Campbell seemed less confident. Quarterback Terrance Owens also is nursing an ankle injury that has bothered him since the second week of the season and kept him out of the Akron game.

More on their availabilities should be known today after the team conducts its first of four practices this week at Boise State’s indoor facility.

Activities scheduled for the teams include bowling (today), snow tubing or go-kart racing (Wednesday), dinner (Thursday), and a street party (Friday). Players will visit a local hospital Friday.

“During the season it’s a business trip, and this is an accomplishment for everything you did,” Fluellen said. “They have a lot of things there for you to do.

“We’ve been to bowl games before, so we won’t have any problems adjusting to what we need to do.”

Utah State, which will be making a return trip to this game after losing to Ohio in 2011, is a 7.5-point favorite. The line opened at 10.

As is the case with all bowl games, players will be showered with gifts. According to Sports Business Journal, the Rockets’ and the Aggies’ players can each expect to receive a North End black winter coat, Kombi winter gloves, a white Tiger Woods Victory Nike beanie, an Ogio Bullion backpack, and a Big Game football.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.