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Posted: Monday December 26, 2011 5:54PM ; Updated: Tuesday December 27, 2011 12:19PM

Bowl Breakdown: Military

Story Highlights

Two high-powered but starkly contrasting offenses will be on display

Toledo can score on the ground and stretch the field through the air

Air Force's ability to stop the deep ball will determine the outcome

By Matt Dollinger, SI.com

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Toledo's Eric Page caught 112 passes for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Toledo's Eric Page caught 112 passes for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Chris Szagola/Cal Sport Media

Air Force (7-5) vs. Toledo (8-4)
Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

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Reason to watch: Two of the country's best offenses will meet in the Military Bowl, but they couldn't contrast any more starkly. Air Force employs college football's version of a knuckleball pitcher: a triple-option attack that churns out a staggering 320.2 rushing yards per game, the second most in the nation. Meanwhile, Toledo utilizes an explosive spread offense that put up 42.2 points per game (eighth in the FBS) and can score from anywhere on the field. To make matters more interesting, the polar opposite offenses should be showcased in this game, as both schools offer little resistance defensively. Toledo allowed more than 30 points per game and Air Force gave up an average of 39.4 in its five losses this season.

Keep an eye on: Air Force's defense. It's fitting that the Falcons dominate activity above the ground, ranking sixth nationally in pass defense. But how will they stand up against the Rockets' high-octane offense? Air Force gave up just two passing touchdowns over its last five games, but hasn't had to face an offense as good as Toledo's since October. The man behind that offense is former coordinator Matt Campbell, who took over for Tim Beckham earlier this month after Beckham bolted for Illinois. Toledo might have made a wise decision in tabbing the 32 year old, who coordinated a unit that averaged almost 500 yards per game and scored an FBS-best 53.8 average points since the start of November. But Campbell and Co. will face their toughest test of the season against the Falcons' pass defense. Whichever team wins the battle in the air will likely also control the outcome.

Did you know: Toledo's offense is not only powerful -- it's precise. The Rockets committed just 12 turnovers all season and ranked third in the FBS in turnover margin.

ANDERSON: Brush up on your Military Bowl facts

Final analysis: Everything the Rockets touch on offense turns to gold, which makes them hard to pick against. Toledo's ground tandem of Adonis Thomas and Morgan Williams rushed for 1,604 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. And led by wide receiver Eric Page (112 catches, 1,123 yards, 10 TDs), the Rockets make teams worry about the deep ball on every play. When starting quarterback Andy Dantin suffered a concussion three games ago, sophomore Terrance Owens stepped in and completed 80.2 percent of his passes for 860 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception over that span. After starting 1-3 this year, Toledo has won seven of its last eight, giving it substantial momentum going into this game.

The pick: Toledo 45, Air Force 38

 
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