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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Preview and Prediction: Akron vs. Utah State

Chuckie Keeton

Chuckie Keeton

Akron has taken a major step forward in building a contender out of a program that was once a firmly entrenched cellar dweller. Now the Zips get to face a team in Utah State that successfully traveled this path before them.

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The two teams meet for the first time in the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. If Akron is looking for a template for program building, the Aggies offer a perfect role model.

Utah State entered the 2015 season as one of just four FBS programs to win at least 30 games and record three bowl victories in the past three years, joining Clemson, Michigan State and Oregon. The Aggies are playing in a school record fifth consecutive bowl game after finishing tied for second in the Mountain West Mountain Division. Utah State has a shot at notching a fifth straight winning season for the first time since finishing above .500 from 1971-75.

Akron is playing in just its second bowl game in program history after finishing second in the MAC East and winning seven games for the first time since 2005. If the Zips win, it would give them an eight-win season for the first time since moving up to FBS in 1987 and also give the team its first-ever bowl victory.

Akron vs. Utah State (Boise)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Tuesday, Dec. 22)

TV: ESPN

Spread: Utah State -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Sharp vs. Scott

One of the fun individual battles in this game will be contested between Utah State wide receiver Hunter Sharp and Akron cornerback DeAndre Scott. Sharp is arguably the most dynamic playmaker on offense for the Aggies. He led Utah State with 746 yards and eight touchdowns on 60 receptions during the regular season. Sharp tallied two 100-yard receiving games against Air Force (193 yards) and BYU (100 yards). Scott has the ability to keep the Utah State senior in check. He ranks fifth among FBS players in total interceptions (6) and ninth in interceptions per game (0.5). Scott has helped Akron produce 12 takeaways in its last four games.