Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC) tied for second place in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference with Ball State. The Rockets won eight straight games at one point in the season, including a 29-23 victory over then No. 18 Cincinnati. UT was ranked as high as No. 23 in the AP poll this season, and cracked the BCS Top 25 for the first time in school history (No. 25 on Nov. 4). Toledo's three losses were all to schools playing in bowl games: Northern Illinois (11-1), Ball State (9-3) and Arizona (7-5).
The Rockets most recently played in the 2011 Military Bowl in Washington D.C., as it defeated Air Force, 42-41.
“We are excited to prepare for a quality Toledo team that had an outstanding season,” said fourth year Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. “Our staff has great respect for Toledo head coach Matt Campbell and the Rockets team. They are very well coached and obviously very talented as they are playing in their third-straight bowl game.”
Utah State (10-2, 6-0 WAC) just completed its most successful regular season in school history as it set single-season records for wins (10) and home wins (6), while recording its first outright league championship since 1936 and its 11th in school history as it became the first team in USU history to post a 6-0 conference record.
Utah State’s two losses in 2012 were by two points (16-14) at Big Ten Champion Wisconsin (8-5) who will play in this year’s Rose Bowl, and by three points (6-3) at BYU (7-5) who will play in the 2012 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Utah State, who officially joins the Mountain West Conference on July 1, 2013, concluded WAC play with an 11-game winning streak. Overall, USU has won each of its last six games to rank tied for the fifth-longest winning streak in school history and tied for the seventh-longest active winning streak in the nation. In all, Utah State has now won 15 of its last 18 games to rank as the best 18-game stretch in school history since the 1962-64 teams also won 15 of 18 games.
Nationally, Utah State is one of just 22 teams with 10 or more wins on the season and USU is one of just four teams across the country who did not lose a league game joining Ohio State (8-0) from the Big Ten and Kent State (8-0) and Northern Illinois (8-0) from the Mid-American Conference.
Utah State, who is ranked 18th in the nation in this week's Associated Press top 25, 20th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings, will enter the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with one of the best defenses at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level as it currently ranks eighth in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 ppg), eighth nationally in sacks (3.25 pg), 12th in the country in rushing defense (111.4 ypg), 15th in the nation in total defense (322.7 ypg), 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (107.0), and 35th in the nation in passing defense (211.2 ypg).
Utah State's defense has also played exceptionally well in the first-half this year as it is out-scoring its opponents 131-6 in the first quarter and has a 244-54 scoring advantage in the first-half this season as it has scored first and led at the half in all but one game this year. Overall, USU is the only team in the nation who has not allowed a first quarter touchdown on the season.
Utah State is 7-2 overall against the Mid-American Conference teams, which includes a 24-23 loss to Ohio in the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
For Utah State, it is the second time in as many years and third time in school history it will be playing a bowl game in Boise, Idaho as USU also played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2011, while competing in the inaugural Humanitarian Bowl in 1997.
Overall, it is the third time in school history that Utah State has played in back-to-back bowl games joining the 1946 Raisin Bowl and 1947 Grape Bowl teams, and the 1960 Sun Bowl and 1961 Gotham Bowl teams.
All time, this will be Utah State's eighth bowl appearance in the program's history as it played in the 1946 Raisin Bowl, the 1947 Grape Bowl, the 1960 Sun Bowl, the 1961 Gotham Bowl, the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl and the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Utah State’s one bowl win in school history was at the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl when it defeated Ball State, 42-33.