>Florida International vs. Toledo
The Rockets return to postseason play for the first time in five years in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl against FIU, which will be making the first bowl appearance in its history.
Toledo, who had lost 16 games over the previous two seasons, improved dramatically this year under second-year coach Tim Beckman. They finished second in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, and three of their losses were to teams also playing in bowls — Boise State, Northern Illinois and Arizona.
While reaching this bowl is a great reward for Toledo, it’s a remarkable achievement for FIU, which is in just its ninth season of play at any level and sixth year in the FBS. The Golden Panthers’ six wins this season comprise one-fifth of their 30 victories all-time.
The Golden Panthers averaged 38.0 points while winning four of their final five games. Their offense is led by running backs Darriet Perry (707 yards and 14 TDs in 2010) and Darrian Mallary (669 yards, two TDs). Quarterback Wesley Carroll, completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,483 yards with 15 TDs.
Toledo lost starting quarterback Austin Dantin to a shoulder injury during an Oct. 30 victory over Eastern Michigan, but replacement Terrance Owens doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. A redshirt freshman, Owens has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. Owens will look to get the ball to sophomore wideout Eric Page, who had 94 receptions for 1,081 yards and eight TDs this season. The explosive Page also scored three touchdowns on kickoff returns.