It might not be where they expected to play, but the Toledo players are happy to be a part of the 2011 Military Bowl.
After rumors had Toledo headed to the Little Caesar's Bowl or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the Rockets ended up accepting an invite to the Military Bowl to play Air Force. The game will be December 28 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.
"I really didn't know what to expect, if we were going to play a big school or a BCS conference school or Sun Belt-I didn't really know what to expect," senior running back Adonis Thomas said. "Then I realized it was the Military Bowl and they have ties with the military. So, it seems fitting for the Bowl and it's just a different team, but it's going to be fun."
The Military Bowl will be special for Thomas, who grew up only two hours from Washington D.C. in Newark, New Jersey.
"It's a home game for me because I'm only two hours away," Thomas said. "I was injured, so I couldn't play in the Temple game, which is three hours away. So my mother and my uncles and everybody, they get to come see my final collegiate game close to home."
While the timing of the game may mean that the players will have to be away from their families over the holidays, the Rockets are just happy to be headed to the 12th bowl game in school history.
"Anything you can do to get that extra game and play some more football is just the best feeling," junior linebacker Dan Molls said. "Playing over the holiday break when everyone else is at home is great. It's just great that we can be together one more time as a team and as a family."
The game itself should be very entertaining with both teams featuring high powered offenses. Toledo averages 42.2 points per game while Air Force rushed for 320.3 rushing yards per game in 2011.
"Bowl season is all about offense," Thomas said. "Nobody really wants to go to a bowl game and see a 3-6 or 6-12 game. It's cool to watch two different teams from two different sides go at it and you don't really know what to expect."
While the players said they didn't know too much about Air Force, Thomas has an early scouting report on the Air Force defense.
"I love college football, so you can probably ask me about any team in the country and I could tell you what defense they run," Thomas said. "Their defense is undersized but they play really hard and really aggressive. They run a 3-4 defense and they really get after you. They really don't take plays off and they've got a lot of people out there giving relentless effort."
On the defensive side of the ball, Toledo will have to have a good effort against Air Force's triple-option attack.
"We're definitely going to have to have our eyes right," senior defensive back Desmond Marrow said. "You've got to read your keys. Every man has to do his job because one mishap, one wrong read could lead to a touchdown on any play."
This will mark the second straight bowl game for the Rockets, who lost 34-32 to Florida International in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl last year.
"It means we're headed in the right direction and we're doing things right," Marrow said. "Coach Beckman came in with a plan and it just shows that his plan is working. It's just another season capped off by an eight win season and we're back in a bowl situation. We just want to come out victorious this time."