The 2012 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl will feature the Ohio University Bobcats and the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks in the 37th installment of the Independence Bowl, set for Friday, Dec. 28, at 1 p.m.
"The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl is pleased to announce that it will host Ohio University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe in the 2012 game,” 2012 chairman Jack Andres said. “These are two dynamic football teams that will be a great addition to the long list of great teams that have played in the Independence Bowl. ULM will be playing in its first bowl game in program history after a Cinderella season, and will be matched up against a talented Ohio team that features one of the best running backs in the country."
Both teams had impressive seasons, as the Bobcats and Warhawks gained national attention for their play.
The Warhawks, coached by Todd Berry, finished the season 8-4 and are going to their first bowl game since becoming a member of the FBS in 1994. They jumped onto the national scene after upsetting No. 8 Arkansas in Little Rock, 34-31, to open the season. They converted on fourth down on six of seven attempts, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
In the following weeks, the Warhawks lost a close overtime thriller at Auburn, 31-28, and fell in a shootout to Baylor at home, 47-42. ULM set a stadium record for attendance in the game.
“We are very excited that the hard work of the team and the staff have been noticed by the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl,” Berry said. “To have a historic season culminate in a Bowl such as the Independence Bowl and the great city of Shreveport, La., is extra special.
“This team continues to work very hard. The ULM faithful can be very proud of this team both on and off the field and can know that we will give a maximum effort towards bringing the Independence Bowl trophy home with us.”
The ULM offense, which averages 442.7 yards per game and 35.5 points per game, is led by junior quarterback Kolton Browning. Browning finished the regular season with 2,830 yards passing and 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 441 yards and seven touchdowns, despite missing almost two full games due to injury.
Junior receiver Brent Leonard emerged as Browning’s top target, hauling in 97 catches for 1,042 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The ULM defense picked off 15 passes, which ranks 22nd nationally and first in the Sun Belt Conference. They rank 31st nationally out of 120 FBS teams listed on NCAA.org in turnovers gained with 24.
“We are thrilled and honored to be selected to participate in this year’s Advocare V100 Independence Bowl,” ULM’s Director of Athletics Bobby Staub said. “We couldn’t have picked a better location for our first-ever bowl game and look forward to our students, alumni and fans converging on Shreveport the week of December 28th.”
Ohio, coached by Frank Solich, finished the season at 8-4. Like the Warhawks, the Bobcats also jumped into the national spotlight at the start of the season after going to Penn State and beating the Nittany Lions, 24-14, in Happy Valley. They began the season with a 7-0 record, which was their best start since 1968. They spent time in the AP, USA Today and BCS rankings this season.
"The Ohio University football program is extremely excited for the opportunity to play in the Independence Bowl," Solich said. "For over 25 years this has been one of the premier bowl games in the country and I couldn't be happier for our team. Louisiana-Monroe has had a very good season and we’re certain that this game will be a great matchup."
The Bobcats are led on offense by junior running back Beau Blankenship, who ranks 10th nationally in rush yards per game at 125. He finished the year with a school –record 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns on 293 carries. He also added 177 yards receiving and one touchdown to rank 25th nationally in all-purpose yards per game 139.8.
Junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton has been efficient all season, completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,513 yards and 16 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
On defense, junior linebacker Keith Moore has set the tone, as he lead the team with 89 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss and a sack. He also has two interceptions, two passes broken up and a fumble recovery.
“We are very, very excited about playing in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl,” Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus said. “I was part of an Oregon team that beat a Tulsa team in the Independence Bowl in the 80’s, and we just loved the experience. The hospitality we received was amazing. I am just so impressed with the history of the Bowl and how first class it is. We are looking forward to the matchup, and we couldn’t be happier.”
This will be Ohio’s first appearance in the Independence Bowl, though it will be the second appearance for Solich, who coached Nebraska in a 27-23 loss against Ole Miss in 2002.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams.