The U of Toledo:
Following a 47-21 loss to the University of Akron, the Eastern Michigan University Eagles (1-5, 0-2) will head to the Glass Bowl to take on the undefeated and nationally ranked University of Toledo Rockets (5-0, 2-0). Matt Campbell, who is in his fourth year as the head coach at Toledo, has compiled one of the more impressive resumes in the Mid-American Conference, having a career record of 31-13 as a head coach.
Toledo is currently ranked no. 22 in the AP poll. The Rockets acquired praise after having quality wins over power-five conference opponents such as defeating Iowa State and no. 18 Arkansas this season.
Defense Wins the Rockets Games:
The Toledo defense has been nothing short of outstanding this season. The Rockets are allowing just 11.8 points per game, that is the sixth best scoring defense in the country. Toledo features standout cornerback Rolan Milligan who has two interceptions on the season, one of them being returned for a touchdown against Arkansas State.
The Rockets also feature the seventh best red-zone defense in all of college football. Credit is due to just about the entire defensive line and linebackers but standout defensive end Trent Voss, complied six tackles in the win over Kent State last week. Toledo had only given up 83-yards to Kent State in the second half just a week ago.
Big Name Players Making Big Time Plays:
Quarterback Phillip Ely, a transfer from the University of Alabama, runs the Toledo offense. Ely has thrown for six touchdowns and an average of over 200-yards through the air a game.
But a big part of the Toledo offense comes on the ground. Running back Kareem Hunt was first-team all-MAC a season ago but injuries have plagued his playing time this season. Hunt is back from injury and is expected to play this week as he did see a few carries last week against Kent State. The Rockets have proven they have many weapons at the running back position with Terry Swanson, and Damion Jones-Moore getting an equal amount of carries game-by-game. Ten of the Rockets touchdowns this season have come on the ground, and they have averaged just under 197.8-yards per game.
Eagles Trying to End Cinderella’s Story:
Toledo, like many other schools throughout the MAC, feels as if they are not as welcomed by the power-five schools as quality competition. Outsiders looking in haven’t respected the MAC, but recently the conference has turned some heads with the quality of play they have had against some of the nations best competition. Toledo has reached the point of being that Cinderella story, and making a bigger name for the conference like Northern Illinois did back in 2013, going to the Orange Bowl.
The Eagles look to make adjustments to try and stop the balanced attack of the Toledo offense.
“The ball snaps and it’s a moving puzzle, so you got to fit all your pieces in the right spots. That starts with preparing and practicing with eye discipline and fall through with execution,” said EMU defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin. “When you’re doing your job and fitting into the space or slot that you’re supposed to fit into, then the next guy can do his, and the next guy can do his.”
It won’t be an easy task for EMU to take down the no. 22 ranked Rockets, but it’s a challenge Eastern Michigan looks forward to.
“Our guys seem to be excited about those games, and those challenges,” coach Chris Creighton said in regards to playing nationally ranked Toledo. “We’ve only had two road games and we’ve played pretty well on the road.”