August 29th – Game Week has arrived at the University of Toledo.
And this time it starts as planned with full stadiums.
The Rockets start 2020 on a 4-2 season as the coronavirus pandemic has devastated college football. This year isn’t all for Jason Candle and Co., but it’s time UT took advantage of the Mid-American Conference’s top list.
For the past few seasons, Toledo has been a favorite or one of the top contenders, with an illness, inexplicable losses, and at times both contributed to his downfall. MAC West enemy Ball State is the favorite this season and Toledo is the closest follower.
If you are a Toledo fan it might be wise to keep the first Saturday of December free.
Here’s a game-by-game look at the schedule.
Sept 4: Norfolk State
Norfolk State has not played since November 2019 after the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 seasons were canceled. The Spartans were 5-7 in 2019 and haven’t won a season in a decade. The Glass Bowl should be an exciting place considering fans have been able to attend a game for the first time in nearly two calendar years, and the city should be in an excitement about the Solheim Cup.
September 11th: in Notre Dame
The most important game on the board, even if it is not called a conference, because a win would take the Rockets too seldom. The place on the calendar is perfect for UT, who opens the season with an FCS opponent. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is playing in Florida State last Sunday night. The Irish give back only two starters on the offensive and six on the defensive. Quarterback Jack Coan, a transfer from Wisconsin, is a major offshoot of Ian Book. Toledo should be within striking distance well into the second half.
Winner: Notre Dame
September 18: Colorado State
The Rams have a solid football history, but sophomore coach Steve Addazio is in the middle of a rebuilding. Year 1 did not go according to plan due to the pandemic, with the state of Colorado falling behind due to a lack of spring. A 1-3 season didn’t mean great things, though the Rams sacked the quarterback almost better than any team in the country. On the offensive, however, Colorado State is arduous and has no contact with today’s game.
The story goes on
September 25th: Ball status
The last time Toledo traveled to Muncie it lost 52-14 and many wondered if something was wrong with the program. The Rockets return to the scene of the most one-sided loss of the candle era to seek revenge and become the MAC front-runner. Ball State is loaded and coming off a season of one loss and a national ranking. The Cardinals have one of the best QBs in the league in Drew Plitt, but UT could turn hay into a vulnerable secondary as ball state fields.
October 2: at UMass
Former MAC opponents Massachusetts are arguably the worst team in the country. Perhaps the toughest place to win in FBS, UMass has never won more than four games since moving from FCS in 2012. Current manager Walt Bell is 1-15 in three seasons and it won’t get much better in 2021, which should be a no-brainer for the Rockets.
October 9: Northern Illinois
Gone are the days when northern Illinois was an annual stumbling block to Toledo. Toledo is just a much better program. The gap has widened significantly since NIU beat the Rockets in 2018 and 2019. Thomas Hammock’s two seasons as head coach drove the once proud huskies to overthrow the MAC pecking order. He’s 5-13 overall and comes from a 0-6 season.
October 16: in Central Michigan
One of the most underrated games on the board considering the quality of the opponent and that he is not in the glass bowl. Ball State and Toledo have removed most of the oxygen from the MAC West discussion, while Jim McElwain’s Chippewas patiently lurks in the background. Central Michigan returns 20 starters, plus a Washington transfer quarterback (Jacob Sirmon). The offense could make headlines in the MAC and the CMU defense forced 15 ball losses with 84 ball possession last season.
October 23: Western Michigan
Last season’s collapse against Western Michigan was an absolute shock. If you think there won’t be extra motivation for UT this year, you could be living on Mars. The Broncos have 16 recurring starters – eight on offense, eight on defensive. But it’s defense that remains a blatant problem, which allowed 34.2 points per game in 2020. It’s a unit that needs to be upgraded to tame Toledo.
November 2: Eastern Michigan
A weakling no longer, Eastern Michigan has become a pesky opponent. But annoyance doesn’t always mean victories for the Eagles. Cincinnati transfer quarterback Ben Bryant could give a boost. More important to Eastern, however, is a defense that needs to improve dramatically.
November 10: in the bowling green
Like Ball State, BGSU represents a return to a horror scene. In 2019, Schotte Loeffler’s first year as head coach, the Falcons angered Toledo and gave the rebuilding program a massive shot in the arm. The problem is, it has mostly been downhill since then. The BGSU is still one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the country. Even in a rivalry game, there is no surprise in sight in 2021.
November 16: in Ohio
Although Ohio hasn’t won a MAC title since 1968, it’s always a contender and no game against the Bobcats is easy. Frank Solich or not, a short trip to Athens in November will not be easy. They bring back seven starters on either side of the ball, including their key players on offense. Unbeaten MAC seasons are rare. This game pops out as a trap.
November 27: Akron
After a stretch of two street games in six days, Toledo gets 10 days off. And then the Rockets return for one of their easiest games of the season. The Zips have big holes on both offense and defense, and Toledo has the players to exploit weaknesses on either side of the ball. Seniors’ day in the Glass Bowl could quickly turn into a snoozer.