Toledo (4-3) at Bowling Green (5-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 26, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt L. Perry Stadium (24,000) -- Bowling Green, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Toledo 3-0, BGSU 4-0. Away Record: Toledo 1-3, BGSU 1-2. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, BGSU 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 2-1, BGSU 3-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 39-34-4.
GAME NOTES: Two teams with Mid-American Conference title hopes square off at Doyt L. Perry Stadium this weekend, as the Bowling Green Falcons play host to the Toledo Rockets in the Battle of I-75.
Matt Campbell's Rockets got off to a slow start this season, dropping their first two games. They have made up for it however, as Toledo has won four of its last five, most recently earning a thrilling 45-44 double-overtime win against Navy. The Rockets are now 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the MAC, good for third place in the West Division.
Dave Clawson's Falcons are sitting atop the East Division standings, tied with Buffalo with a 3-0 mark. At 5-2 overall, Bowling Green is closing in on bowl eligibility. The team was off this past weekend and enters this contest off a heart-breaking 21-20 setback at SEC foe Mississippi State two weeks ago.
While Bowling Green leads the all-time series with Toledo 39-34-4, it's the Rockets who have won the last three bouts, including a 27-15 victory last season.
Toledo's rushing attack took a backseat to Navy's last weekend, but not by much, as the Rockets rolled up 324 yards on the ground, thanks to 160 yards from David Fluellen and 128 yards from Kareem Hunt. The ground game has been the preferred mode of travel for Toledo, with the team netting a healthy 224.9 yards per game on 6.4 yards per carry.
Despite Hunt's contribution against the Midshipmen, Fluellen is the bell cow for Toledo, having already gone over the 1,000 yard mark, with 1,006 yards (6.8 ypc) on the year, with 10 touchdowns.
Quarterback Terrance Owens has just had to be a game-manager in light of Fluellen's production. Owens has completed 60.3 percent of his passes this season, for 1,104 yards, but has more interceptions (6) than TD passes (5). Top targets in Toledo's limited passing game are Bernard Reedy (46 catches, 443 yards, three TDs) and Alonzo Russell (33 catches, 414 yards, three TDs).
Toledo's defense has certainly shown cracks in the foundation. Even in last week's win over Navy, the Rockets had no answer for the Midshipmen's option attack, yielding well over 400 yards on the ground. On the season, the team is giving up 27.9 ppg, with foes moving the ball effectively both on the ground (182.1 ypg) and through the air (231.9 ypg).
Junior Sylestre has made plays all over the field from his safety position, leading the team in tackles (76), with 3.0 TFL, one sack, one interception, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Linebacker Trent Voss is second in total stops (60), with 5.0 TFL and two forced fumbles. Defensive end Jayrone Elliot (48 tackles) is the team's top pass rusher, as six of his eight TFL have come in the way of sacks.
Bowling Green will test Toledo's defense with a balanced attack that is generating over 200 yards on the ground and through the air. The Falcons are putting up 30.3 ppg as a result and churning out 467.0 yards of total offense per game.
Bowling Green will counter Toledo's Fluellen with its own workhorse back in Travis Greene. The 5-foot-10 sophomore is averaging 115.7 yards per game and has amassed 810 yards this season on 6.0 yards per carry.
That has made things easier in the pocket for quarterback Matt Johnson, who has completed a healthy 64.1 percent of his throws, for 1,619 yards, with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. Shaun Joplin has been the top target down the field for BGSU, with 29 catches, for 453 yards (64.7 ypg).
The Falcons have performed well on the defensive side of the ball this season, allowing just 17.1 ppg (ninth nationally), while yielding just 191.3 yards passing (15th nationally). However, the team has recorded just eight takeaways in the first seven games.
Leading the defensive effort for BGSU is linebacker D.J. Lynch, who has a team-high 41 tackles, with 5.0 TFL and one sack. Safety BooBoo Gates is a close second with 38 stops and has one of the team's two interceptions to date. Rush end Kendall Montgomery (18 tackles) leads the team in sacks with three.
These two teams are jockeying for position in the MAC, so this is a crucial matchup for both sides. Fluellen is a special player that seems to always produce. Although he may get his yards in this game, BGSU's balanced attack will be the difference, as Toledo may be playing catchup for much of the afternoon.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 31, Toledo 22
10/23 10:59:09 ET