Toledo (1-2) at Central Michigan (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (32,885) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: ESPN GamePlan. Home Record: Toledo 1-0, CMU 1-0. Away Record: Toledo 0-2, CMU 0-2. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 0-0, CMU 0-0. Series Record: Toledo leads, 20-18-3.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets are set to begin their Mid-American Conference slate as they take on the Central Michigan Chippewas at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Rockets picked up their first win of the season last week by downing FCS foe Eastern Washington, 33-21, in their home opener. Coach Matt Campbell's squad failed to pull off an upset in its first two games of the season against SEC opponents Florida (24-6) and Missouri (38-28) prior to last week. Although its only victory came over an FCS opponent, Toledo's win last week has some merit as it was challenged by the same Eagles that upset then nationally-ranked Oregon State to begin their 2013 season.
Central Michigan is also winless against FBS competitors after falling, 31-21, to UNLV in week three. UNLV ran seven less plays, but still held a 411-378 advantage in total yards of offense. Coach Dan Enos watched his team suffer a lopsided, 59-9 defeat to Michigan in the season opener before it captured a 24-21 win over New Hampshire.
These MAC rivals will be squaring off for the 42nd time in history. Toledo has won the last three meetings to take a 20-18-3 all-time series lead. The Rockets earned a 50-35 decision when they played the Chippewas at the Glass Bowl in 2012.
Campbell's offense was at its best last week, holding a 530-377 edge in total yards of offense. Tailback David Fluellen was the motor to the Rockets' attack with 21 carries for a season-high 143 yards and two touchdowns, topping the century mark for a second consecutive week. Cassius McDowell also made his mark with 89 yards on 10 rushes.
Senior quarterback Terrance Owens completed his first two passes against EWU before suffering a left knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the contest. Freshman Logan Woodside replaced the injured Owens and completed 14- of-24 passes for 185 yards and one TD in his collegiate debut. Woodside is likely to make his first career start this week with Owens listed as doubtful. The rookie signal caller has a great weapon for his inaugural start in senior wideout Bernard Reedy, who caught five passes for a season-high 112 yards last week. A substantial portion of his receiving yards total came on his career- long 81-yard touchdown catch.
The Rockets imposed their will on the defensive side of the ball last week to hold EWU to 377 yards of total offense. Toledo's defense is giving up 27.7 ppg, which isn't bad considering the talent level of its competition. Junior Sylvestre tied for the team lead with seven tackles and was also credited with his first career interception and a forced fumble in the second quarter. The junior linebacker is Toledo's leading tackler with 31 total stops.
CMU's offense has been stoppable to this point. The Chippewas are netting only 341.7 yards of total offense per outing and have moved the chains on only 38 percent of their third down plays. Freshman QB Cooper Rush has shown potential in the early season although his inexperience has been evident as well. He hit on 23-of-46 pass attempts for 265 yards and a score, but he was also intercepted twice and sacked three times by UNLV, which came into the game on a five-game losing slide.
Titus Davis reeled in eight passes for 116 yards and a score against the Rebels. The junior wideout would be the No. 1 player in the nation in yards per catch (19.6 avg.) for a career, but is one catch shy of the 100 reception mark required to qualify. Saylor Lavallii has stepped into the starting halfback role with Zurlon Tipton injured. Lavallii set career-highs with 20 carries and 93 yards rushing against UNH.
CMU has the MAC's top two tacklers in its linebacking unit with Justin Cherocci (31) and Shamari Brown (29) getting the job done. Sophomore safety Kavon Frazier is tied for the MAC lead with two interceptions. The strong play of the trio has not yielded great results, though. The team is giving up 37 points and 419.7 yards of total offense per outing.
Although Woodside is facing a big test as he makes his first appearance in the starting lineup, CMU's porous defense is not going to get too many opportunities to take advantage of the potential rookie mistakes until it proves it can stop the run. Rush is still a very young QB as well, having taken over for the injured Cody Kater in the season opener. Toledo holds the upperhand even with Owens unavailable. Fluellen is capable of putting the team on his back and carrying the Rockets back to the .500 mark.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 34, Central Michigan 20
09/18 10:32:31 ET