It's the Battle of I-75 on Wednesday night when Toledo makes the short trip to face Bowling Green. Both MAC teams posted huge offensive numbers in their last game, but only one came out on the winning end.
Toledo (4-5, 2-3 MAC) piled up 672 yards at home against Eastern Michigan but couldn't protect a 28-24 halftime lead as the Rockets fell 52-49 last Tuesday. The loss not only basically eliminated Toledo from contention in the West Division — the Rockets still need two wins in their last three games to become bowl eligible.
Bowling Green (3-6, 1-4) also needs a win to keep any postseason hopes alive, although the Falcons are coming off a big 56-44 victory at Buffalo two Saturdays ago. They led 28-10 at halftime but the Bulls rallied in the third quarter which also saw Bowling Green head coach Scot Loeffler get ejected after drawing two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. However, his offense exploded for four touchdowns in a back-and-forth fourth quarter to secure the upset over the defending MAC East champs.
Even though Toledo and Bowling Green aren't in the same division, their close proximity (separated by less than 30 miles) helps fuel this rivalry. The Rockets hold a slim (41-40-4) lead in the series after winning 10 of the past 11 meetings.
Toledo at Bowling Green
Kickoff: Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Toledo -9.5
When Toledo Has the Ball
Offense was not an issue for the Rockets last week against Eastern Michigan. Their 672 yards were the most for the team in more than four years. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dequan Finn had a monster game, throwing for 461 yards with three touchdowns, but he also turned the ball over twice.
Finn's fumble in the third quarter gave the Eagles a short field, which they capitalized on with a touchdown to give them a 45-28 lead. For the game, Toledo lost the turnover battle (3-1), which proved to be significant considering they outgained EMU by nearly 200 yards (672 to 490).
Finn and Matt Landers connected five times for 150 yards and two touchdowns, one of them covering 80 yards. All told, Finn connected with nine different teammates and averaged 15.4 yards on his 30 completions (45 attempts).
It wasn't an all-out aerial assault for the Rockets, as Bryant Koback gashed the Eagles for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. His 12.0 yards per carry performance was aided by a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Koback is second in the MAC with 815 rushing yards. He's also sixth in school history with 3,441 career rushing yards. He will look to add to his totals against a Bowling Green defense that is seventh in the conference against the run (194 ypg). Buffalo went for 222 yards and five touchdowns on the ground against the Falcons two Saturdays ago, albeit in a losing effort.
For the season, Bowling Green is giving up 376 yards and 31 points per game. Statistically speaking, the Falcons have the MAC's top passing defense (182 ypg) with eight interceptions compared to 10 touchdown passes allowed. But this also is a defense that surrendered 499 yards and 36 first downs its last time out, while Toledo is coming off of its best offensive showing of the season.
When Bowling Green Has the Ball
To say the Falcons' win over Buffalo represented an offensive explosion would be an understatement. The 56 points were the most in a game since in nearly six years (62 vs. Ohio on Nov. 4, 2015), while the 484 yards were the most in more than two years (620 vs. FCS Morgan State on Aug. 29, 2019).
In fact, the 28 points Bowling Green scored in the fourth quarter alone to beat the Bulls were the most in a game in nearly two years (35 vs. Akron on Nov. 2, 2019). Even with this outburst, the Falcons are still last in the MAC yards per game (333.7) and 10th in scoring (23.6 ppg). Running the ball has been an ongoing struggle, as the Falcons are last in the conference and 124th nationally with just 95 rushing yards per game. If there's one positive, it's that Terion Stewart is coming off of by far his best effort of the season: 170 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the win over Buffalo. His big play was a 77-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Bowling Green quarterback Matt McDonald also did his part with 263 passing yards and four touchdowns on just 13 completions (out of 19 attempts). It was just his second game this season with multiple touchdown passes, giving him 10 on the season to go with seven interceptions. Both Tyrone Broden and Christian Sims went over 100 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns apiece. Prior to that, Broden was the only one with a 100-yard receiving game this season.
The Falcons may be hard-pressed to repeat their performance, however, as Toledo ranks first in the MAC in scoring defense (22.0 ppg) and second in total defense (345 ypg). The Rockets also are fourth against the run (144.3 ypg) and lead the conference in passing efficiency defense (121.4). And they have maintained these rankings after giving up 52 points and 490 yards (360 passing) last Tuesday to Eastern Michigan.
These two teams combined for 105 points and 1,056 yards of offense in their last games. Toledo even threw in a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (by Jacquez Stewart) for good measure. However, don't expect similar production on Wednesday night. For one, the Rockets have fielded one of the better defenses in the MAC this season. Secondly, prior to the 56-point explosion against Buffalo, Bowling Green was averaging less than 20 points per game.
Rivalry games can be hard to peg, but look for this edition of the Battle of I-75 to look a lot like 10 of the past 11 meetings.
Prediction: Toledo 38, Bowling Green 24
Podcast: Week 10 Recap, Reaction to Coaching Changes, and a Preview of CFB Playoff Rankings