And what a way to lose a football game it was. I have heard the expression of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory," but the video clip below truly encapsulates that sentiment.
It will bear watching how Toledo responds after the 41-38 loss to Western Michigan. The Rockets gave up a 10-point lead with less than a minute on the clock after never trailing the entire contest. Their one silver lining is that they've scored 38 points in each of their first two games after averaging 27.2 ppg last season.
Eastern Michigan, meanwhile, sits at 0-2 after losing a heartbreaker of its own at Ball State, 38-31. Ball State scored the winning touchdown with only 6 seconds remaining on the clock to clinch the victory. The Eagles had built a 24-13 second-half lead and looked on their way to their first win in four games before things unraveled.
Toledo at Eastern Michigan
Kickoff: Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Toledo -8
When Toledo Has the Ball
The crushing loss to Western Michigan obscured the solid performance of Rockets quarterback Eli Peters. Peters completed 30 of 46 passes for 339 yards and 1 touchdown. Although the sample sizes for each of his three seasons are small, he's already posting career-highs in completion rate (64.1 percent), adjusted yards per attempt (7.8), and passer rating (142.2).
Peters is complimented by the strong all-around play of running back Bryant Koback. The junior carried the ball 24 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns while also adding seven catches for 61 yards. Koback is the main focus of the Toledo offense, so the Eastern Michigan defense will be geared towards identifying him whenever he is on the field.
When Eastern Michigan Has the Ball
Preston Hutchinson directs the Eastern Michigan attack in his first season as a full-time starter. Hutchinson completed 17 of 29 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown while also leading the Eagles with 17 carries for 104 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing. Wideouts Tanner Knue (12 receptions, 166 yards) and Hassan Beydoun (nine receptions, 112 yards) have been his top targets, and senior tight end Thomas Odukoya has been a red-zone weapon with a pair of touchdowns.
The Toledo defense was superb in their season debut win over Bowling Green (38-3). Even with a high-scoring game last week, they still are tied for second in the MAC in rushing defense (146.0 ypg) and sixth in passing defense (206.0 ypg), while tying for third with three takeaways. Coming off such a bitter loss from the last game, look for the Rockets to attempt to reclaim their defensive dominance over a versatile Eastern Michigan offensive attack.
The loss at Western Michigan was heartwrenching for Toledo, and could clearly define the Rockets' 2020 season if they allow it. Eastern Michigan has the talent to stick around with Toledo, but look for the Rockets to bounce back and regain some positive momentum.
Prediction: Toledo 38, Eastern Michigan 28
(Eli Peters photo courtesy of utrockets.com)