Fresh off their 16-12 upset against Arkansas, Toledo looks to avenge their seven-point defeat from last year against the Iowa State Cyclones.
Iowa State will be entering the matchup with a 1-1 record, after a tough defeat at home against rival Iowa at home. Leading 17-10 at halftime, the Cyclones were held without a point in the second half, while completely falling apart within the final minutes against Iowa. The Cyclones gave up two heartbreaking touchdowns in just over a minute late in the fourth quarter after an interception and a turnover on downs.
Quarterback Sam Richardson will be key against the Rockets if ISU plans on leaving the Glass Bowl with the win. He rattled Toledo last year for a career-high 351 passing yards on 53 attempts. Iowa State will need a lot from Sammy if the Cyclones are going to win this game. Only averaging 70 rushing yards per game, through two games albeit, Iowa State will most likely do most of their damage through the air. The Rockets will also need to be weary of Richardson's rushing abilities, however. Not typically known for his legs, he is mobile enough to give the defense some problems, and another element to worry about.
Just in time for another tough non-conference game, the Rockets will get running back Kareem Hunt and defensive end Allen Covington back from suspension. Hunt will look to razzle and dazzle opponents like he did last season, having gained over 100 rushing yards in 11 straight games that he's played. In fact, you have to go all the way back to November of 2013 to find the last time Hunt didn't rush for triple digits.
Covington looks to help strengthen the Toledo defense, which looked decent in their win in Little Rock. While they gave up over 500 yards of offense, they didn't break, only allowing 12 points. That's the fewest Toledo has allowed since 2010 against Eastern Michigan (7). Quite possibly one of the most impressive statistics from last Saturday's win, was the fact Toledo gave up 103 rushing yards on 31 attempts. That's a 3.3 yards per carry average. Not only is that great for Rocket fans to see, but the fact that they did it against the largest offensive line in the country or the NFL for that matter (by average weight) is all the more impressive.
The largest question I see yet to be answered is about Toledo's offensive line. Yes, they did play one heck of a game on the road against a top-25 team, but can they keep that up? Before the Arkansas game, the five starting linemen had a combined three starts between them. All of those three games from left tackle Storm Norton, who had a few penalties called against him in the victory. Still, give the Rockets credit. They held their ground well, created some good running lanes for the backs, and didn't give up a sack. The O-Line will be a key component again this week as Kareem Hunt comes back and looks to bolster Toledo's sub-par rushing stats.
Lastly, one of the most frustrating aspects of what was overall a great game against Arkansas, were the dropped passes. Toledo seemed to drop passes left and right. A few of which should have been caught for some critical first downs. Maybe it was just a bad day for the receivers, but you cannot have those consistently throughout the season and expect to keep winning. Especially against teams that can capitalize on turnovers. Toledo will need every facet of their game going if they expect to best Iowa State. Too often you see teams come off a huge victory, only to get knocked off their high horse the next game. Let's all hope for the sake of MACtion that will not be the case this week.