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Week 12 MAC Football Preview: Ball State Cardinals @ Toledo Rockets

The Rockets look to keep pace in the MAC West.

Ohio v Toledo Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images

Rocket nation gets one last chance to pack the Glass Bowl this season. In their home finale, they face the Ball State Cardinals. The Cardinals will try to end their three game losing streak. The Cardinals started the season 3-1, with their only loss to a surprisingly formidable Indiana Hoosier team. After that, they lost 5 out of 6.

When the Cardinals are on offense, they hope to rely on the legs of running back James Gilbert. He leads all MAC rushers with 1196 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Riley Neal can hurt you with both his legs and arm, however he has been inconsistent. The Rocket’s defense has been pretty stout statistically, but has had it’s problems in some games this year, especially on the ground. If Gilbert can get going early, he can help out the Ball State defense, which will have their hands full. It’s really the only chance Ball State has to win this game.

The problem is that James Gilbert is questionable for the game. No replacement has established himself this year, as Gilbert has had the lion’s share of carries. The second leading rusher is QB Neal. My guess is that they will rely on senior Teddy Williamson. Freshman Malik Dunner is a big play threat, and will see carries, too.

KeVonn Mabon has been Neal’s favorite target this season, catching 67 balls for 794 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

When the Rockets have the ball, they have a million weapons and use them all. Logan Woodside leads the country with 37 touchdown passes, and has been very effective spreading the ball around. 4 different Rockets have 5 or more touchdown receptions on the year, with senior tight-end Michael Roberts leading the team with 12. Both Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson average over 20 yards a reception.

The passing attack is set up by the run, and Toledo has one of the best to ever put on a Rocket uniform. Kareem Hunt has over 1000 yards on the season, and is the second all-time rusher for the Rockets, with 4518 yards. That’s 331 yards short of Chester Taylor’s mark. Terry Swanson gets a lot of carries, too, and has very good break away speed.

Aside from the Cardinals, Toledo has the challenge of a huge game looming on the schedule next week. Division leading WMU is undefeated, and is drawing a lot of national attention. College Gameday is making just their second appearance for a MAC game in over 20 years on the air.

The weather forecast for Wednesday is 59 degrees, and no rain. Toledo is favored by 20.5.