For the Mid-American Conference, the opening week of the season is usually a feast or famine kind of deal. There’s the plentiful bounty of the FCS opponent, one where you can work out the kinks of the offense, give your defense some confidence going forward, and more often than not, satisfy the natives with a healthy victory for the viewing pleasure. Then there’s the payday games where your beloved MAC team goes on the road and takes their whipping all for the almighty dollar. Sure, upsets occur at times in these matchups against “name schools”, but they are few and far between and everyone knows what purpose they serve.
But from time to time we get that marvelous morsel of football where two teams that match up well go at it on the out of conference slate. It isn’t a mismatch, it isn’t a bloodbath, it’s just pure unadulterated football awesomesauce, and come Friday in Jonesboro, Arkansas you’re going to get bathed in it when Toledo takes on Arkansas State.
You should hopefully know the narrative of Toledo if you’ve been following the Belt’s lead up to the 2016 season. There’s a killer Rocket offense, but questions on defense. But as any MAC fan has said at least once, though, “WHO CARES ABOUT DEFENSE! BRING ME THE OFFENSE AND THE PRETTY PRETTY TOUCHDOWNS AT ONCE!” For Toledo, it may be must see tv until the defense finds their way, as peak MACtion is likely to ensue, especially with new head coach Jason Candle being intimately familiar with that side of the ball as the offensive coordinator last season.
Their opponent this week is beatable, but also capable of laying the wood to the Rockets. Arkansas State comes in with a matchup of strength versus strength and their equation for a victory is remarkably simple. Their strength? Defense. How that unit performs against the high octane Rocket attack decides the game plain and simple. Rocket O runs wild? Toledo win. Rocket O gets at least slowed down? Arkansas State win. There’s comfort in simplicity.
At last look, the over/under for this game was 64.5. It is entirely feasible that gets hit by the 3rd quarter. I’m not saying you’re going to see a rematch of the 2014 GoDaddy Bowl, a 63-44 Toledo victory, but I’m saying I wouldn’t be surprised. The action goes down on Friday night, 9pm, ESPNU. I’m not saying cancel your Friday night plans, but I assure you will love this game and watching it more than you love your friends, family, or other commitments. You know it’s true.