The Rockets face BYU Friday night after cruising to an easy three victories. BYU comes limping in after losing three out of four. Four games all decided by a field goal or less, and all against power 5 opponents. The Cougar defense has looked stout, only giving up 22 per contest, while their offense has only managed to score 20 or more once. Sophomore linebacker Butch Pau’u stormed on the scene this season, including a 19 tackle performance against UCLA. He’ll need to have a similarly inspired performance against a Toledo offense that is averaging 42.7 points a game and 563.7 yards per game, which is good enough for 8th in the nation. Led by Quarterback Logan Woodside, the Rocket’s offense is one of the most balanced in the country. 4 different backs have over 100 yards on the season, and he has a bevy of options to throw to, including 6’5 270lb Tight End Michael Roberts. Roberts leads all Toledo receivers with 5 touchdowns on the season.
This game isn’t going to be about the stats, though. When I first saw this game, I noticed BYU has to head to East Lansing and a game against 17th ranked Michigan State the following week. Sitting at 1-3, I don’t think looking ahead will be an issue. A game, on the road, at 10:15 at night will probably be an issue for Toledo. It’s also likely to be the first close game for this team. I am sure a lot of this is factoring into BYU being a 4 point favorite. In the end, I think Toledo’s balance on both sides of the ball pull out the win for them.
When the Cougars have the ball, look for the Toledo defense to try and contain duel threat Quarterback Taysom Hill and make him beat them with his arm. He has 4 touchdowns on the year and 7 picks. Moving the ball was a problem the first 3 games, but they found a rhythm against West Virginia rushing for almost 300 yards. WVU uses a 3-3 front similar to Toledo, which could be bad news for the Rockets run defense. However, I take anything that happens against a Big 12 defense with a grain of salt.
When Rockets have the ball, BYU has shown their weakness is against the pass. Woodside should have a good game as long as he distributes the ball to his many play makers and keeps turnovers down. Look for Cody Thompson to make some big plays against the secondary. BYU’s run defense is solid, but they have had a tackling problem at times this season, and given up some big plays. It’s something I think Kareem Hunt and company can exploit.
All in all, I expect a competitive game. Turnovers will be key in this game. Cliche’, I know. This is the first real test for Toledo, so I am curious how they will do against a BYU squad that is much better than their record. There I go again. It should be a close game that comes down to who wants it more under the Friday night lights. Ok, I’ll quit now.