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2018 Week 4 MAC Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack @ Toledo Rockets

It’s recovery time for the Rockets after a crushing loss to Miami.

NCAA Football: Miami at Toledo Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Although the house probably won’t be as packed this time around, the Glass Bowl will host a football game for the second-straight Saturday.

This time, the visitor hails from Reno — the 2-1 Nevada Wolf Pack.

Both Toledo and Nevada received opportunities at besting Power Five opponents at their respective home stadiums last Saturday. Only the Wolf Pack succeeded, although greeted by an opponent of much weaker caliber.

Nevada defeated Oregon State and its turnover chainsaw, 37-35. Leading 30-7, Nevada nearly blew a 23-point lead in the second half. But Ty Gangi, McLane Mannix and the offense scored one more time in the fourth quarter to stave off the Beavers’ comeback and seal their second win.

Toledo struggled against a ranked Miami Hurricanes squad for the second-straight year. After falling 52-30 in 2017, not too much changed in the Glass Bowl. This time around, Miami rolled out to a 21-0 lead and set sail back for South Beach with a 49-24 final.

The Rockets briefly made it interesting in the middle, coming within seven points of the Hurricanes in the third quarter. Although the offense was scorchingly hot during this period, Toledo’s defense failed to make key stops, especially in the rushing department. Miami rushed for five touchdowns and 268 yards on the Rockets’ home turf.

Facing Miami was the first of Toledo’s two non-conference rematches in 2018. The Rockets defeated Nevada in Reno, 37-24, a year ago. However, this year’s Nevada already seems to be rebranded into a new-and-improved football program after a horrific 3-9 season in 2017.

But even with the Gangi-to-Mannix QB-WR connection, Nevada doesn’t quite match Toledo’s offensive firepower. Mitch Guadagni is no Logan Woodside, but the new Toledo starting quarterback does have some mobility and demonstrated he’s a capable passer at times last week.

Where Toledo’s strength really lies is within the receiving corps. Senior Cody Thompson and junior Diontae Johnson headline the talented group, and the duo receives additional support from Jon’Vea Johnson and Danzel McKinley-Lewis. Diontae Johnson was the most unstoppable Rocket in Week 2, accumulating 119 receiving yards and two touchdowns against a strong Miami secondary.

Luckily for the wideouts, Nevada sports the ninth-worst passing defense in the nation, allowing 323.3 passing yards per game. This may allow Guadagni’s crew to have a field day at the Glass Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

Game Notes

  • Time and Date: Saturday, September 22 — 12 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Glass Bowl — Toledo, OH
  • Network: CBS SN
  • ESPN FPI Predictor: Toledo has 75.4% chance to win
  • All-time series: Toledo leads 4-0

The programs met three times in the 1990s, where the Rockets secured three wins by way of a dominating offense. Last year’s result was closer than Toledo probably hoped, but an average offensive performance prevented the Rockets from complete domination.

It’s hard to learn about Toledo from two games against polar opposite opponents. VMI is about as bad as FCS teams come, while Miami looks to be a solid defensive ACC squad, coming off of an Orange Bowl appearance. Nevada sits somewhere in the middle, but the Wolf Pack’s defense will probably have issues containing Toledo’s myriad of offensive weapons. Expect great days from the receivers and running back Shakif Seymour, allowing Toledo to claim its first FBS win of the season.

Prediction: Toledo 36, Nevada 24