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Five Things Learned: Toledo 37, Eastern Michigan 34

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A wild finish in a downpour, but Toledo gets back on track.

NCAA Football: Toledo at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Peters is Toledo’s best bet without Guadagni

Carter Bradley’s time will come. He’s a redshirt freshman, and still has plenty of time to develop over the next three seasons. But with starting quarterback Mitchell Guadagni out with an injury, Toledo turned to junior Eli Peters to make his first start of the season.

Peters, a familiar face, closed the 2018 season in relief of a Guadagni season-ending injury. He started six games including the Bahamas Bowl and threw for 1,573 yards, 15 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. After an offensive debacle in Muncie last week, Toledo switched things up and turned to the veteran Peters. In adverse conditions, Peters struggled with accuracy this week, but he got the job done on several impactful throws.

The first of Peters’ touchdown passes was a perfect strike to a leaping Bryce Mitchell at the front of the end zone. The second was a dart to tight end Drew Rosi near the front corner of the end zone — the walk-off throw for the win. Peters averaged more than 15 yards per completion and arguably places the best deep ball out of any Toledo quarterback. Even if Guadagni remains out for the foreseeable future, the Rockets’ offense should be comfortable in the hands of Peters — who won four of the team’s final six games a year ago.

Bryant Koback heats up like an NBA Jam player

When Bryant Koback gets hot, absolutely nothing is stopping him. The sophomore running back has registered three 100-yard games for the Rockets this season. One of them featured 177 yards, another featured 228, and his ridiculous performance at the Glass Bowl on Saturday featured a career-high 259 rushing yards. Only Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard also has produced two games of 220 rushing yards this season.

The forward pass becomes a struggle in the monsoon, so Toledo turned to Koback 32 times on the ground, and he delivered. His 54-yard run in the early third quarter was the highlight that provided Toledo a 21-point cushion, but Koback consistently racked up carries of over 10 yards throughout the entire afternoon. When Koback succeeds, he dominates, and Eastern Michigan’s defense faced his wrath in the form of over 250 yards during the showdown.

Eastern Michigan and OT losses, an inseparable pair

Right when we thought Eastern Michigan’s days of overtime heartbreakers were in the past, the Eagles revert back to their old ways. Chris Creighton’s team put up a valiant effort surging back from a 21-point second half deficit to send the game into overtime. But when overtime and Eastern Michigan mix, ugly things tend to happen and Saturday was no exception.

  • In 2018, Eastern Michigan played in two overtime games — an OT loss to San Diego State and a 3OT loss to Northern Illinois
  • In 2017, Eastern Michigan played in three overtime games — a 2OT loss to Ohio, an OT loss to Western Michigan, and an OT loss to Northern Illinois
  • In 2016, Eastern Michigan played in one overtime game — an OT loss to Northern Illinois

The most recent loss at Toledo makes the Eagles 0-7 in overtime finishes under Chris Creighton. This program has come a long way since the days of 1-11 records, but so many wins have been left on the table over the years due to lack of late-game execution. A missed 33-yard field goal with 63 seconds left was the crucial blow in this one.

Eastern Michigan is the Pitt of the MAC

Being Pitt has its perks, but also its downsides. For example, Pitt has taken down a ranked team in four consecutive seasons — two of them happened to be in the AP Top 3. Also, Pitt’s records have deviated between 5-7 at worst and 8-5 at best in those respective seasons. With the Panthers, you never know what you’re getting. One week, you’re a play away from taking down Penn State, the next week you’re beating UCF, and then you nearly lose to an FCS team.

Eastern Michigan is the same way. The Eagles play to the level of the opponent nearly every week of the season, involving themselves in six one-possession games in eight outings. One of those games happened to be a road win at Illinois — a 4-4 Big Ten team that stunned Wisconsin. Another of those games happened to be a last-second victory over an FCS team, Central Connecticut. At 4-4, Eastern Michigan is flirting with another season that resembles the last three — 7-6, 5-7, and 7-6. But each game remains hard to predict, as they all come down to the wire in Pitt fashion. Unpredictability and close games makes for exciting football, but doesn’t help the hearts of those in Ypsilanti.

The offensive lines played at an elite level

Both quarterbacks, Eli Peters and Mike Glass, received plenty of time on each throw. Neither passer faced much pressure, as the guys in their trenches dominated all afternoon. Zero sacks were recorded in the game and the Eagles and Rockets combined for just five tackles for loss. The running backs also reveled in the success of their offensive lines. Bryant Koback posted 259 and Shakif Seymour added 94 rushing yards for Toledo. Eastern Michigan’s running game was also jump-started by good blocking, as Shaq Vann bolted for a season-high 110. As a result of the strong showing, Toledo guard Nick Rosi even earned PFF College National Team of the Week honors.