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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 8 Game Notes: Western Michigan Broncos @ Toledo Rockets

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Western Michigan at Pitt Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fresh off of a dominant victory against East division favorite Kent State last week, the Western Michigan Broncos (5-2, 2-1 MAC) travel south to Toledo (3-4, 1-2 MAC) on Saturday afternoon. In their last meeting, these two teams gave us one of the most memorable matchups of 2020, with Western Michigan rallying from a ten point deficit in the final minute to pull off an improbable 41-38 victory. The Rockets have revenge on their mind this year and are looking to get back on track, coming off of a heartbreaking 26-23 overtime loss to Central Michigan last week. The Rockets have lost two in a row, both to MAC West rivals, which has hampered optimism after a promising start to the season. A victory at home over Western Michigan would be just what the doctor ordered for Toledo, but the Broncos enter this contest full of confidence.

GAME NOTES

  • Time and Date: 3:30 PM, Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Network: CBS Sports Network
  • Location: Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH
  • Spread/Total: Western Michigan -2.5, O/U 55
  • All-time series: Toledo leads, 44-31
  • Last Meeting: Western Michigan 41, Toledo 38 – November 11, 2020

THE NUMBERS

Offensive Points Per Game:

· Toledo: 27.7 (t-6th in MAC)

· Western Michigan: 31.0 (1st in MAC)

Defensive Points Per Game:

· Toledo: 18.7 (1st)

· Western Michigan: 26.3 (5th)

Yards Per Game:

· Toledo: 385.4 (6th)

· Western Michigan: 438.4 (3rd)

Yards Allowed Per Game:

· Toledo: 315.7 (1st)

· Western Michigan: 322.0 (2nd)


Western Michigan Players to Watch

· DT Ali Fayad: The fifth year senior has been a pillar of the Western Michigan defense for what feels like a decade, having burst on the scene in 2018 as a sophomore with 7.5 sacks. He hasn’t looked back since. Fayad is currently second in the MAC with five sacks this year, and his ability to be disruptive in the backfield has been paramount to the Broncos defensive philosophy this year. WMU’s defensive success is predicated on pressuring the quarterback and forcing turnovers. The pressure that Fayad and fellow defensive lineman Ralph Holley have been able to provide has allowed the Broncos to get pressure without being overly reliant on the blitz. Toledo will have their hands full trying to block him.

· RB Sean Tyler: Despite splitting carries with fellow RB La’Darius Jefferson, Tyler is second in the MAC in rushing, racking up 583 yards and three scores on 96 carries thus far this year. Tyler’s 6.1 yards per carry rank fourth in the MAC, and he has been a problem for opposing defenses all season. The sophomore had his best game of the season last week, with 169 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He will provide a tough test for the stout Toledo run defense.


Toledo Players to Watch

· RB Bryant Koback: The local product transferred to Toledo in 2017 after starting his collegiate career at Kentucky, and he has not looked back. Koback has been the Rockets leading rusher every year since 2018, and has 542 yards and five scores on 103 carries thus far in 2021. Not only is he great in the run game, but he has proven to be an effective pass catcher as well. Koback is currently third on the team with 19 catches for 220 yards and two scores on the season. His versatility will cause problems for this Western Michigan defense. Koback has traditionally saved his best games for the biggest stages in his career, and that has held true this season. Koback rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries against Notre Dame in week two.

· WR Devin Maddox: While the Western Michigan defense has been good on the whole this year, they have been prone to the big play in the passing game. Maddox could prove to be a problem for the Broncos secondary, as he currently ranks sixth in the MAC with a 16.3 yards per reception average. Maddox is a legitimate deep threat, and has put up solid numbers this season despite the Rockets having some uncertainty at the quarterback position. Maddox currently leads Toledo with 23 catches for 375 yards and three scores on the season.


Where they Stand

Western Michigan enters this game full of confidence after last weeks 64-31 domination over Kent State. The Broncos had some questions to answer after their 45-20 defeat against Ball State the week prior, and they responded with their best performance of the season. Offensively, Western hung 648 yards on the Golden Flashes defense and scored on 10 of their first 12 drives of the game. Defensively, they held the potent Kent State rushing attack to only 124 yards on 34 carries. Sitting at 2-1 in the conference, a win against Toledo would put the Broncos in the drivers seat to make it to Ford Field.

Toledo, on the other hand, enters this game with a ton of questions to answer. The near upset against Notre Dame in week two provided Toledo fans with hope that the Rockets would get over the hump this year. Unfortunately, inconsistency on offense has temporarily derailed their season, and they are running out of time to get back on track. After defeating Ball State 22-12 in week four, the Rockets have lost back to back MAC games the past two weeks and are currently last in the West at 1-2. Last week, the offense took too long to get going, as the Rockets trailed Central Michigan 20-3 in the third quarter. Devin Maddox led a valiant comeback and forced overtime, but the Rockets ultimately ran out of gas in the extra session. This feels like a critical game for the Rockets, and this feels like a must win if they want to have a realistic shot to get back to a bowl game this year.