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What We Learned from Toledo’s 27-24 victory over Eastern Michigan

Detroit is around the corner should everything go according to plan for the Rockets.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Toledo at Buffalo Photo by Joshua Bessex/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When I did my game review, I stated that the two teams were fairly evenly matched and victory would probably be determined by the team that committed the fewest mistakes.

Eastern Michigan threw and interception but didn’t fumble. Toledo didn’t turnover the ball at all, but I’m not sure if that was the difference. Toledo had more penalties. In many ways, the pre-game assessment feels both right, and somewhat off, as it almost feel like those two facts cancel each other.

So what did we learn about these two teams in what a was a fiercely fought contest?

Eastern Michigan’s offense was stop-and-start

Eastern Michigan normally gets over 200 yards per game in the air, but this was not the casse agaisnt a stiff Toledo passing defense. Between Taylor Powell and Austin Smith, EMU struggled to reach 76 yards, resorting to Dylan Drummond on a WR pass to get their biggest pass play of the day. They weren’t able to balance their running game with their passing game, which as typically been a hallmark of success for the Eagles. It felt like Toledo did a good job of shutting it down.

Eastern Michigan got over 100 yards on the ground. Add the 25 yards they lost from getting sacked, they are around 150 yards, an extremely respectable performance. All three of their touchdowns came on the ground, while Samson Evans got the bulk of those yards, making me think he might be the real deal. If the Eagles could have gotten some better play on the other side of the offense, they could have had a chance to preserve the upset.

Eastern Michigan wasn’t as aggressive on defense

Eastern Michigan had only one sack and four tackles for loss, picking up no turnovers. This is anti-thetical to EMU’s success, as their ability to create possessions off turnovers has given them several chances at pulling out victories in close games.

Agaisnt one of the better offenses in the league in Toledo, they were unable to get any penetration, and it ultimately affected their back end play. It was a disappointing, if understandable, regression. They really need that gamebreaking defense to win most weeks, and it was unfortunately not a factor this go-around.

Eastern Michigan is so close

It was nice to see that Eastern Michigan still had a chance to go to Detroit this late in the season. That means they have come a long way. It would be nice to see they go further though. I would love to see them play in Detroit one day. They came within two minutes of victory— and the all-important MAC West lead.

Toledo proved why they are at the top

Toledo was able to run a fairly balanced offense even despite the loss of starting QB Dequan Finn to an injury suffered last week vs. Buffalo. They won with their backup quarterback, Tucker Gleason, who although not quite the X-Factor Finn is at the position, still managed a great game, finishing 238 yards for three touchdowns and no interceptions. They spread the ball around their receivers, with seven different players registering a catch and three different players hauling in the three scores. They were able to get key rushing plays as well, even after Jacquez Stuart was ejected for accumulation of personal fouls, with 141 total net yards.

Defensively, Toledo was able to get three sacks and five tackles-for-loss, winning the line of scrimmage from the opening whistle on an EMU side which had not seen such a fierce unit since the out-of-conference slate. The Rockets also got an interception and picked up some great pass break-ups as well to stymie the EMU offense. Because of that, they were able to hold Eastern Michigan to 99 yards in the air. If a defense can do that to one of the most balanced and battle-hardened offenses in the MAC, they can go a long way.

Toledo controls their own destiny

Toledo has three games left, and each of those games are fairly vital. Two of the three contses remaining are all-important for securing their road to Detroit, with the other game their cross-divisional rivalry game with the hated BGSU Falcons, who currently sit at 4-1 in the MAC East and tied for first after the weeknight results.

They should be able to win all of those contests given the depth and excellence of their roster, which has bred out some of the better results in the league throughout the last two months. All being said, with three games left for every team on the league schedule, there is still a lot of football left to be played, and stranger things have happened on the weeknights.

Toledo cannot falter from this point forward.