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What We Learned from Toledo’s 77-21 loss to Ohio State

It was a blowout, which was to be expected, but Toledo fans should be encouraged by what they saw on Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Toledo at Ohio State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a tough outing for Toledo this past Saturday, as the Rockets travelled to Columbus and were promptly dispatched by Ohio State, 77-21. In many ways, this game was almost the exact opposite of the Rockets’ first two contests: while it’s tough to learn too much from a game when your opponent is clearly overmatched, the same can be said when you are the one in the role of steep underdog.

That was certainly the case here, as evidenced by the 31 point spread that was placed on this game. Regardless of the final outcome, there were certainly some silver linings for the Rockets, and all of their goals are still ahead of them. Let’s take a look at what we learned in this one.

Dequan Finn is really, really good

Listen, this is something that MAC fans already knew.

The dynamic sophomore quarterback is one of the best players in the MAC, and MAC defenses will have a heck of a time stopping him this season. There’s something to be said for a player stepping up his game when the level of competition increases, and that certainly feels like it was the case here.

Finn’s stat line may seem modest. He completed only 10-of-19 passes for 153 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He ran for only 70 yards and another score, though his average of 10 yards per carry is very impressive. Certainly, Finn will have games this year where he accounts for more yards or more points. But when you consider the competition, Finn had himself one of the best games of his career.

Look at it this way: in this game, the Toledo offense produced 307 yards. Finn was directly responsible for 223 of them, good for over 70 percent of the Rockets offensive output. For most of this game, Finn was literally the only thing that was working for the Toledo offense. Finn had seven carries for 70 yards. The rest of Toledo’s backs combined for 74 yards on 26 carries. 2.84 yards per carry is not going to cut it.

The point here is not to criticize the running backs, but to point out just how important Finn is to this team. He has shown he can play with the big boys. The next challenge will be to see if he can lead this team to a MAC championship.

Perhaps the Rockets have figured out the penalty problem?

It’s been well publicized that Toledo was the most penalized team in the FBS last year, averaging almost 100 yards per game in penalties. A heavily penalized team is an undisciplined team, and there were games last year that the Rockets could have won, if only they could have gotten out of their own way.

This year began much in the same way, with Toledo racking up nine penalties for 79 yards in their season opening win over Long Island. This was not an encouraging sign for Rockets fans, and something that needs cleaned up.

The last two weeks have been much more encouraging. In last weeks’ 55-10 win over UMass, the Rockets committed only four infractions for 38 yards. On Saturday against Ohio State, their four penalties cost them only 23 yards.

This is something that the Rockets need to build upon, and it appears that they’re trending in the right direction. If Toledo can stay out of their own way, there’s no team in the MAC that they can’t compete with.

Like was written in the opening, it’s hard to glean too much from a game like this where you’re clearly overmatched. Ohio State is a national title contender for a reason, and they will be vastly more talented than most teams they face. Toledo has nothing to be ashamed of from this performance, especially offensively.

The Rockets were the only one of Ohio State’s three opponents thus far to gain over 300 yards on the Buckeyes defense, and the 21 points they scored were also a season high for an OSU opponent. This was certainly a game that Toledo fans would have loved to win, but it doesn’t effect their long term goals. The Rockets have been as impressive as any team in the MAC through three weeks, and this defeat won’t change that.