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2023 MAC Football Week 8 Game Preview: Toledo Rockets at Miami RedHawks

This game was already circled on the calendar months in advance, but the hype for it has only gotten even hotter. Boca Raton Bowl - Liberty v Toledo Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The 12-year wait for the Rockets and RedHawks to resume their in-state rivalry, might just be worth it.

When Toledo (6-1, 3-0 MAC) and Miami (6-1, 3-0) face off in Oxford, it could be a preview of the MAC Championship game, as both schools currently lead their respective divisions. All eyes will be on this matchup on Saturday, as the loser will open themselves up to being jumped in the standings.

Let’s get right into it:

Game Notes

  • Date and time: Saturday, October 21 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time
  • Network: ESPNU (a valid cable subscription is required)
  • Location: Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio
  • Gambling considerations: Toledo are two-point favorites, with an over/under of 48.5, per DraftKings.
  • All-time series: Toledo leads all-time with a record of 28-22-1, with Toledo winning two of the last three matchups.
  • Last Meeting: October 22, 2011 — Toledo 49, Miami 28

Toledo outlook

NCAA Football: Toledo at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Candle’s squad have done just what they needed to to pull out wins over the last few weeks. After a Week 1 loss at Illinois, the offense powered them to their first five victories. Last week, a talented defensive unit finally stepped up to lead the team to a low-scoring victory against a scrappy Ball State team. They’ll look to get the best out of both units to get the win in Oxford.

QBuarterback Dequan Finn had a tough day playing in rainy conditions last week but was still able to limit mistakes. The offensive line had a few issues on pass protection last week as David Nwaogwugwu went down with an injury, but are still having a great season overall, allowing just two sacks all year. Also in the passing game, Junior Vandeross III continues to make an impact with a team-leading 26 receptions for 377 yards in his first season as a starter in the Glass City.

Toledo’s run game has been the most consistent part of the offense. Peny Boone continues to have a breakout season as he has 792 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Boone — and Toledo’s run blocking — against the Miami run defense should be a good battle in this one. Dequan Finn and running back Jacquez Stuart should test the RedHawks on the ground as well.

There is no doubt Toledo has playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. After some shaky weeks, the Rockets D reminded us of that last week. Linebacker Daniel Bolden had a great game against Ball State as well as safety Maxen Hook who had an interception and a big pass break up against the Cardinals. Toledo has plenty of other guys that can make plays like cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, defensive lineman Judge Culpepper, safety Nate Bauer and linebacker Dallas Gant to name a few. This deep Rockets defensive unit just needs to have some consistency to be able give the RedHawks a problem Saturday.

Miami outlook

Syndication: The Enquirer Carter Skaggs/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Like Toledo, Miami started the season with a loss on the road to a Power Five team and then proceeded to rattle off six-straight wins to set up Saturday’s big matchup. Also like the Rockets, they pulled out a gritty win on the road in a game where they didn’t play perfect football last week when they defeated Western Michigan. The Toledo matchup will be the first big test of the conference season for Chuck Martin’s group.

Brett Gabbert has been a leader for Miami all season. The fifth-year quarterback leads the MAC in passing yards with 1,455 and has 14 touchdowns to go along with it. When he has time to throw, he has looked very comfortable so it will be key for the offensive line that has allowed 14 sacks this year to hold strong against the Rockets pass rushers.

Top receiving threat Gage Larvadain is coming off a nice week grabbing five catches for 49 and two touchdowns and should be on the Rockets’ radar. Joe Wilkins and Cade McDonald have been the other two main pass-catchers this year for Gabbert.

Miami’s run game hasn’t been quite as good as Toledo’s, but still solid. Running back Rashad Amos leads the team with 366 yards. Backup back Kenny Tracy has a nice yards per carry average of 5.6.

The RedHawks defense is pass-rush fueled. They lead the conference in the sack department with 21. Defensive linemen Caiden Woullard (6) and Brian Ugwu (4.5), as well as linebacker Ty Wise (4) lead the team in that area. In the defensive back unit, cornerback Raion Strader has been a standout, racking up 30 total tackles and deflecting seven passes.

The one area of improvement for Miami’s defense is getting more takeaways as they have just five interceptions and one fumble recovery. The RedHawks have the personnel to create havoc on this side of the ball and getting a takeaway or two can help them win this tough matchup.

Game outlook

You couldn’t ask for a more exciting midseason MAC matchup.

The Rockets and RedHawks are both very balanced on both sides of the ball, which should create some fun battles between individual players.

The big names in this one are the quarterbacks but each team’s defense won’t allow anything easy. This one will go right down to the wire but the RedHawks pass rush can be the difference for them to pull out a narrow victory in front of their home crowd.

Prediction: Miami 23, Toledo 21