It seemed like the Toledo Rockets were going to get upset at home last Saturday, as they were down 14-3 early in the second quarter. The New Hampshire Wildcats came into the Glass Bowl and hit the Rockets with a quick jab. But the Rockets responded, scoring 38 points in the second half. The defense tightened up also only allowing six points in the second half, and UT went on and won 54-20.
During the offseason head coach Matt Campbell and his staff had a tough decision to name a new starting quarterback, after long time single caller Terrance Owens graduated, it seemed like Campbell made a great pick choosing Phillip Ely,the Alabama transfer, to start the season. Ely went on a tear throwing for four touchdowns, with 337 passing yards, and only having six incompletions. But this week is a much tougher test for Ely. This week Ely has to make his calls against the No. 24 Missouri Tigers. Last week the Tigers' defense only allowed 18 points against South Dakota State, but during the game the Tigers' defense did give up 246 passing yards which will fit right into the Rockets' offensive scheme.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for many Tigers. Starting quarterback Maty Mauk is from Kenton, Ohio, which is 75 minutes south of Toledo, Head coach Gary Pinkel is from Akron, Ohio and played tight end at Kent State. Pinkel also was the head coach at Toledo for nine years (1991-2000). During his time at Toledo, Pinkel won 73 games including the famous undefeated season in 1995. The Tigers also have four assistant coaches who have coached at Toledo. Missouri's director of football operations of Missouri, Nick Otterbacher, played center for the Rockets during the 1998-2001 seasons.
But still, Missouri is the road team, and entering an inhospitable Glass Bowl on Saturday. The Rockets are 5-2 all-time against Top 25 teams at home, and this Toledo team seems as capable as any of improving that record.
To do so, the Toledo defense needs to keep it close all game or it will have no chance of pulling this upset. Last week Junior Sylvestre and Trent Voss led the team with nine tackles each. Last week vs. South Dakota State the Tigers had 19 first downs, 393 total yards, and no turnovers. It won't be possible to smother Missouri's offense, so for Sylvestre, Voss and the rest of the Toledo D to succeed, they'll need to confuse the Tigers on third down like the Jack Rabbits did last week. Maty Mauk and his offense struggled on third down going 3-11.
The game will be on ESPN on Saturday at noon, Toledo has declared it a "Beat Missou, wear blue" game, and will be having a best sign contest during the game. Hopefully a few Hunter Pence signs make it on ESPN.
Will it be a great homecoming for Pinkel, Mauk and the others? Or will Toledo make it to 2-0 and claim the biggest upset of the year so far?