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No. 19 Toledo Rockets vs. Massachusetts Minutemen football: Talkin' sMACk

The Rockets fly into Amherst looking to continue their climb up the AP Rankings. Can they do it? James and Traini debate. (Kinda.)

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

James H. Jimenez: U WANNA FIGHT, BRO?

Michael Traini: Oh I thought this was going to be a civil discourse regarding an impending athletic contest...I was way off on that.

James: You can keep your pretty little muskets and powdered wigs at home in AM-HUHST. The future is now, and it involves Phillip Ely throwing some lasers to a plethora of rockets disguised as footballers. When YA BOY MATT CAMPBELL brings out someone who I'm pretty sure was in the band last year (Zach Yousey? Really?) to assist Alonzo Russell, Corey Jones, and Cody Thompson, who are pretty awesome receivers of their own rights themselves... that is the definition of a prolific offense. And against the sieve that is the 124th-ranked UMass pass defense? Good Diest Lord Almighty.

I'm roleplaying today. It's not everyday I get to be a Toledoan. (Is that the term? Idk.)

Traini: Minutemen didn't wear powdered wigs but the Tory aristocrats they drove out of this great country did (you're all welcome BTW). Come to think of it, those Tories are a lot like Toledo. People everywhere just assuming because of the position they're in they can't be beaten. Well the Minutemen had a lot of success the first time around driving them out of the Commonwealth, it's gonna be more of the same on Saturday. This is the same Toledo defense that almost let UMass beat them last year. Barely held on in a shootout. Am I supposed to be scared of Toledo's defense? Hardly. UMass has nothing to lose, and Toledo is looking past them. Hope you Rockets fans have your hankies ready, the tears are gonna be flowing come Saturday night.

James: Minutemen don't wear powdered wigs, eh? THEN EXPLAIN THIS. While I greatly appreciate the American history lesson, it ultimately doesn't matter because the Minutemen simply aren't going to be in a great position the second time around. You're correct in stating that Toledo and UMass had a shootout last season, but much like Lexington and Concord, that was more a result of two outstanding offenses than great defenses. Let's not be remiss in pointing out that Massachusetts is missing Jean Sifrin (who had 185 yards and a TD in last year's match) and that Blake Frohnaphel (1,794 yards, ten touchdowns, five interceptions) and Shadrack Abrokwah (9 rushes, 56 yards) are shadows of their 2014 selves.

The Toledo defense that you also denigrate is actually much improved form last season, currently ranking 34th in the nation in total defense. Their rush defense especially has been excellent, giving up only 121.2 rushing yards per game and 245.5 passing yards per game. The UMass offense hasn't been able to get the run going at all this year, averaging 98.8 yards per game over 164 attempts, which averages to 3.6 yards per rush. Toledo gives up ~13 points per game. Even if UMass has the 22nd best passing offense, no team is going to win being one-dimensional.

Traini: How dare you throw the Color Guard in my face, those men are patriots damn it! For shame...

Besides, it doesn't matter a bit. UMass is down, but they're hardly out. They've got guys loose at practice, they've got guys loving life, they've got guys like Sifrin's replacement at tight end Rodney Mills stating they're going to win on Saturday. That's the kind of swagger they need.

Toledo won't expect UMass to run the ball effectively, so when Marquis Young breaks a run like he did at Notre Dame they'll have no idea what to do. They won't expect a receiver outside of Tajae Sharpe to be a threat, so when Mills or Shakur Nesmith grabs a TD in the corner of the end zone at a critical juncture it'll be a killer.

This is tough spot for Toledo, and real trap game with their match-up against NIU on Tuesday, November 3rd looming large. They don't respect UMass, they're looking past UMass, and that's going to be their downfall. Quote me all the stats you want, it's played between the lines on Saturday.

James: Okay. I'll take you your Marquis Wilson and raise you the Cerebus that is the Toledo RB corps in Kareem Hunt, Damion Jones-Moore, and Terry Swanson. Each of those runners have had at least one, if not more, games of over 100 yards rushing. And Hunt hasn't even been that effective yet, yards wise.

As for taking out the stats, I'll pull out a different card. UMass is facing the pressure of becoming an FBS independent and will be playing in front of a crowd full of expectations after being heartbroken at Homecoming last week. Could you imagine the impact a second straight true home loss would have on the program moving forward? That is sure to be at least a little bit on the minds of the players as they face the #19 Rockets.

Toledo has easily dispatched their conference opponents so far, and I expect no different here.

BTW, roleplaying is hard work. I don't wanna be a Toledo fan anymore. What are you expecting to see and what is your final prediction?

Traini: I'm expecting UMass to come out and play loose. I'm expecting to see them play Toledo like they have absolutely nothing to lose. I'm expecting them to be energized from the opening kick til the final whistle. Because after the debacle I witnessed last week against a Kent State team they should have dispatched easily, where they did none of the aforementioned things, I expect them to start playing football like they care, and like they know what is on the line for the UMass football program this season.

UMass losing that game to Kent and then coming back and upsetting Toledo would be a very UMass thing to do. Shock the world, UMass 45, Toledo 42.

James: The whole playing footloose and fancyfree thing worked for EMU... for exactly one quarter. Ultimately, talent wins in a game like this. I see a similar fate for the Minutemen here. #19 Toledo 62-21 UMass