YPSILANTI, Mich. — As the University of Toledo football team enters the Mid-American Conference portion of its schedule, junior quarterback Logan Woodside compared the eight conference games to an eight-game playoff.
“Going into conference play, it’s really kind of like an eight-game playoff,” Woodside said. “We have to play good each week and we can’t take anybody in the MAC lightly, because I think everybody is really leveled out over the years in the MAC and it’s a really good conference this year.”
The Rockets (3-1) open their conference schedule today with a trip to Rynearson Stadium to face much-improved Eastern Michigan (4-1).
“They’re a confident team,” UT coach Jason Candle said of the Eagles. “Watching them on videotape, they expect to play well and they are playing well. To go down to Bowling Green and win on their homecoming weekend, I think that’s a good victory. They have a couple wins that should gain them some confidence. Moving forward, they have a confident team and a veteran group of guys that have been through it. Their coaching staff has done a great job of getting them prepared each and every week and I don’t expect anything different this week.”
Eastern Michigan is coming off a 28-25 victory at Bowling Green and also has wins against Mississippi Valley State, Charlotte and Wyoming. The Eagles’ only loss is a 61-21 setback at Missouri.
“Eastern is a well-coached team and they have a lot of momentum going right now,” junior receiver Cody Thompson said. “They’ve got some weapons. They are disciplined and they are smart and they are not going to make mistakes. We just have to get our game plan ready. I know coach Candle and coach [Brian] Wright will get us right offensively.”
Coming off of an 1-11 season and an 0-8 mark in the MAC, the Eagles are off to their best start since 1995.
“They look a lot better and a lot more confident than they ever looked,” UT senior offensive lineman Mike Ebert said. “They are pretty deep on their defensive line so it will be a pretty good challenge for our o-line.”
Toledo cruised through its first three nonconference games, outscoring opponents 128-30 in the process. The Rockets then suffered a tough 55-53 loss at BYU eight days ago despite racking up 692 yards of total offense.
“They're so well-coached,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said of Toledo, “I think that they are a phenomenal football team. They are playing so well so early in the year. I know coach Candle has been there, but he’s hired a new staff. For them to continue to be getting better from year to year, I hope people recognize the job he is doing.”
After four nonconference games and coming off the tight loss at BYU, Toledo is looking forward to starting conference play.
“We are really excited to get into the MAC schedule,” Thompson said. “Out of conference games are nice, but there is nothing like some MAC competition.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
Toledo at Eastern Michigan
■ Time: 3 p.m.
■ Records: Toledo is 3-1, 0-0 MAC; Eastern Michigan is 4-1, 1-0 MAC
■ TV: BCSN/Time Warner Cable/ESPN3
■ Radio: 1370 AM
■ Series: Toledo leads 32-11
■ Favorite: Toledo by 18
■ Notes: Toledo has won nine straight in the series and is 15-1 since 1999. ... The Rockets are third in the nation on third down, converting 31 of 57 attempts (54.4 percent). ... UT is holding opponents to 11-of-57 on third-down tries (19.3 percent), also good for third in the nation. ... The Rockets hold a 2,383-1,341 edge in total offense over its first four opponents. ... Toledo allowed two sacks against BYU, the first sacks allowed this season. ... UT junior quarterback Logan Woodside leads the nation in pass efficiency (207.6), is fourth in TD passes (16) and fifth in passing yards (361.0). ... Junior receiver Cody Thompson leads the nation at 32.6 yards per catch. ... Eastern Michigan is 4-1 for the first time since 1995. ... The Eagles beat Bowling Green 28-25, its first win against the Falcons since 2008. ... EMU is third in the MAC in run defense, allowing 189 yards per game. ... The Eagles’ defense have forced 10 fumbles this season and recovered seven of them, good for first in the MAC and second in the nation. ... EMU has turned its 12 turnovers into 44 points.