Toledo will attempt to stop Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush (10), who has thrown for 2,060 yards, and the Chippewas in today’s game at the Glass Bowl. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last week, the University of Toledo football team extended its win streak to seven games against rival Bowling Green. The Rockets will try to extend another series streak to seven games as they host Central Michigan today at the Glass Bowl.
Toledo (5-1, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) has won six straight against the Chippewas (5-2, 2-1), but this Central Michigan team already boasts road wins at Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois. UT coach Jason Candle said they will come to town with a great deal of confidence.
“You have to respect each and every opponent and you’ve got to understand what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are,” Candle said. “Their strengths are that they are a proven team and they are a veteran group that has gone on the road and won tough games. They are going to come in here and expect to win. Some of the teams we played early in the year, I don’t know if they totally expected to go in and win the game. This one will.”
Central Michigan is led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush. Rush already has thrown for 2,060 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. He is fourth in MAC in career passing yards. The Rockets will try to attack Rush and disrupt his timing.
“I think you have to find ways to be disruptive and get him uncomfortable,” Candle said. “I know that is easier said than done. He’s a veteran guy who has played a lot of football. He’s had some good games against us in his career as well. He’s one of the better quarterbacks across the country. You have to find ways to try to disrupt the rhythm and timing that he and his receivers have and try to get to him. That’s certainly a challenge.”
Sophomore pass rusher Ola Adeniyi said the defensive line has to be up for the test against a Chippewas offense that is third in the MAC in scoring offense (32.3 points per game) and fourth in the conference in total offense (441.0 yards per game).
“For him to be a great quarterback, he has to have a great offensive line protecting him,” Adeniyi said. “We just have to work on our pass rush and hopefully get better and hopefully get to the quarterback.”
On defense, Central Michigan allows 28.3 points per game and 349.9 total yards. The Chippewas have a conference-high 10 interceptions this season.
“They’re a solid football in all three phases,” Candle said. “They’re a big, physical football team that doesn’t beat themselves and forces you to play efficiently in all three phases. We’re certainly looking forward to a tremendous game against a very, very good opponent.”
Toledo comes into the game ranked second in the conference in scoring offense (43.0 points) and scoring defense (23.3). The Rockets’ 565.2 yards per game is best in the MAC.
In the first three games of the season, UT allowed just 10 points per game. Since then, the defense has given up 36.6 points per game, including 55 points in a loss at BYU and 35 points and 502 total yards at home last Saturday against Bowling Green.
Despite the recent defensive struggles, Central Michigan coach John Bonamego said it will take a strong all-around effort to beat Toledo.
“They are a complete football team and it’s going to take a complete effort on our part to go in there and try to get a win,” Bonamego said. “We have to play well in all three phases. I don’t think winning any two phases will be enough. I think we have to beat them all the way across the board to come out with a win. I expect it to be a very physical game. Any time we square off with the Rockets, it’s always a physical matchup.”
The Rockets will look to move on quickly from its dramatic win against the Falcons and will have to be ready to face a tough conference opponent.
“It’s our next game, so it’s our biggest game of the year,” senior offensive tackle Storm Norton said. “They look like a real physical defense and it will be a tough test for us and we are looking forward to it.”
Despite winning six straight in the series, Toledo knows the streak has little bearing on this game against Central Michigan.
“What we’ve done in past, that doesn’t really matter right now,” senior safety DeJuan Rogers said. “They are a different team and they are having a big year so far. So we just have to go in there and take it one step at a time. We can’t get caught up in anything else. It’s the MAC and we are trying to get that MAC championship.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN at TOLEDO
■ Time: Noon
■ Records: Central Michigan is 5-2, 2-1 in Mid-American Conference; Toledo is 5-1, 2-0
■ TV: BCSN/ESPN3
■ Radio: 1370 AM
■ Series: Toledo leads 23-18-2
■ Favorite: Toledo by 10
■ Notes: The Rockets have won six consecutive games in the series with Central Michigan. ... UT quarterback Logan Woodside leads the nation in touchdown passes with 24. ... Woodside’s TD passes this season already ranks 5th in school history for most in a season. ... Bruce Gradkowski set the record in 2003 with 29. ... Woodside has thrown at least four TDs in each of his past five games. ... Rockets tight end Michael Roberts’ nine TD catches is tied with Don Seymour (1973) for the most at the position in a season. ... Toledo has scored at least 30 points in nine consecutive games dating to last season. ... UT’s 565.2 yards per game ranks third in the country. ... The attendance at the Glass Bowl for the Bowling Green game was 30,147, the 11th largest crowd in stadium history. ... Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush ranks fourth all time in passing yards in the MAC with 11,414. ... He also is second all-time in passing yards at CMU. ... Central Michigan junior cornerback Amari Coleman leads the conference with three interceptions. ... The Chippewas lead the MAC in interceptions with 10. ... Receiver Corey Willis has caught a touchdown pass in six of the team’s seven games.
UT's Michael Roberts (80) celebrates after catching a pass from Logan Woodside (11) for a touchdown against Bowling Green State University at the Glass Bowl last Saturday. THE BLADE