University of Toledo football coach Gary Pinkel and player Michael Schaefer celebrate after the Rockets upset Penn State in 2000. BLADE PHOTO
Where would a win Saturday rate in Toledo history?
With the Rockets headed to 14th-ranked Miami, here is one man’s list of the program’s top five all-time wins against power conference teams:
1. Sept. 2, 2000: Toledo 24, Penn State 6: For our money, this one endures as the highest-profile win in program history. The Rockets did not just beat powerhouse Penn State. They ran the Nittany Lions off their home field, with Chester Taylor (141 rushing yards) nearly outgaining Penn State (166 yards) by himself.
2. Sept. 20, 2003: Toledo 35, Pittsburgh 31: What a night at the Glass Bowl. Never mind the Panthers were ranked ninth in the nation. Or that Pitt wideout Larry Fitzgerald pulled in 12 catches for 201 yards. Or that the visitors opened a 10-point halftime lead. Bruce Gradkowski shepherded the Rockets back, with his last throw on a 461-yard passing night — a 9-yard touchdown toss to Lance Moore with 43 seconds left — bringing down the sold-out house.
3. Oct. 11, 2008: Toledo 13, Michigan 10: In a victory with more symbolism than oomph, the Rockets made their lone highlight in an otherwise dispiriting season an unforgettable one in stunning the equally disappointing Wolverines at the Big House.
4. Sept. 12, 2015: Toledo 16, Arkansas 12: The Rockets captured their first road win over a top-20 opponent — and cashed a $1 million check to boot.
5. Sept. 19, 1992: Toledo 33, Purdue 29: Toledo has since made a habit of beating big-time programs, but there was a time when such a feat was unthinkable. Consider this day in West Lafayette and the Rockets’ first win over a Big Ten opponent the line of demarcation.
Former University of Toledo football coaches Tom Amstutz and Gary Pinkel were among those honored as part of the All Century Team at halftime Saturday, September 16, 2017, at the University of Toledo Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth