No. 20 Rockets ready for conference division showdown with Northern Illinois

October 29, 2015 | Athletics, Events
By Paul Helgren

For the No. 20 Toledo Rockets, the first seven games of 2015 are in the books — a perfect 7-0. Now the toughest stretch of the season will determine whether the Rockets can finish off the season with a chance to make their mark in school history and claim their first Mid-American Conference title since 2004.

Toledo (7-0, 4-0 MAC) will host to Northern Illinois in the Glass Bowl Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

web ut-NIUIt is the first of four crucial Mid-American Conference games in November that will help determine which school will represent the West Division in the MAC Championship Game Friday, Dec. 4.

The Rockets will be looking to reverse recent history as they have lost five straight games to the Huskies, with each loss ultimately preventing UT from advancing to the league title game.

Toledo moved to 7-0 with a 51-35 victory at UMass Oct. 24, but it wasn’t easy. UT trailed the Minutemen, 28-10, at halftime, but came back with 38 straight points in the second half to cruise to victory. Senior quarterback Phillip Ely shook off three first-half interceptions, tossing five TDs to lead the second-half comeback.

The Rockets’ comeback from 18 points down to UMass ranks as the fifth-largest comeback in school history.

Despite giving up 35 points vs. UMass, UT ranks No. 1 in the MAC and No. 13 in the country in scoring defense (16.3).

Toledo has not allowed a sack in 253 passing attempts this season, one of only two teams in the country that can make that claim. The other is Air Force.

Toledo is ranked No. 20 in the latest AP media poll with 365 total points and No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll with 370 points.

Northern Illinois (5-3, 3-1 MAC) is coming off a 49-21 thrashing of Eastern Michigan Oct. 24. The Huskies have won three straight games following three consecutive close defeats to No. 1 Ohio State, Boston College and Central Michigan. NIU ranks third in the MAC in scoring offense (36.8) and is led by junior quarterback Drew Hare (1,819 passing yards, 13 TDs) and junior running back Joel Bouagnon, who leads the MAC with 861 rushing yards on 170 attempts.

In the past six seasons, Toledo has lost only eight MAC games (36-8). Five of those losses have come to Northern Illinois. UT has a 10-game winning streak dating back to the final three games of the 2014 season.

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