When Toledo travels to Bowling Green Tuesday, Nov. 17, the stakes could not be higher for the Rockets. UT will face its biggest rival on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. with its quest for a Mid-American Conference title basically on the line.
Toledo (8-1, 5-1 MAC) is locked in a three-way tie for first place with Northern Illinois and Western Michigan in the MAC West. The Rockets must win both of their final two games and hope that NIU loses a game in its final two contests in order to earn a trip to the MAC Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit Dec. 4.UT and WMU play in the regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 27, in the Glass Bowl.
The Rockets kept pace in the MAC West race with a 28-23 victory over Central Michigan Nov. 10. The Rockets jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half and came up with an interception at midfield with five seconds left to snuff out CMU’s final rally.
Bowling Green (8-2, 6-0 MAC) already has punched its ticket to Detroit by virtue of clinching the MAC East Division title with a 41-27 win at WMU Wednesday night. BGSU has a high-powered offense that leads the nation in passing offense and is third in total offense. The Falcons, who are averaging 45.4 points per game, are led by senior quarterback Matt Johnson, who leads the country in both passing yards (3,955) and TD passes (36). Johnson has four receivers with at least 48 receptions this season — sophomore Roger Lewis (69), junior Gehrig Dieter (58), junior Ronnie Moore (55) and senior Ryan Burbrink (48).
Toledo is 11-1 in its last 12 games dating back to the final three games of the 2014 season. UT ranks No. 1 in the MAC in scoring defense (18.8) and rushing offense (216.2).
The Rockets did not allow a sack vs. CMU, the eighth time this season UT has been perfect in protecting its QB. The Rockets allowed their first two sacks of the season vs. NIU Nov. 3, snapping a streak of 261 passing attempts without a sack.
Junior Kareem Hunt rushed for 113 yards vs. CMU, marking his second straight game and 18th career game over the century mark. That effort made him the sixth Rocket to top the 3,000-yard career rushing mark. He has 3,009 yards on the ground to rank sixth in UT history. He is 20 yards behind No. 5 Jalen Parmelee (2004-07) who has 3,119 yards.
Going into the 80th meeting with Bowling Green, Toledo trails the series with the Falcons, 39-36-4, but has won five straight games in the rivalry, the longest winning streak for UT in the series.
Toledo has never relinquished the Battle of I-75 Trophy to Bowling Green. The trophy was officially awarded to the winner of the game for the first time in 2011 (28-21 Rocket win), but it was not completed in time for the game. UT has won the subsequent three games.