Consistency has been the hallmark of The University of Toledo football program, and Head Coach Jason Candle is counting on that to continue in 2019 as his team battles for a Mid-American Conference title this fall.
The Rockets, who are one of only nine Football Bowl Subdivision teams to have a winning record in each of the past nine years, were chosen by the media to win the MAC West Division and make an appearance in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit Dec. 7.
A total of 13 returning starters are among the 49 letterwinners back from last season’s squad — six on offense, five on defense and two special teams players. Among those returning this year are 2018 All-MAC tight end Reggie Gilliam, leading rusher Bryant Koback, and senior defensive leaders Kahlil Robinson and Jordan Fisher.
The Rockets will open their season at Kentucky Saturday, Aug. 31, at noon. That contest will be televised on the SEC Network.
After a bye week, UToledo will host another Kentucky school, Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Glass Bowl.
Candle is excited for the season to begin.
“This team is fun to coach,” Candle, who is in his fourth year at the helm, said. “It’s a good group of guys to be around. They really love what they do, and they are passionate about it. If you can handle that, then the locker room becomes a player-driven locker room and you have a real chance.”
The Rockets were 7-6 last season and earned a trip to the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. Candle said while his team is not focused on looking backward, they are motivated to improve upon that record.
“Last season is over. The past is the past,” said Candle, who is 28-13 as Toledo’s head coach. “But we’re foolish if we can’t learn from it. A year ago, we were coming off an 11-3 season, and we were trying to learn from those three losses. It’s no different this year.”
After the home-opener, the Rockets travel to Fort Collins to play Colorado State Saturday, Sept. 21, before returning to the Glass Bowl to host Brigham Young University Saturday, Sept. 28.
Conference play starts Homecoming weekend when Western Michigan visits for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Oct. 5.
Toledo will play at Bowling Green Saturday, Oct. 12, and at Ball State Saturday, Oct. 19, before returning home for three games: Eastern Michigan Saturday, Oct. 26; Kent State Tuesday, Nov. 5; and Northern Illinois Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The Rockets will close out the 2019 season on the road at Buffalo Wednesday, Nov. 20, and at Central Michigan Friday, Nov. 29.
Season and single-game tickets are on sale at the UToledo Athletic Ticket Office in the Sullivan Athletic Complex in Savage Arena, online at the Toledo Football Central website, and by phone at 419.530.GOLD (4653). Faculty and staff can buy tickets half off with ID, and UToledo students are admitted free with ID.