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Analyzing the opponents: Fordham and Toledo

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With Camp Higher Ground only three weeks away and the opener against Pitt approaching on the horizon, the time is now to take a closer look at the teams that will be gracing the 2012 UC football schedule. 

We'll analyze their returning players and the narrative following the teams as they approach the year. Also, I'll rank the opponents from 1-11 and delve into the storylines for each week. Today, we roll into the middle of the season with Fordham and Toledo.


Fordham Rams (FCS)
Location: Nippert Stadium
Date: Oct. 13
Time: TBA
TV: TBA
Last year: The Rams went 1-10. Only one of the losses was within 15 points. I could expound, but considering those stats it seems unnecessary.
Player to watch: Punter Patrick Murray. Not the best news when your punter is your top player, but that's not an indictment on Murray. He averaged 44.1 yards per boot last year and was named second team FCS All-American this preseason.
Stat of note: Fordham has not played a team from a current BCS conference since 1969 against LSU. For the record, they tied, 7-7.
Why they're dangerous: They will be hungry. Going 43 years without playing a BCS opponent does that. This will be the biggest stage they play on all season. 
Media storyline: More time to analyze the depth of the squad.
Schedule Rank: 12. Sorry, Rams. It's true.

Toledo Rockets
Location: Toledo
Date: Oct. 20
Time: TBA
TV: ESPNU/ESPN3
Offensive Starters: 4/11
Defensive Starters: 4/11
Specialists: 1/2
Last year: Toledo (9-4, 7-1) broke onto the national scene out of the MAC after nearly toppling Ohio State in The Horseshoe. Toss in a competitive game against Boise State that spiraled out of control late and a win against Air Force in the Military Bowl and the Rockets were BCS caliber. How would they have done in the Big East? Well, they were hosed out of a win on an extra-point replay debacle at Syracuse and trounced Temple by 23.
Player to watch: QB Terrance Owens. The Rockets QB received a surprising call June 6: He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round. He hadn't played baseball since his freshman year of high school. That's how much people believe in his athletic ability. Stopping Owens will be the key for the Bearcats to enjoy their bus ride down I-75.
Stat of note: Nobody in the country boasts fewer returning starters/specialists than the Rockets (9/24). 
Why they're dangerous: Owens is back from last year's ninth-ranked offense along with Lombardi Watch List lineman Zac Kerin. This team should still be able to rack up the points. Playing in Toledo, this will be far from a pushover. If only Eric Page didn't decide to bolt for the NFL early without being drafted the Rockets would have caused a serious concern for the UC DBs.
Media storyline: One final tune-up before the bulk of the Big East schedule arrives. Is this team ready?
Schedule Rank: 10. If Page returned Toledo would be higher on the list, but without him they lack the dangerous outside threat for Owens to match up with.

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