At 5-0 and still a game away from reaching the "meat" of the conference schedule, it would be easy for the UC Bearcats to be brimming with confidence.
Some of that is good, too much (of anything) is not.
Just as I had concerns over the Miami University game, this Toledo contest is also perplexing.
First off, the Bearcats are a visitor. The scheduling puzzles me, but again, I'm not invited to those meetings.
Toledo's Glass Bowl has a listed capacity of just over 26,000. However, they list a 2001 game with Navy as having 36,852 there and this year's Bowling Green tilt drew 28,115. Other games with Coastal Carolina and Central Michigan have been 19,000 and change.
None of this should matter as the Bearcats have played bigger opponents in bigger venues. On the other hand, it reminds me of the game in 2008 at Akron that UC barely won, 17-15.
It's the same formula. An opponent you should beat, but a game that realistically would mean far more to the Rockets than it would here.
For those more "experienced" Bearcats, you should want to drill Toledo as they took the second Motor City Bowl from you in 2001 at the old Pontiac Silverdome. The Bearcats blew a 13-3 halftime lead and were unsuccessful in trying to "eat clock" in the second half as running backs DeMarco McCleskey and Ray Jackson were held below 30 yards combined.
Meantime, future NFL back Chester Taylor ran all over UC for 190 yards and the Rockets rallied to sent the Bearcats back to the Marriott in Troy (Michigan) with a second consecutive Motor City "L".
I doubt that sparks the current players who were 7-10 years of age at that point, but some of you paid good money for the drive up and probably pounded your dashboard on the way home.
This game on Oct. 20 is far from a pushover. If you overlook Toledo, you'll find yourself pounding dashboards and anything in sight. The Rockets are 6-1 with their only loss on the road in overtime to Arizona.
The Mid-American Conference would take enormous pride in knocking off a Big East school.
Hopefully, the second half of the Fordham game and the Miami Redhawk rout will be what you see in the Glass Bowl. I do see a lot of points being scored however it does turn out.
WHAT: That would be the UC/Toledo tilt on Oct. 20.
WHERE: The aforementioned Glass Bowl (which at one time was an actual bowl game UC won in 1949, 33-13)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
TUBE: The ever popular ESPN3 coming to a laptop near you.
SERIES: UC leads 4-2
LAST TIME: Toledo beat UC 23-16 in the Motor City Bowl Dec. 29, 2001.
UC offense vs. Toledo defense
Well, we know the Bearcat lads can score when they want. I'm still a little concerned over over-thrown and under-thrown passes, but Munchie Legaux still has a knack for hitting a big play when needed. I'm particularly fond of throwing to Travis Kelce whose 78-yard ramble in the last game was nearly Brent Celek-esque. I would like to see Kenbrell Thompkins more involved (unless he's just being taken out by the defense). Running-wise, there's no complaints as George Winn and Ralph David Abernathy IV continue to have big gains when needed.
Clearly, UC will score as Toledo's last two wins over Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan involved giving up 35 and 47 points, respectively. As an aside, EMU was 0-6 and rang up that many. The Rockets top tackler is linebacker Dan Molls. Their top sack man is Jayrone Elliott at defensive end.
Whatcha got? I say UC should not have any problem lighting up the scoreboard so long as they "chin the ball".
UC defense vs. Toledo offense
This is an honest concern. The Rockets are averaging about 44 points in their last four contests, including 50 against CMU and 52 against EMU. They will move the football and 6-foot-4 quarterback Terrance Owens out of Cleveland Glenville chucked it for over 400 yards last week. On the other hand, UC's seen back-to-back weeks where the quarterbacks threw for boatloads of yards between the 20s and still lost substantially. On the ground, Toledo's David Fluellen racked up 188 yards in the last game and has nearly 800 for the year. An obvious key would be putting the hammer down on Fluellen to make the Rockets one-dimensional. Their best receiver is 5-foot-9 Bernard Reedy who doubles as a kick/punt returner and is dangerous. 6-foot-4 Alonzo Russell is also a serious target.
Hmmm? I liked some of UC's secondary play last week with Drew Frey out. I don't know his status for this one, but he would definitely help with his size. On the other hand, I'm seeing good things from Cam Cheatham, Devin Drane and I liked what I saw of freshman Kevin Brown. I'm not a fan of some of the "cushions" I see in coverage, but I'll trust the defensive coaches on the how and whys. Toledo will get their points, but anything under 30 will equate to a Bearcat win.
Tony Miliano missed a field goal against Fordham, putting him 6-9. Toledo's Jeremiah Detmer is 13-18. What that means to me is he merely is getting more chances. With UC often scoring touchdowns, Miliano hasn't had the opportunities to improve. However, a kick on the road can be crucial as UC found out in 2008 at Akron with Jake Rogers. Punting-wise, Patrick O'Donnell has been top notch and his kickoffs are rarely returned. The key vs. Toledo is keeping it away from the dangerous Bernard Reedy - just as Toledo probably has their eyes on RDA IV.
Who? At home, I tend to lean toward the folks used to the stadium and atmosphere. Doesn't mean they're any better, just one of those intangibles.
(Speaking of) Intangibles
Again, the Rockets are a high-powered offense with a winning mentality playing at home. That's not a favorable atmosphere. As much as the players and everyone want to focus on Louisville on Oct. 26, this one comes first. The defense has given up chunk yards to Zac Dysert of Miami and Ryan Higgins of Fordham in consecutive weeks. You don't want to make that a trend. There's a fair amount of Cincinnati talent on Toledo's roster, much like Miami's and some of these kids may take great pride in beating a school that might not have recruited them. This is far from a throwaway game and two consistent, complete halves will need to be played. That's where the Coach Butch Jones pep-talk comes in and he's gotten the point across thus far.