FACTS & STATS: Site: Glass Bowl (26,248) — Toledo, Ohio. Television:
ESPN3.com, BCSN, ESPN GP. Home Record: Massachusetts 1-3, Toledo 3-1. Away
Record: Massachusetts 1-3, Toledo 1-2. Neutral Record: Massachusetts 0-0,
Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: Massachusetts 2-2, Toledo 3-0. Series Record:
Toledo leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets had a week off to contemplate their most recent
loss, which ended a three-game winning streak. Now they’ll return to action to
host the Massachusetts Minutemen in a Mid-American Conference battle at the
Glass Bowl Saturday.
A few weeks ago, UMass ended the then-nation’s longest losing streak (12
games) with the team’s first victory of the season. Now the Minutemen have won
two games in a row, coming off a 36-14 victory over Eastern Michigan, and will
seek a third against the last remaining team that is unbeaten in MAC play.
The Rockets have a 3-0 conference record, which they accrued during their
three-game win streak. The only two losses Toledo has suffered this season
have come against greater competition (Cincinnati and Iowa State), and with a
two- game road trip on the horizon the Rockets will attempt to get back in the
Massachusetts and Toledo have met three times on the football field, with the
Rockets holding a 3-1 all-time series advantage. These new conference rivals
haven’t clashed since the 1999 football season.
This is the first time since elevating to the FBS level that UMass has won two
games in a season, and both wins in the last two weeks have been dominant. The
Minutemen scored 30 points in the first half against Eastern Michigan, and
simply walked to victory over the weekend. Typically UMass quarterback Blake
Frohnapfel is at the center of the team’s offensive success, but last Saturday
it was running back Shadrach Abrokwah who took the reins. He rushed for a
game- high 135 yards and a blistering four touchdowns, while Frohnapfel took
the afternoon off (by his standards) and threw for 337 yards with no
Running the football has been an increased focus for the Minutemen, who are
now averaging 110.8 rushing ypg. Thanks to Abrokwah’s four scores and one more
from Lorenzo Woodley against EMU, UMass now has 12 rushing scores on the
season. Abrokwah leads the team with 67 carries – two more than Woodley – for
331 yards and six scores.
Frohnapfel has started all eight games for the Minutemen, and has increasingly
become more efficient and dangerous. The Marshall transfer has thrown for
2,483 yards (fifth in the FBS this season) and has 18 touchdown tosses against
six interceptions. His 310.4 passing ypg ranks 11th in the country for an
offense that has increased its point production to 30.2 ppg. Receivers Tajae
Sharpe (56 receptions, 890 yards) and Jean Sifrin (27 receptions, 359 yards)
each have four touchdown catches, while Rodney Mills tops the team with five
The Minutemen as a unit struggled earlier in the season, and allowed a winless
Miami-Ohio team to come back from a large second-half deficit to take the one-
point win. But since then, the UMass defense has stepped it up greatly, but
still has work to do. Massachusetts is surrendering 34.1 ppg and 450.6
offensive ypg to opponents through eight games, but has held its last two
challengers to a combined 31 points.
Jovan Santos-Knox (84 tackles) and Stanley Andre (79 tackles) are the team’s
leaders in the category for a unit that has just 10 sacks and one fumble
recovery on the year. The Minutemen must start forcing more turnovers in order
to be successful against offensive-minded teams like Toledo. Randall Jette (10
pass breakups, three interceptions) will be spying opposing quarterback Logan
Toledo’s second loss of the season (two weekends ago to Iowa State) was a
close one, but the Rockets came up short nonetheless, 37-30. The two strong
offensive teams were at it again, each racking up over 450 yards of total
offense in the contest. Woodside performed well, completing 22-of-36 pass
attempts, but only managed 189 yards through the air with a single touchdown.
That’s uncharacteristic for a team averaging 261.3 passing ypg.
What was characteristic for the Rockets in the loss was the strong rushing
attack the team employed against the Cyclones. Toledo racked up 236 yards on
the ground – 124 from running back Terry Swanson – including two scores (both
from Swanson). Even though star running back Kareem Hunt has missed the last
three games, the Rockets are still managing a 241.7 rushing ypg statistic, and
have outscored opponents on the ground, 17 rushing touchdowns to nine.
The only receiver that was effective in any way against Iowa State was Corey
Jones, who caught 12 passes for 118 yards. He leads the team this season with
48 receptions for 535 yards, adding a pair of scores to his resume, while
Alonzo Russell has a team-best six touchdown grabs. Woodside has been steady
since filling in for the injured Phillip Ely, completing 61.5 percent of his
passes for 1,264 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
While the Rockets have made a living this season outscoring opponents, the
defense has made sure to keep things relatively close. Toledo averages 34 ppg
on offense, but gives up 33.4 ppg to opponents through the first six games of
the season, and surrenders 443.1 offensive ypg to those challengers as well.
Only once this season have the Rockets held a team under 20 points (a 20-19
overtime win against Western Michigan). Going against a strong UMass offense
this weekend, the defense may want to start stepping up its game.
Linebacker Junior Sylvestre leads the team in tackles with 63, while fellow
linebacker Trent Voss has been a pest in opponents’ backfield, racking up nine
tackles for loss with four sacks – both team highs. But the Rockets are
struggling to create turnovers, having only registered four interceptions and
one fumble recovery for four turnovers gained (tied for 119th in the country).
Frohnapfel has cut down his interceptions in recent weeks, so Toledo may be in
a bit of turnover trouble again this weekend.
Although the Rockets aren’t playing as well as they should be on the defensive
side of the ball, the team is still pulling off wins – especially in
conference play – by using a thunderous offense to find the end zone. UMass
hasn’t played particularly well on the road, but this has been a different
team in the past few weeks. Expect a high-scoring affair, but with the
homefield advantage, the edge will go to the conference-leading Rockets.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 35, UMass 27