FACTS & STATS: Site: Waldo Stadium (30,200) — Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Toledo 2-1, Western Michigan 1-1. Away
Record: Toledo 0-1, Western Michigan 1-2. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, Western
Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 2-0, Western Michigan 0-0. Series
Record: Toledo leads, 41-28.
GAME NOTES: Having won two Mid-American Conference matchups in a row, the
Toledo Rockets will seek a third straight conference win when they hit the
road to take on the Western Michigan Broncos Saturday at Waldo Stadium.
Toledo has only played one away game this season – a 58-34 loss to Cincinnati.
The Rockets are familiar with the confines of the Glass Bowl, having gone 3-1
there this season. Toledo has won two games in a row against MAC programs by
double-digit margins, but have a tough test waiting in the young and very
talented Broncos in Kalamazoo.
Western Michigan is coming off a loss to Virginia Tech, 35-17, and has yet to
play a conference game this season. The Broncos, who won just a single game
last season, are encouraged by the amount of young impact players they have,
who have already helped to double their win total in 2014.
Toledo leads the all-time series with Western Michigan by a hefty 41-28
margin. The two sides met on the field last season, which saw Toledo come away
with a one-sided 47-20 victory in Ohio.
The Rockets took on Central Michigan last week and used a strong second-
quarter push to take a multiple touchdown lead that the Chippewas could not
overcome. It looked like the Rockets were in for a long season when transfer
quarterback Phillip Ely went down with a torn ACL in the opening weeks, but
reserve quarterback Logan Woodside has been brilliant in his place. Last week,
Woodside passed for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with one
interception in the win. He added six carries for 20 yards and a touchdown to
his stat line, which has been quite bulky since his emergence in the Rockets’
Toledo rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Central
Michigan, getting help from Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore. Leading
rusher Kareem Hunt didn’t play due to an ankle injury, and it’s uncertain
whether he’ll suit up this weekend. Should be play though, the star running
back will be a huge help to a team averaging 244.4 rushing ypg with 14
touchdowns on the ground in five games.
Woodside isn’t just a middle-of-the-road dual-threat quarterback. He’s shown
he’s very capable of doing damage in the passing game. Last week, he connected
with Corey Jones for 106 yards on eight receptions, and Alonzo Russell for
seven connections, 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Russell leads the team
with five scoring receptions this season.
Defensively, Toledo’s unit has gotten better since the beatings the team took
against Missouri and Cincinnati. In consecutive wins, the Rockets allowed 23
and 28 points to Ball State and Central Michigan, respectively. The team is
giving up an average of 35.6 ppg and 439.6 total ypg, but is limiting the
opposition to just 3.6 yards per carry.
Junior Sylvestre has 42 tackles to lead his team. The senior linebacker also
has 1.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.
The defense prides itself on being able to get pressure on opposing
quarterbacks, evidenced in the 11 sacks and 18 quarterback hurries through the
first five games. Lineman Orion Jones and linebacker Trent Voss each have a
team-high three sacks.
In the team’s two wins this season, Western Michigan has displayed offensive
superiority over Idaho and Murray State. The Broncos failed to get much going
against Virginia Tech last weekend, but that doesn’t take away from the early-
season brilliance of quarterback Zach Terrell and freshman running back
Franklin has absolutely proved he’s not just the best running back on the
Broncos’ roster at his young age, but he’s also one of the best in the
country. Franklin has registered 618 yards on the ground in four games (ranked
sixth in the FBS) and has 11 rushing touchdowns – ranked first in the country.
As an offense, WMU averages 213 ypg rushing and 444 total offensive ypg.
Terrell has been steady under center, throwing for 924 yards and six
touchdowns with three interceptions through the team’s first four games. His
top two receivers – Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis – have caught five of
Terrell’s six touchdown tosses and 677 yards. Last week against the Hokies,
Terrell was sacked a season-high five times, so offensive line play needs to
improve a bit.
While Western Michigan has visibly improved on the offensive side, the defense
has had a slow start trying to contain opponents. The Broncos are allowing the
opposing teams to score an average of 31.2 ppg and rack up 401.2 offensive
ypg. Against Virginia Tech, the Hokies were able to accumulate 308 rushing
yards and 486 total yards, while WMU could only manage 19 on the ground.
Grant DePalma has been a steady force for Western Michigan, as he enters this
contest leading the team with 39 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. In four
games, the Broncos have recorded just three interceptions and not a single
fumble recovery. WMU will have to force Woodside into making mistakes for the
Broncos to have a chance, since slowing down the lightning speed of Toledo’s
offense will be hard to do. Cornerback Ronald Zamort (leads the team with two
interceptions) will likely be tasked with keeping track of Russell.
Western Michigan’s improvement this season is already apparent, with the
extremely talented Franklin leading his team’s charge. The Broncos won’t
finish anywhere near the bottom of the MAC this season like they did a year
ago, but the defense needs to step up. This will be a tall order for the
Broncos, and if they can pull it off, it would truly be a momentum driver the
rest of the way. But it’s still early, and WMU has some things to figure out
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 42, Western Michigan 32