By Don Phillips
#20 Toledo (7-1, 4-1 MAC) vs. Central Michigan (5-4, 4-1 MAC) Tuesday, Nov. 10 • 8:00 p.m. Kelly/Shorts Stadium • Mount Pleasant, MI • ESPN2
Toledo leads the series with CMU, 22-18-3. It has been a series filled with streaks of dominance by one side or the other. The Rockets have won five straight games in the series, including a 42-28 win in the Glass Bowl last year. From 2005-09, CMU won five straight. UT won 10 consecutive battles from 1995-2004.
Toledo is 9-12-1 all-time in games played in Mount Pleasant, including wins in 2011 and 2013.
Toledo is 7-1 following its 32-27 loss to Northern Illinois on Nov. 3. Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois snapped a 10-game Rocket winning streak dating back to the final three games of the 2014 season.
Toledo is ranked No. 20 in the latest AP media poll with 366 total points and No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll with 396 points. The Rockets have not been ranked this high since 1997 when they ranked No. 18 in the AP poll. The all-time highest ranking for Toledo came in 1970 when UT was No. 12 in the final AP poll.
Toledo’s 7-0 start was its best since 1997 when it opened up with an 8-0 mark. Despite the loss to NIU, Toledo is 36-9 in MAC games since 2010. UT ranks No. 1 in the MAC in scoring defense (18.2).
The Rockets rank No. 2 in the nation in red-zone defense, holding opponents to just 12-of-23 (52.2%) inside the 20-yard line. Of those 23 chances, Toledo’s opponents have been held to six touchdowns and six field goals.
Toledo entered the season with an offensive line that had a combined three career starts. Nevertheless, the line has gelled quickly, as UT has allowed just two sacks in 286 passing attempts this season. That ranks second in the nation behind Air Force, which has not allowed a sack this season.
Toledo’s string of not allowing a sack this season was snapped after 261 attempts when NIU came up with two sacks vs. UT on Nov. 3.
CMU has won the time of possession battle in seven of its nine games this year and in the two games it didn’t win the category, the two teams were separated by less than two minutes. It ranks first in the MAC and 10th nationally in the category with a mark of 33:16. CMU has also tallied 187 first downs this year compared to allowing just 149.
The Chippewas lead the MAC and rank eighth nationally in red zone offense. CMU has scored on 35-of-37 red zone opportunities, a mark of 94.6 percent. It has scored 25 touchdowns and Brian Eavey is a 10-for-10 on field goal attempts.
Central Michigan’s ability to convert on third-and-long has been an important part of its success this season. CMU has gotten a first down on a third-and-10+ 18 times this year on 48 opportunities. The Chippewas only converted 11 times out of 39 attempts all of last season. CMU has eight plays for 20+ yards on third and long this season compared to just two last year. The Chippewas rank fifth in the MAC in third-down conversion (44 percent).
Central Michigan led the Mid-American Conference in total defense last year for the first time since 1984 and has been strong again this year, leading the MAC and ranking 20th nationally (317.2). The Chippewas also lead the league and are 21st nationally in passing yards allowed (182.1). Central Michigan allowed 355.5 yards per game last year and was second in the league in rushing defense (122.9).
CMU has been shutting down opposing wide receivers this season. Other than WMU’s Daniel Braverman gaining 137 yards versus CMU, no other opposing receiver has passed the 100-yard mark versus the Chippewas this year. CMU has also only allowed two 100-yard rushers, Joel Bouagnon of NIU (104) and Jarvion Franklin of WMU (127).
• Chippewas are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games.
• Chippewas are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
• Chippewas are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
• Chippewas are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games on fieldturf.
• Chippewas are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Chippewas are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
• Chippewas are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games in November.
• Chippewas are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Selection: Central Michigan +4