Streaking Toledo optimistic MAC title means much more


Mid-American Conference Toledo vs. Miami (Ohio) Saturday, Noon ET Ford Field Detroit, Michigan

Toledo hunts consecutive MAC titles and much more Saturday, where the Rockets’ 11-game win streak and coveted bowl game bids are on the line against 10-win Miami.

Beating the RedHawks for a second time in 42 days stands in the way of the Rockets reaching their stated season goals.

The Rockets (11-1) are unbeaten since dropping a 30-28 heartbreaker at Illinois – Toledo surrendered a 19-7 third-quarter lead — to start the 2023 season. They’re propelled by the No. 1 scoring offense in the MAC (35.3 points per game) and had 10 players on the All-MAC first team.

Toledo running back Peny Boone has 1,359 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, including eight 100-yard games this season.

The College Football Playoff committee listed Toledo as one of the teams in the running for a New Year’s Six bowl game entering the weekend. Hitting the bowl game jackpot would likely require other Group of 5 teams – No. 22 Tulane and No. 24 Liberty – to bust in their conference championship settings.

“We’ve done a lot of things here that no other team in the history of the school has done and we want to continue to add to that legacy,” Tulane coach Jason Candle said.

The RedHawks (10-2) led the conference in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and feature linebacker Matt Salopek, the conference defensive player of the year.

Miami fell behind Toledo 21-3 at halftime in the first meeting between the teams this season.

The RedHawks lost fifth-year quarterback Brett Gabbert to a season-ending leg injury in the fourth quarter.

Miami shut out Toledo in the second half, forcing punts on five of eight drives, and narrowly lost the Oct. 21 matchup, 21-17.

A 10-win team for the first time since 2010, the RedHawks survived a rough road to reach Detroit. They are one of only two teams in the FBS (James Madison) with six road wins in the regular season. Injuries, and overcoming them, was a theme Miami coach Chuck Martin has embraced.

“You look back and say you beat a Power 5 second year in a row, beat Cincinnati, get the Victory Bell, you lose Brett … wasn’t easy,” Martin said. “Now you’ve got a chance to go play for a MAC championship. Not a lot to complain about.”

Miami lost to Toledo in the only meeting between the teams in the MAC championship game in 2004.