With their fourth bowl game in four years, the Red Wolves survived a season where there three-straight conference championship streak ended, largely in part to 14 season-ending injuries and several other key players missed game time with injuries. Toledo comes in with a MAC West co-championship and a more impressive 8-4 record.
It will be a game that matches the Rockets’ running attack against the Red Wolves’ varied offense.
The Rockets (8-4)
Schedule: New Hampshire 54-20; Missouri, L 49-24; at Cincinnati, L 58-34; Ball State, 34-23; Central Michigan, 42-28; at W Michigan 20-19 OT; at Iowa State, L37-30; UMass, 42-35; at Kent State 30-20; at N Illinois, L27-24; Bowling Green, 27-20; at E Michigan, 52-16.
Three of the four losses have come against schools from Power-5 leagues and the other to traditional MAC power Northern Illinois. The Rockets do have a victory over MAC East division champ Bowling Green 27-20.
Toledo has won four of its last five, the only loss one a 27-24 decision to Northern Illinois.
The Rockets fit the mold of most MAC teams, big, strong physical teams that likes the running game. Sophomore running back Kareem Hunt has 1,360 yards this season, the seventh best in school history and the best ever by a sophomore. Freshman RB Terry Swanson gained 732 yards in a backup role.
The Rockets have seen their share of injuries as well and have played four quarterbacks this season, including wide receiver Dwight Macon, who ran things against UNI. Still they were the top offensive team in the MAC, averaging 486 yards and 34.4 points per game. Sophomore Logan Woodside is 5-2 as the QB starter. Toledo has another weapon in PK Jeremiah Detmer is the most accurate kicker in MAC history at 84.4 percent on field goals.
Toledo allowed 29.3 points per game.
While there have been times when the Red Wolves have struggled this season, in part because of a depleted defensive front that was not able to stop the running game in losses to Texas State, UL-Lafayette and Appalachian State. Coach Blake Anderson returned 3 defensive players this week who were out for the regular season and the A-State coach said the team is as healthy as it has been since September.
The Red Wolves averaged 36.1 points per game and 477 yards per game on offense. A-State defense allowed 27.8 points per contest.
Red Wolves’ QB Fredi Knighten, who led the league in total offense, was named first-team All-Sun Belt and junior RB Michael Gordon (1,064 ypg) was a second-team all-SBC pick.
LB Qushaun Lee, a two-time GoDaddy defensive MVP, was first team all-conference along with DB Artez Brown.
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