Arkansas State (1-2) at Toledo (2-0)
Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio, 6 p.m.
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports. TV: ESPN3 and ESPN College Extra.
Series Record: Toledo leads 3-0.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
It is a non-conference game but a big one. Yes there is the fact that Toledo defeated the University of Arkansas two weeks ago so some in-state bragging rights are at stake but this is a game against a good opponent from a peer conference. It is not a situation to get even since when these two played in January it was in a bowl game, but the Red Wolves no doubt have motivation based upon that game. The Rockets are 2-0 and on the cusp of making the Top 25. The Red Wolves are looking to get back to the breakeven mark and built some momentum going into next week’s Sun Belt opener vs. Idaho.
It is hard to figure out the key matchups because we don’t know if some key players will be able to participate. Arkansas State has said all week they expect Sr QB Fredi Knighten to be back but we don’t know for sure. He has a pulled groin and is a player who needs his legs to be special. For Toledo Sr RB Kareem Hunt, who had one of his two 200-yard games against the Red Wolves in the GoDaddy, has been slowed by a hamstring. He is a big back and the Rockets’ best RB but they also start conference play next week. That being said will look at line play. Is the A-State rebuilt defensive front significantly better than what the team showed in the GoDaddy? And can the Red Wolves’ defensive front put pressure on Toledo QB Phillip Ely, who started his career at Alabama.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: The Red Wolves’ offensive line. We said that last week and we are going to stick with it again. We are not sure how effective Knighten will be if he can go. And if he can’t protection for RS Freshman James Tabary is vital. The unit, which was only 6 players last week, will have some reinforcements back this week to provide some depth.
Toledo: Assuming Hunt can’t go will take a look at senior quarterback Phillip Ely. His passing numbers have not been overwhelming but he does not throw interceptions and does not get sack thanks to a quick release. Iowa State led the Big Eight in sacks and could not get to him despite operating behind a rebuild offensive line.
FACTS & FIGURES
Toledo comes into this one with all kinds of momentum. They are on the cusp of the Top 25 after opening with victories over Arkansas and Iowa State. The key to their success is the Red Zone play. When they get there the Rockets put up points, scoring 7 of 9 times. When the other team gets there they have a hard time getting scoring, just 1 of 9 on touchdowns and 3 of 9 getting any points. In fact, the Rockets’ numbers don’t match their record. They have been significantly out-gained in their first two games but they are 2-0. Toledo was the preseason pick of the media to win the MAC West Division title and the overall championship but was picked second in its division by the league’s coaches. Toledo coach Matt Campbell is the third youngest head coach in FBS. He is in his fourth season as the Rockets’ head coach. A college defensive lineman, he has coached offensive line and running game coordinator in his career. DL Trent Voss, a Lombardi Award nominee, had a career game against the Red Wolves in the GoDaddy, making 10 tackles, 4 of the for losses. Arkansas outgained the Rockets 412-237 and Iowa State out-gained them 481-309. Safety Chaz Whittaker had two safeties in the cancelled game against Stoney Brook.
Blake Anderson: This will be a great barometer of where we are. It is a quality opponent and could win a lot of conferences. It is a great gauge of where we need to be.
Our guys are very focused on what is up ahead. I saw that when we talked after the game the other night. We moved from congrats on the win to we have a challenge ahead of us. You could see in their faces. They are very aware of what is coming up, who we are going against and they have not forgotten the bowl game.