1999 Marshall vs 2001 Toledo, A Comparison

If some day down the road a time machine were invented that could bring together football teams from the past and present into a virtual football stadium, what teams would college football fans like to pit against each other? Perhaps one of the great Oklahoma teams versus a Bear Bryant Alabama team, or maybe even Notre Dame of the 22-year Knute Rockne era?

Perhaps someone could find a team to compete with the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers. If you were to ask a Mid-American Conference football fan, they just might want to pit this year's Toledo squad versus the 13-0 Marshall Thundering Herd of 1999.

The Rockets have played very well so far this season, but the question remains if this team can match up to the Herd squad that is regarded as the MAC's greatest.

The talk has already started that this year's Rocket squad has what it takes to be a highly-ranked team in the polls, maybe even a top-10 team. A comparison of the two teams is the best way to see how these two teams size up, and what it will take for Toledo to write its name in the MAC history books.

Statistically:

2001 Toledo:

- You can see by the stats that Toledo is offensively more potent and balanced than Marshall, but we all remember the Herd's "Rodney Dangerfield" defense that stifled opposing offenses. Otherwise, the teams are comparable thus far, but the ratings tell the tale of a Marshall team that is the better of the two.
For a more in-depth look at these teams, we can compare the two seasons chronologically:

The preseason look:

-Much the same prognosis was given to the 2001 Toledo team that returned a committee of 15 starters and 55 lettermen, including their entire backfield. The Rockets have a Heisman hopeful running back in Chester Taylor, and return QB Tavares Bolden. Last year, Toledo beat opponents by an average of 36-11 and were plus twenty-two in the turnover department. The Rockets were to open the season with Minnesota of the Big 10 Conference.

At midseason:
- Marshall rallied to defeat Clemson 13-10 and had rolled through the remaining first half of the schedule, beating their first five opponents a total of 177-43, including a 34-0 shutout of Temple from the Big East. Marshall had a nationally televised date with the Toledo Rockets which they won, but struggled a few weeks later to wrestle a win from Kent State 28-16.

- Toledo has had a great deal of success in the first half of the season, pounding Minnesota 38-7 and coincidentally, beating Temple 33-7 in much the same manner Marshall did. They have beaten their first five opponents 212-103 and have no shutouts thus far. The Rockets were dominant until having to conduct a come-from-behind win against the Ohio Bobcats after Chester Taylor received a sprained ankle. The remainder of the schedule for the Rockets is very winnable, with a national TV date with Western Michigan and a trip to the Bowling Green Falcons.

When it was all said and done:

With only five games under its belt, the 2001 Toledo Rockets have a long way to go to reach that great team at the end of the last millenium. The players are responding well to new head coach Tom Amstutz and his spread offense and are playing as well as ever. If the Rockets can stay healthy, they have a chance to ascend to the heights that Marshall did, and maybe the only way we would ever know is in that great virtual football stadium of the future, but the talk is out there and the team will be scrutinized for the remainder of the season. Should the coaches and experts be correct, Toledo's road to perfection may go through Marshall in the MAC title game. The very program they draw so many comparisons to.
Should that game come to pass, maybe fans will be able to see the past, present, and future in the stadium on that December evening.

Stats courtesy of espn.com and inside players football


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