NCAA Wednesday Night Football: Toledo/Western Michigan Preview

by Alec McMordie

Midweek Mid-American Conference action continues on Wednesday with a rivalry game between MAC West division powers on ESPN at 8 PM ET.

Toledo began their season last Wednesday with a 38-3 win at home over Bowling Green as a 24-point favorite. Senior Eli Peters answered some questions about the quarterback position by completing 20 of his 32 passes for 214 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. That was Peters’ eleventh career start in the last three seasons after he played in five games last year where passed for 828 yards with five touchdowns splitting time with the now-graduated Mitchell Guadagni.

The Rockets finished 6-6 last season, but they were the only bowl-eligible team in the FBS with at least six victories that did to get invited to a bowl game. The last time Toledo did not play in a postseason bowl game was 2013. After a 4-1 start, the Rockets only won two of their final seven games, with those victories eked out after one opponent missed a late field goal and the other foe missing a late two-point conversion attempt. Head coach Jason Candle cleaned house in the offseason preparing for his fifth-year with the program by hiring Mike Hallett and Robert Weiner as his new co-offensive coordinators along with Vince Kehres as his new defensive coordinator.

Toledo returned four starters for this new coaching staff. The offense has eight starters back, including junior running back Bryant Koback, who rushed for 74 yards. Senior running back Shakif Seymour added to his 2008 career rushing yards with the program by adding another 93 yards on the ground. Led by this duo, the Rockets averaged 224.5 rushing yards-per-game last season. The Toledo defense limited the Falcons to just 267 yards. Seven starters are back from the unit that was 123rd in the nation by allowing 475.3 total yards-per-game. With a new coordinator along with four of the six tacklers returned from last year, hopes are high that the Rockets will be much better on that side of the football.

Western Michigan began their season last Wednesday with a 58-13 win at Akron as a 19.5-point favorite. Sophomore Kaleb Eleby made his debut with the Broncos as their starting quarterback by completing 12 of 16 passes for 262 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Eleby played in five games in 2018, including against the Rockets, where he passed for 293 yards. He redshirted last year with Jon Wassink embarking on his Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year senior season under center.

Head coach Tim Lester led Western Michigan to their sixth straight bowl-eligible season last year. The Broncos’ 23-20 loss to Western Kentucky in the First Responder Bowl ended their season with a 7-6 record. Eleven starters returned from that group. Western Michigan held the Zips to only 256 total yards last week, but their ability to stop the run is a concern for this contest. The Broncos gave up 130 rushing yards to an Akron offense that averaged only 47.6 rushing yards-per-game last year. Western Michigan did register seven tackles-for-loss against the Zips.

Toledo won the meeting between these two teams last season at home in the Glass Bowl with their 31-24 victory as a 1.5-point favorite on October 5th. BookMaker lists Western Michigan as a 2-point home favorite with the total set at 58. ESPN has the broadcast at 8 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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