Rockets make the rank
For the first time since 2012, UT breaks top 25
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Toledo’s football team has jumped inside the Associated Press Top 25 this week for the first time since 2012 as the No. 24 team in the country. The Rockets improved to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference after their 24-10 road victory at Ball State on Saturday.
Toledo is 4-0 for the first time since 2001 when it opened up with a 5-0 mark before losing at Ball State.
Toledo jumped out of the gates this season with back-to-back wins over two Power 5 conference opponents — Arkansas 16-12 and Iowa State 30-23 OT — in consecutive weeks. UT is the third team in MAC history to do so.
UT had Arkansas State running in the wrong direction in their 37-7 shellacking at home. The Red Wolves were held to -14 rushing yards.
The following week the big guys up front controlled the line of scrimmage again holding Ball State to 26 rushing yards.
In the first four games, the Rockets’ opponents scored just one touchdown and three field goals in 13 chances inside the red zone. That ranks second-best in the nation behind Appalachian State (two scores in 11 chances).
The Rockets scoring defense of 13 points per game ranks best in the MAC.
“Our defense is one of the best in the country,” said senior defensive end Trent Voss. “I’ll stand by that; it’s exciting being out there playing.”
The front seven of UT matches up with any front seven in the country. The Rockets have the fifth-best run defense in the country, holding opponents to 80.5 yards per game.
The offense hasn’t been as great as the defense but is still holding its own. UT has averaged 27.7 points per game thus far and has showed signs of improvement and consistency each week.
“I was really proud of finishing the game with the ball in our hands,” said senior quarterback Phillip Ely. “Something we haven’t done in the last few games, where we were completely able to put the game away.”
Toledo has also received good play from freshman place kicker Jameson Vest. The rookie has made 8 of 10 field goals with a career-long of 44 yards.
The Rockets will challenge their seven-game win streak when they host Kent State on Saturday during homecoming at 3 p.m.
The Golden Flashes (2-3, 1-0 MAC) are fresh off a 20-14 win at home versus Miami (OH).
KSU enters Saturday’s game on a 10-game losing streak in the Glass City dating back to 1977.
Kent comes into Saturday’s game with the third-best rushing attack in the MAC, averaging 169.4 yards per game, playing into the hands of what Toledo does best. KSU also ranks last in total offense with 327 yards per game.
Toledo’s offense will be put to test as the Golden Flashes have the number-one defense in the MAC, only giving up an average of 252 yards to opposing offenses.
Running back Kareem Hunt’s status is up in the air for the game which would be an upgrade to an already prominent rushing attack. Sophomore Terry Swanson and Junior Damion Jones-Moore have picked up the slack for the injured Hunt combining for 462 yards and six touchdowns.
“We’re like the Justice League; everybody is a superhero when it comes down to it,” Swanson said after rushing for 139 yards on 24 carriers at Ball State.
Those backs will be running behind an offensive line that is proving they belong. After replacing five senior starters from last year, the UT o-line has yet to give up a sack in 140 passing attempts this season.
They are only one of two teams in the country that can say that. The other is the Air Force.
The key to the game will come down to which team plays best on third down. Kent State Leads the MAC in third-down defense with opponents converting just 25.6 percent of third-downs.
The Rocket’s have also been successful converting on 46.2 percent of third-downs.