1. Plenty of ammo. Toledo’s season appeared on the brink when ace running back David Fluellen (Lockport) left injured in the first quarter of the Oct. 26 game at Bowling Green. The Rockets couldn’t survive another Mid-American Conference loss and one of the nation’s leading rushers was on the sidelines. They never missed a beat. Freshman Kareem Hunt ran for 114 yards and a TD, QB Terrance Owens threw for the winning score in the final two minutes and Toledo remained relevant in the MAC West. UB will face challenges whether Fluellen plays or not. Hunt has topped 100 yards in three straight games. Senior Owens is a multi-threat and ultra-elusive — he’s been sacked just four times, fewest in the country. Senior wide receiver Bernard Reedy has a team-high 52 possessions and also excels in the return game. Complementing him is 44-catch sophomore WR Alonzo Russell. UB’s “D” hasn’t faced an offense this quick and versatile since Baylor. Rockets averaging 33.2 points.
2. Front and center. UB’s offensive line adjusted as the Ohio U. game wore on and did excellent work against a talented front. The Bulls unit will get another stern test against Toledo. The Rockets have a star in junior LB Junior Sylvestre, who ranks third in the MAC and 16th nationally at 10.2 tackles a game. Add in his 8.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three recoveries and it’s apparent he means to Toledo what Khalil Mack means to UB. There’s more. Junior DE Jayrone Elliott tops the conference with four forced fumbles and ranks second in TFL (10.5) and sacks (seven).
3. League of their own. Toledo’s line is key to the offense. UB’s defense has been the catalyst for the Bulls’ seven-game winning streak. What transpires in that matchup will go a long way toward determining tonight’s outcome. What’s been most impressive about UB’s ‘D’ — besides Khalil Mack — is its depth. Freshmen Brandon Crawford and Jarrett Franklin have stepped right in when called, with Franklin producing a team-high 10 tackles against Ohio. Defensive coordinator Lou Tepper has had his unit extremely well prepared, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for Toledo to pull out the Baylor game tape looking for ways to solve a defense that’s kept the opposition out of the end zone in three of the last four games.
4. Bo-dacious. UB will want to own the clock tonight and that means moving it on the ground. Bo Oliver has rushed for at least 128 yards in every MAC game, and Missouri, Central Michigan, Navy moved the ball against Toledo on the ground. Oliver’s running better than ever. Fully expect that Oliver could be in for another 30-carry game unless UB is forced to open things up. Quarterback Joe Licata has done well accessing and making the necessary checks. If Rockets stop the run he’ll have to make the short throws to keep the chains moving.
5. Extra points. Toledo holds a 6-3 edge in series after last year’s 25-20 win in Buffalo. … Second-year Toledo head Coach Matt Campbell is signed through the 2017 season. The Rockets are 9-1 at home under Campbell with lone loss to Ball State last season. … UB will be without RB James Potts (shoulder). RB Devin Campbell (back) is probable.
Outlook: Licata gives Bulls aerial dimension they lacked in last year’s loss to Rockets. UB, 28-27.