There will not be a clash of styles on a football field this season that goes beyond the brains vs brawn match-up of Toledo and Fresno State.
One school is a MAC powerhouse, with a flashy, speedy passing game and plenty of blocking, and a pass rush on defense. The other is a mean Mountain West program with a defense-oriented mentality.
Vegas is giving the Toledo Rockets 8 points, but the O/U reflects that the MAC side could control much of the action and push the favorite.
The game will be a “bailout” opportunity for gamblers (along with odds on other late CFB kickoffs) whose plays went wrong during the day, one of the latest scrums to kick off at 10:30 PM EST.
Who: Toledo Rockets at Fresno State Bulldogs
When: Saturday, September 29th, 10:30 PM EST
Where: Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA
Lines: Toledo (+8) at Fresno St. (-8) / O/U Total: (62)
The Toledo Rockets are a favorite to win the MAC West this season, and a 2-1 start and 51 points per game are a sign that the prediction is warranted. Their only loss came against Miami, and the game was competitive through 3 quarters before the Hurricanes pulled away.
Junior quarterback Mitchell Guadagni has already thrown for almost 700 yards in 3 games and has 9 touchdowns to only a single pick, an efficient start for a guy who is replacing record-setting QB Logan Woodside.
Head Coach Jason Candle has the offense humming, but the defense is struggling too often. Junior safety Khalil Robinson has been a force with 21 tackles, but characteristic spark is missing from the front-7. Toledo is giving up an average of 193 yards per game on the ground and have surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns, making them a vulnerable foil for Fresno State’s power game.
The Rockets are built to win shootouts more often than not. They can’t expect Guadagni to do everything if they want to be successful in out-of-conference play. The QB regretfully leads the team in rushing yards with 198. They need more production out of senior RB Art Thompkins and tailback Shakif Seymour.
Fresno State is feeling saucy after beating up on Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins last week 38-14:
The Bulldogs forced four turnovers, two picks by (LB Jeff) Allison and two fumbles that were recovered by (James) Bailey and defensive tackle Patrick Belony.
Allison on the interceptions: “It’s a great feeling. I couldn’t get the first one without my brother Mike (Bell). We were trying to fight over the ball and he let me get it. …
“We usually try to do like a little ‘me’ call, but we were stuck in the moment trying to get a turnover, trying to get the offense back on the field. Once we both touched the ball, that’s when we started talking. We were actually talking to each other when it happened. It was ‘Take it, take it, take it.’ “Fresno State also rendered the Bruins’ tight ends ineffective. UCLA opened in a two-tight end set and Caleb Wilson was expected to be a focal point in the offense – he went into the game as the Bruins’ leading receiver with eight catches for 128 yards and had seven more targets than anyone else on the team.
The Bulldogs are 2-1 and their offense is led by senior QB Marcus McMaryion. The signal-caller torched the Bruin defense with 4 rushing touchdowns and another through the air last weekend.
But as usual it’s defense-first at Fresno State. The Bulldogs rank 10th in the nation in passing yards allowed and 14th in rushing yards allowed. Last week they held the Bruins to only 14 total first downs, an impressive feat against any Chip Kelly offense. UCLA was 1 for 9 on 3rd downs and was never really in the game.
The upcoming contest on Saturday night should make for entertaining television watching. It’s a fast-paced and elite offense taking on a stingy defense, with a fun scrambling QB leading the rougher of the 2 squads.
The Bee also feels that the Bulldogs have room for improvement:
The Bulldogs have yet to get their run game going – in two games against FBS opponents Minnesota and UCLA they have averaged just 3.1 yards on 76 plays.
They averaged 3.6 against the Golden Gophers, who have allowed 5.0 yards per rush in their other three games and are 12th of 14 in the Big Ten in rushing defense. They averaged 2.9 against the Bruins, who have allowed 4.3 yards per rush in their other two games and are seventh in the Pac-12.
Fresno State could find some room against the Rockets, who have struggled to stop the run when playing FBS opponents. Toledo is allowing 6.0 rushing yards per play and 265.0 rushing yards per game in a loss to Miami and a win over Nevada.
Getting back to the O/U, it seems like a game with a point total of 60+ would benefit the Rockets.
Take Fresno State to cover, the under (62), or both. I’m thinking this will be a slightly lower-scoring battle than anticipated with Fresno winning by 10 or 12 points.