Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff will lead Central Michigan into the Glass Bowl Saturday against a Toledo team ranked 12th in the Mid-American Conference in pass defense.
Unfortunately for the starting quarterback, the Rockets lead the conference in interceptions with seven.
After opening MAC play against last year’s West champion Northern Illinois, it will not get any easier for CMU when it kicks off against Toledo at 3 p.m.
The Rockets are 4-1 and lead the MAC West division with a 2-0 record.
“They’re very explosive on offense,” head coach Dan Enos said. “Their quarterback is a very good player. Their backs are good. The offensive line is very good. These have to be two of the best offenses we will see probably the entire year, meaning Northern Illinois and these guys back-to-back.”
Junior quarterback Terrance Owens leads an offense that averages 30.6 points per game. He has thrown for nine touchdowns this season and has not thrown an interception.
“He’s a smart football player,” Enos said. “He’s played a lot of football and makes good decisions.”
Toledo also features an explosive running game headed by junior David Fluellen. He averages 100 rushing yards per game and has found the end zone six times.
The Rockets are ranked fourth in scoring defense and are tied for first in interceptions with seven. Senior Dan Molls leads the team with 62 tackles—25 more than the next highest.
“Defensively, they are big inside, and they know their scheme very well,” Enos said. “They are a very good football team. It’s going to be a big challenge.”
CMU is coming off a 55-24 loss to NIU in which the Huskies put up 21 fourth–quarter points.
“We missed tackles,” Enos said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. Watching the video, they played hard; just near the end of the game, guys were trying to do too much, and we didn’t get off the field on third down. I think we had like four or five third-and-tens, and they converted on all of them, and those kill you.”
After having zero turnovers in the Sept. 22 win against Iowa, CMU had two last week.
“The big thing is we have to eliminate the mistakes and get back on the plus side of the turnover margin again,” Enos said. “If we do that, then I think good things will start happening.”
Despite giving up 55 points last game, junior Shamari Benton said the defense is poised to have a breakout game.
“Watching film after last game, it gave us motivation,” he said. “It was a difficult loss but it gives us motivation to prepare harder and go harder.”
Senior offensive tackle Jake Olson and senior linebacker Alex Smith will miss Saturday’s game with injuries. Senior wide receiver Jerry Harris and senior defensive end Caesar Rodriguez are expected to be back in the lineup.
The Chippewas are 18-19-3 all-time against Toledo.