No. 23 Toledo plays Miami (Ohio) for Mid-American Conference title, looking to run win streak to 12
DETROIT (AP) — No. 23 Toledo can accomplish two rare feats by winning consecutive Mid-American Conference titles and being ranked heading into bowl season.
The Rockets (11-1, 8-0 MAC) have the opportunity to achieve both results when they face Miami (Ohio) in the MAC championship game Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Toledo has won 11 straight games since losing the season-opener at Illinois and has not won consecutive conference championships since it captured three straight from 1969-71. This is also the first season the Rockets have cracked the AP Top 25 since Nov. 22, 2015, when it was No. 24.
“We’ve done a lot of things here that no other team in the history of the school has done and we want to continue to add to that legacy,” said coach Jason Candle, who has led Toledo to MAC titles in 2017 and last season. “This is what we talked about since back in January and a trip that we’re looking forward to make.”
The matchup features Toledo with the MAC’s No. 1 scoring offense against the league’s top-rated scoring defense.
“Good players and experience, that’s a great combination,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said of his defense, which allowed only 86 points in league games. “We have that on defense. We have really good players over there. We have really good coaches and we are experienced. Our guys understand what we try to do to stop people.”
The game features a rematch with the RedHawks (10-2, 7-1) who fell to the Rockets 21-17 on Oct. 21. Miami lost quarterback Brett Gabbert to injury for the season during the third quarter of that game. It had already lost tight end Jack Coldiron in Week 1. Now it might be without leading receiver Gage Larvadain who is questionable.
“You don’t have three of your biggest weapons against a really good defense is not what you’re hoping for,” Martin said. “I was kneeling on the field with my quarterback (Gabbert) about five weeks ago and if you would told me then we’re gonna be sitting here right now and not have all your weapons and get to go to Detroit, at that point in time, I would have said, ‘Yeah, well, we’ll go to Detroit and we’ll get on that bus.'”
If the championship game comes down to a kick, Miami has a high level of confidence in Graham Nicholson. He is a finalist for Lou Groza Award that recognizes the nation’s top placekicker.
Nicholson has made all 23 field-goal attempts and is 33 of 34 on extra points. He made a field goal in every game this season, including three games when he hit three through the uprights. Nicholson is 8 of 8 on field goals over 40 yards this season, including a career-long 52-yarder against Bowling Green.
With two games remaining, Peny Boone is making a run at one of the best single-season rushing performances in Toledo history.
Boone has 1,359 yards for the season, which ranks fifth in FBS. He is also second in yards per carry and is eighth with 15 rushing touchdowns. He is the first Rocket to break the 100-yard mark eight times in a season since Kareem Hunt did it in 2016.
The junior running back ranks 11th in Toledo history and has the potential to pass Hunt who is No. 2 on the all-time list with 1,631 yards.
“He’s made great strides and great transformation from year one to year two in our program and you don’t make those strides unless you’re you have humility,” Candle said of Boone.
“You’re seeing some gaudy numbers being put up by that guy throughout the course of the season because he’s had a great approach to it.”
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football