No. 24 Toledo tries to avoid upset against Western Michigan
The No. 24 Rockets (9-1, 6-1) are all alone in first place of the Mid-American Conference's West Division after Northern Illinois was upset Tuesday night by Ohio University. Toledo, with a victory over Western Michigan (6-5, 5-2), would clinch the top spot in the division and head to next week's MAC title contest at Detroit's Ford Field against East Division champion Bowling Green.
Western Michigan can improve its bowl chances and tie for the divisional title with a victory, although the Broncos would lose on the tiebreaker in making the trip to Detroit.
DANGEROUS TWOSOME: The Rockets boast a tough one-two punch with tailbacks Terry Swanson and Kareem Hunt, and have a scoring defense allowing 19.7 points per game, that ranks No. 1 in the MAC and is led by leading tackler Chase Murdock.
Hunt ran for 153 yards against Bowling Green on Nov. 17 for his third straight game and 19th career contest with more than 100 yards.
''Kareem, when he's at 100 percent, is a great talent,'' Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. ''It's been a frustrating year with injuries and overcoming some adversities. I give all the credit to Kareem. He's pulled through and has worked hard to get himself back on the field.''
BRONCO POWER: The Broncos rank third in the country in time of possession on offense.
''It will be a great challenge for us,'' Campbell said. ''Offensively, it starts with their skill, since they're probably one of the most skilled teams in our conference. They have a tremendous quarterback in Zach Terrell. He benefits from a strong running game. They're lethal and have a lot of skill. It's a great challenge for our defense.''
''We're getting better, but haven't gotten over that backturn yet,'' Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said. ''We're getting closer every single time. Our young team will learn from that. We can still get a share of the West title so we're playing for a lot.''
BUILDING MOMENTUM: Toledo is coming off a huge 44-28 win over Bowling Green in which the Rocket defense forced five turnovers.
''You're trying to build your football team to play your best this time of year,'' Campbell said. ''I thought this was one of our better games. No matter what big game you play in, the turnover margin is a big part of that, and being able to capitalize on that.''
TOP 25: The win pushed Toledo in the top 25 rankings at 24.
''It's great for our university and school, but it's where you finish,'' Campbell said. ''It's a great challenge this week to keep that ranking and to be there at the end of the season.''