With a solid core of weapons returning this season, Coach Matt Campbell has the Toledo Rockets in a great position to challenge for a MAC Championship. When they travel to Columbia to face the Missouri Tigers on Saturday, they could give Mizzou a tougher challenge than they’re expecting.
Last week against the Murray State Racers, Missouri trailed 14-13 into the second quarter before scoring 45 unanswered points. The game turned into a blowout, but the Tigers let the Racers stay in it for too long and cannot afford to let that happen against the Rockets. The longer you keep an underdog in the game the stronger they get, and Toledo will be a much tougher team to pull away from than the Racers.
The Tigers will be heavy favorites nonetheless. The offense is finally healthy again after several injuries put a damper on their inaugural season in the SEC last year. Last week, 2011 First Team All Big 12 RB Henry Josey looked as good as ever in his return after missing all of 2012 to a torn ACL, MCL and patellar tendon. Josey led the team with 13 carries for 113 yards and a TD.
After a troublesome 2012 season dealing with his surgically repaired shoulder, quarterback James Franklin had a nice start to 2013 last week as he threw for 318 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Unlike last season, the offensive line wasn’t gutted by injuries which was a big help in Franklin’s return to form.
Toledo also boasts a pretty solid offense. Running back David Fluellen returns for his senior season after an impressive junior campaign that saw him compile 1,744 yards from scrimmage. Senior WR Bernard Reedy could also pose some problems for the Mizzou defense. The impressive wideout racked up 1,105 yards on 89 receptions with six scores last year.
The Tigers will likely score more than the Florida Gators managed against the Rockets last week, so quarterback Terrance Owens and his up-tempo style will need to keep pace if they want to have a chance at an upset. E.J. Gaines and the Tiger defense will need to play well as the Rocket offense is much better than they showed in their first game versus Florida.
Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel will likely take care of business against his former team, but Toledo should not be taken lightly by any means. The first week of college football saw several upsets, including seven FCS teams taking down their FBS opponents. The young college football season has already seen much crazier things than the Rockets upsetting Missouri.