It seems like very few top teams were tested in week one and the Missouri Tigers were no exception as they defeated South Dakota State 38-18 and seemingly didn’t even break a sweat — even when it was a 21-18 game. The Tigers had some key players to watch in week one as they filled in for departed stars from the 2013 squad — and they all performed well.
Looking for their first conference title since 2004, the Toledo Rockets will rely on their high-flying offense to carry the load in 2014 and ensure that they get back to dominance in the MAC. Although the Rockets weren’t tested much in week one, either, they could surprise the unsuspecting Tigers as the Rockets will be the hosts of this contest.
Maty Mauk took over at quarterback for the Tigers as James Franklin was no longer available for the first time since 2010 after departing for the next level. The young quarterback completed 13 of his 21 passes for a modest 178 yards and three touchdowns. Mauk didn’t turn the ball over and led the offense during the entire game. Darius White led all receivers with 87 yards and two touchdowns as he made his two catches count. Bud Sasser accounted for the other receiving touchdown as he finished with 37 yards. The run game was a bit more effective than the pass game as junior Russell Hansbrough led the way with 126 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Toledo put the smackdown on New Hampshire as junior and first-year starter Phillip Ely engineered the offense to perfection. The Rockets finished the game with 666 yards of total offense — good numbers, but a bad omen. Ely impressed in his first start, completing 24 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns while he avoided the interception bug. Corey Jones and Alonzo Russell both finished with 78 receiving yards while Jones had four catches and a touchdown, Alonzo had six receptions. The run game wasn’t too shabby, either, as it finished with 306 yards behind Kareem Hunt‘s 136-yard performance with two scores. Damian Jones-Moore was also impressive with a 10 yards per carry average because of a 70-yard performance on just 10 rushes.
Defensively, the Rockets struggled mightily against the pass in week one, allowing nearly 400 yards through the air to New Hampshire on 31 of 45 completions. However, Toledo excelled against the run, allowing just 37 yards and 1.2 yards per attempt. Missouri also struggled a bit against the pass as it allowed 246 yards through the air and just nine incompletions all game long. The Tigers did, however, force three turnovers and hold South Dakota State to just 119 rush yards.
Missouri will travel to Toledo to take on the Rockets at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Sept. 6. The game will be broadcasted on ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2.
PREDICTION: Missouri 38, Toledo, 28
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.