Toledo Rockets Odds to win the MAC with Expert Betting Predictions
The Toledo Rockets have been known for a few things over the years, but perhaps most relevant to us now they are the team that gave Nick Saban his first head coaching job. In 1990 he took over a team that had gone 6-5 each of the two previous years and went 9-2, with the losses coming by a combined five points. He obviously wasn't convinced that college football was for him yet, though, because he left after that one successful season to serve as Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator in Cleveland for three years. He was replaced by Gary Pinkel who later went to Missouri, and Tim Beckman and Matt Campbell have also gone from Toledo to bigger jobs.
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Now, 37-year-old Jason Candle is entering his second year in charge. He has been with the team in one role or another since 2009, and he surely hopes that his time there will come to an end at some point soon as brighter lights beckon. He went 9-4 in his first season and is favored to win the MAC in year two, so he's on the right track.
2016 in a Nutshell
There is a problem that stands out when you look back at last season for Toledo. While they won nine games, their four losses came against the four best teams they played. In other words, they took care of business but didn't rise to the occasion. They lost a crazy 55-53 game at BYU in Week 4. A month later they lost at home to Ohio, who won the other division of the MAC, by five. Despite those losses, they traveled to Western Michigan for the finale, and with a win they would have won the West Division and played Ohio again in the MAC Championship You can't ask for anything more than that chance, but they blew it, losing by 20 to that very good Broncos squad. Their 9-3 record earned them a Camelia Bowl bid against Appalachian State, but they fell short by a field goal in that one.
The team had a Top 10 offense nationally, which always kept them in games. It was their defense - right in the middle of the national pack, and far from inspiring, that let them down. In each of their three regular-season losses their offense outgained the opposing offense, but the defense was incapable of preventing big plays when it mattered.
Key Additions and Departures
Logan Woodside is arguably the most underappreciated quarterback in college football, and he's back for another year. Great news. He loses his slot receiver and tight end, but the rest of the receiving unit is back, and the talent behind that is strong. Two seniors are gone from the line, but the team started a lot of different players last year and have five lineman with plenty of starting experience. And though star running back Kareem Hunt has left, there is more than enough talent and experience remaining to be just fine. This offense was very good last year and should be at least as good this year.
Defense is a less-inspiring story. While the offensive line rotated extensively last year, the defensive front seven really didn't. Just 10 players saw more than a cup of coffee in the seven last season, and three of them are gone. They still return plenty of seniors to start, but that's not hugely inspiring because these seniors were inept against the run last year, and it's hard to imagine them magically improving at this stage. And the depth behind them is scary. They also lost their two top safeties, which won't help against the run. The bright spot defensively is at corner, where they were strong last year, return the starters, and add some strong depth. They will be tough to pass against again, but that won't matter if they don't figure out how to stop the run.
Toledo Rockets Schedule Analysis
The nonconference schedule opens very manageably. They have a joke of an opener against Elon, travel to play a lousy Nevada squad, then host a Tulsa team they should be able to beat. Then they cap off the nonconference stretch by playing at Miami. That is going to be a brutal game but a huge chance to make a statement if they pull off the upset. The conference schedule is manageable, too. Toledo is the class of the conference, and the three best behind them, in some order, are likely Western Michigan, Ohio and Miami (OH). They don't play Miami and get the Broncos at home, so a trip to Ohio for their 10th game is the toughest conference test they face. Winning against Mark Richt and Miami will be very tough, but if the offense is what it was last year and the defense is even a little better in the second year under this regime then 11 wins is a very real possibility. Certainly the nine regular-season wins of last year would be seen as a disappointment against this slate.
2017-18 Toledo Rockets Betting Odds and Trends
Toledo is not one of the 36 teams for which BetOnline lists individual odds to win the national title. No surprise there. They do, however list odds to win the MAC, and the oddsmakers love the Rockets. They are -140 to win the conference, with Western Michigan far behind at +450, and Ohio and Miami (OH) at +650.
The Rockets were essentially a break-even squad for bettors last year - they were 7-6 ATS. They failed to cover their last three games to kill a strong start to the season for backers. Despite the defensive woes, the "under" was actually the profitable side against the total - the team went under seven times, "over" five, and pushed once.
2017-18 Toledo Rockets Predictions and College Football Picks
I don't expect too many issues up front, and I expect another Top 10 offense. Woodside is the real deal. I like the coaching staff and think they will be ready. Ten wins is the likely floor, and this is the best chance they have had in a long while to win the conference - despite Toledo's general competence they haven't even played in the MAC Championship Game since winning it last in 2004.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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