What better way to get you ready for the first Saturday of college football, then a classic MAC vs. Sun Belt matchup on Friday night. This looks like something you would see in December during bowl season. Maybe because this is a rematch of the 2014 GoDaddy Bowl? Actually, Toledo and Arkansas State have faced each other in 2014 and 2015, so this has become a yearly deal between the Rockets and Red Wolves. In a lot of ways they are clones in different conferences.
The MAC is basically the Sun Belt of the north with teams of similar quality. The Rockets had a really nice 2015 though, which went a little unnoticed at 10-2. They capped their season off with a win over a good Temple team. Like I noted in my other article today, Temple were not motivated in the least to be in that game, but we have to give Toledo some credit for the win.
Particularly, Toledo has beat up on Arkansas State in their meetings the last two years. A 37-7 win last season and 63-44 in that 2014 bowl game. After that loss to the Rockets though, Arkansas State looked like a much different team. The loss came in September, and after then the Red Wolves averaged 49 points per game in eight games up to the conclusion of the regular season. Toledo will be contending with a new head coach in 2016 following the departure of Matt Campbell, who made the jump to the Big 12 at Iowa State.
Jason Candle enters as the head coach, staying at the same school he’s been for the last four years. Candle spent time as a position coach and offensive coordinator for Toledo. Candle is expected to keep Toledo playing at a high level in the MAC. I expect them to be right there competing for a spot in the MAC Championship, but in the end, we’re going to see Toledo come a game short of those honors. However, Toledo is one of the most consistent performers in the conference, winning at least nine games in the last four games. They’ve been a solid bet. Are they a solid bet against Arkansas State on Friday night? We get into that more underneath.
Toledo Rockets vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Arkansas State -4.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Toledo vs. Arkansas State Pick:
The Toledo offense should be in fine shape this season. Candle, who was in charge of the offense for two seasons, shouldn’t see too much of a drop off now that he’s at the controls. The strength of the Rockets is their offensive line, which bullied opposing defenses in 2015, pushing them all over the place and allowing the running backs take care of the rock. The running game was a major strength for Toledo, getting big numbers from Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson. Note that Hunt was dealing with injuries, after galloping for 1,631 yards and 8 yards per carry in 2014. 8 yards per carry is something special, and you can only get there with a strong offensive line up front. Swanson ran for 923 yards and 6.5 yards per carry, after having to take over for Hunt a year ago.
The offensive line is in great shape this season. Toledo is getting four starters back along the line, including All-MAC left tackle Storm Norton. You better be able to provide some resistance up front on the line against them, or prepare to get gashed on the ground. The quarterback position will be manned by Logan Woodside, an experienced signal-caller who sat out last year and won the job this summer. Woodside started for Toledo in 2014 and was a capable starter, passing for 2,263 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also led Toledo to a 10-2 record. Woodside will benefit greatly from his experience, and a bonafide offensive line and running game. I don’t see Toledo having any issues scoring the ball this season.
While the offense should be a well-oiled machine, the defense has only four players returning. There are also suspensions to talk about. Toledo will be without the services of defensive tackle, Marquise Moore, and linebackers Jaylen Coleman and Anthony Davis. Coleman and Moore were expected to start to open the season. This could provide enough of a wedge in the Toledo defense for the Arkansas State offense to exploit. Arkansas State will rely on a transfer quarterback, Chad Voytik, who has starting experience at Pittsburgh, including a nice 16 touchdowns to 7 interceptions ratio in 2014. Voytik lost the starting job last season, which resulted in him transferring to Arkansas State, where he beat out another transfer, Justice Hansen, from Oklahoma. The Red Wolves’ offense is expected to run real fast in 2016 as they look to spread the ball out. Points should be easy to come by in this game for both sides.
PICK: OVER 64.5 POINTS (-110)