The University of Toledo couldn’t get the win it needed to stay in the Mid-American Conference West Division race as the Rockets fell 38-15 to Northern Illinois on Wednesday. The Huskies are now 6-0 in the conference and in the driver’s seat to win the division and go to the MAC title game. With a 3-3 conference record, Toledo is eliminated from winning the division.
Here are three thoughts after the game:
1) Toledo can’t slow NIU ground game: The Huskies didn’t hide the fact they wanted to play smashmouth football and pound Toledo on the ground. NIU averaged 6.7 yards per rush on the way to 296 rushing yards as a team. Tre Harbison and Marcus Jones each topped 100 yards, and quarterback Marcus Childers had two rushing touchdowns in the second half. Childers threw the ball only 19 times, but there really was no need for him to throw more with the way the Huskies were getting chunks of yardage on each run.
2) Smith causes havoc: The Toledo offensive line had a tough time dealing with Northern Illinois star defensive end Sutton Smith like many teams have. Smith got to UT quarterback Eli Peters for one sack on which he forced a fumble the Rockets were able to recover deep in their own territory. Smith caused most of his damage when he blocked a punt and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. After the game, UT coach Jason Candle said the strip sack and the punt block touchdown were huge momentum plays for NIU.
3) Time for a new QB? With Mitch Guadagni battling injuries and Eli Peters struggling with his consistency, is it time to see what highly touted freshman quarterback Carter Bradley can do? With two games remaining and possibly three with a bowl game, Bradley can appear in all three potential games without burning his redshirt. If the freshman isn’t ready, as many true freshmen are not, then there is no need to put him out there. But if he has shown in practice he is deserving of the shot, now would be the time to see what they have with him.
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