Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. The succession plan
In the parity-happy MAC, almost everybody gets to win occasionally, and almost everybody has to deal with cyclical comeuppance. The level of talent and revenue from top to bottom is perhaps closer in this conference than in any other (the Sun Belt is the only other conference in the race), and so much depends on coaching hires and development.
The exceptions: EMU almost never gets to be good, and Toledo almost never has to be bad.
Since Chuck Stobart led the Rockets to a California Bowl win and a 9-3 finish in 1981, they have dealt with just seven losing records in 35 years, and four of them came in a four-year stretch in the last decade (2006-09), when they were dealing with the fallout from a point-shaving incident. Before 2006, they had been to four bowls in five years and hadn't finished below .500 since 1993. Since 2009, they've been bowling five times in six years and have won at least nine games four times.
Since then-AD Al Bohl fired Dan Simrell in 1989 for 'only' going 6-5 (which caused an outcry), order of succession has worked wonders. Bohl hired Nick Saban, who went 9-2 in his lone season then left to become defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. On his way out the door, Saban recommended another former Washington assistant, his good friend (and fellow Kent State alum) Gary Pinkel.
Pinkel stayed for 10 years and became the school's all-time winningest coach, then left to become the winningest coach at Missouri. His defensive coordinator, Tom Amstutz, took over. That worked beautifully for five years (Amstutz had a 45-18 record in that time) until point-shaving and program maintenance became an issue.
So Toledo started a new chain. Former Bowling Green and Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman came in and, after a one-year breaking-in period, began to win again. After three years, he left for the Illinois job and was replaced by young offensive coordinator Matt Campbell. Campbell stayed for four years, won nine games three times, and left for Iowa State. His replacement: young Toledo offensive coordinator Jason Candle.
A coaching hire is a serious crapshoot. It is difficult to know whether someone will work out, and it seems when we're sure we know the answer, we're wrong.
At least, that's the case when Toledo isn't involved. If we count Amstutz as a solid hire -- if a hire produces five good years out of the gates, that's really all you can ask for -- then Toledo has made somewhere between five and 10 good hires in a row. The program is built, the culture is in place, and the order of succession is clear.
It feels easy to assume Candle (who is already 1-0 after leading the team to an easy bowl win over a good Temple) will do well, win for a few years, then head off for a power conference job. And his replacement (offensive coordinator Brian Wright, perhaps?) will take over and win, too.
There's still room for growth, however. As strong as the Rockets have been since Beckman took over -- the Rockets have finished in the S&P+ top 70 for six straight years and have twice finished in the top 25 (21st in 2015) -- they haven't won a MAC West title since 2004. They have graded out better than NIU on paper for four of the last five years, but they have consistently figured out a way to stumble in the Huskies' presence. They've lost six games in a row to NIU (four times by one possession), and NIU has won the division every year in that span.
To say the least, this has held the program back, from both a perceptions standpoint and one of morale. Toledo is once again projected ahead of NIU. But without a November 9 win in DeKalb, it might once again feel like the season came up one step short of greatness.
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 10-2 | Adj. Record: 10-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 20 | Final S&P+ Rk: 21|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|3-Oct||at Ball State||110||24-10||W||84%||100%||+5.1||+7.5|
|10-Nov||at Central Michigan||67||28-23||W||83%||95%||+2.1||+8.0|
|17-Nov||at Bowling Green||25||44-28||W||82%||85%||+21.9||+24.0|
|Points Per Game||35.0||31||20.8||21|
2. Two eggs
Toledo has gotten used to playing the what-if game. In five of six years during this NIU losing streak, a win over the Huskies would have given the Rockets the division crown. But while each year has been twinged with regret, 2015 carried a little bit more.
Toledo was awesome. The Rockets were one of only two teams to hold a fantastic Arkansas offense under 21 points (the other: Alabama). They followed that with a win over Iowa State and a romp over what turned out to be a strong Arkansas State. Of their six MAC wins, five were by at least 14. They ran away from Temple late in the Boca Raton Bowl.
But mixed within these great results were two rotten ones. First came the annual stumble. NIU was on its backup quarterback, and Toledo took a 10-point lead in the first quarter, but NIU managed to score 16 of the game's final 19 points and win while getting outgained.
Toledo got a lifeline. A late Husky loss to Ohio opened the door. All the Rockets had to do was beat WMU at home, and they'd take the West. And they lost, 35-30, again while outgaining their opponent.
Toledo was mostly awesome in 10 wins. The Rockets were both subpar and a little unlucky in two losses. Maybe that luck turns around one day.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||41.8%||66||Succ. Rt. +||98.3||80|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.3||77||Def. FP+||29.2||56|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.4||72||Redzone S&P+||96.6||93|
|Q1 Rk||57||1st Down Rk||32|
|Q2 Rk||71||2nd Down Rk||78|
|Q3 Rk||67||3rd Down Rk||25|
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|6'2, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8042||185||296||2263||19||8||62.5%||9||3.0%||7.2|
|Michael Julian||6'5, 215||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8201||5||7||71||1||0||71.4%||0||0.0%||10.1|
|Quentin Gibson||6'3, 195||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8223|
|Mitchell Guadagni||6'2, 200||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8296|
|Eli Peters||6'3, 210||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8432|
3. Succession plan, part 2
Alabama transfer Phillip Ely beat out Logan Woodside in a spirited battle for the starting job in 2014, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury just two games and 68 passes into his season, so Woodside took over and thrived. He produced a 142.5 passer rating and a 19-to-8 TD-to-INT ratio, and he would have done even better if he hadn't been slowed by an ankle injury late in the year.
In 2015, Campbell pulled off what you or I would attempt in a video game: He started Ely again and redshirted Woodside. Ely did pretty well -- an iffy early-season completion rate (48 percent through three games) -- dragged down his passer rating, but he was fantastic thereafter (NIU game aside, of course).
Ely was denied a sixth year of eligibility, but Toledo loses a starting quarterback and returns a starting quarterback.
Toledo now has four QBs on the roster who a) were three-star recruits and b) have been on campus for at least one year. But Woodside is the man, and one assumes he will do well. [Update: Illinois quarterback Eli Peters transferred to Toledo, but will sit out his freshman season because he enrolled early.]
Granted, he's playing under a new coordinator, but only because his old one is now the head coach. Wright will bring his own tweaks, but Woodside has an accurate arm, an experienced line, and a loaded set of skill position guys in his favor. He'll probably produce strong numbers once again.
|Kareem Hunt||RB||6'0, 225||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||178||973||12||5.5||5.8||39.3%||0||0|
|Terry Swanson||RB||5'10, 202||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7963||143||923||7||6.5||7.5||37.8%||0||0|
|Damion Jones-Moore||RB||5'7, 190||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7934||83||410||5||4.9||4.2||37.3%||0||0|
|Marc Remy||RB||6'0, 195||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||30||179||0||6.0||4.4||46.7%||0||0|
|Michael Julian||QB||6'5, 215||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8201||6||64||0||10.7||3.9||100.0%||0||0|
|Corey Jones||WR||5'9, 165||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8893||4||27||0||6.8||8.5||50.0%||2||1|
|Brad Smith||RB||5'8, 195||So.||NR||NR||4||14||0||3.5||0.5||50.0%||0||0|
|Art Thompkins||RB||5'8, 175||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7992|
|Ronnie Jones||RB||6'1, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8126|
|Shakif Seymour||RB||5'11, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7954|
4. Efficiency helps
Toledo had to replace all five starters from its offensive line last year (including three all-conference performers), and there were some predictable growing pains with the new guys. Toledo fell from 21st to 91st in Adj. Line Yards, from fourth to 66th in opportunity rate, from 58th to 95th in power success rate, and from eighth to 42nd in stuff rate.
The line did the backs no favors, in other words. The trio of Kareem Hunt, Terry Swanson, and Damion Jones-Moore all went from having an opportunity rate of 48 percent or better (Hunt was at an incredible 53 percent in 2014) to falling below 40 percent. This was still a decent run game this trio of backs is as good as anyone's, but the Rockets were far less efficient and far more reliant on big plays.
In theory, this shifts upward in 2016. The line returns four of five starters, including all-conference tackle Storm Norton (who keyed fantastic pass protection) and introduces a new load of three-star youngsters into the rotation. Meanwhile, Hunt, Swanson, and Jones-Moore are all back, as is senior Marc Remy. The foursome averaged 36 carries and 207 yards per game last year, and that was with inefficiency. The same number of carries could generate 220-plus this year. And Toledo will find itself in fewer second-and-longs.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Corey Jones||SLOT||5'9, 165||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8893||86||55||577||64.0%||21.8%||6.7||59.3%||45.3%||1.43|
|Cody Thompson||WR-Z||6'1, 202||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7483||66||37||825||56.1%||16.7%||12.5||57.6%||51.5%||2.25|
|Michael Roberts||TE||6'4, 265||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8125||38||21||234||55.3%||9.6%||6.2||44.7%||55.3%||1.07|
|Diontae Johnson||WR-X||5'11, 175||So.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||26||14||237||53.8%||6.6%||9.1||57.7%||42.3%||2.16|
|Jon'Vea Johnson||WR||6'0, 183||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8330||17||8||101||47.1%||4.3%||5.9||47.1%||41.2%||1.28|
|Terry Swanson||RB||5'10, 202||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7963||15||13||71||86.7%||3.8%||4.7||73.3%||53.3%||0.77|
|Kareem Hunt||RB||6'0, 225||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||14||11||45||78.6%||3.5%||3.2||42.9%||7.1%||3.77|
|Marc Remy||RB||6'0, 195||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||NR||10||9||42||90.0%||2.5%||4.2||40.0%||30.0%||1.22|
|Darryl Richards||WR||6'3, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||3||2||40||66.7%||0.8%||13.3||66.7%||66.7%||2.16|
|Zach Yousey||WR||6'1, 190||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7633|
|Marcus Whitfield||WR||5'11, 178||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8148|
|Andrew Davis||WR||6'4, 192||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7973|
|Neru N'Shaka||WR||5'11, 180||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8252|
|Calvin Jackson||WR||5'10, 165||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8060|
|Desmond Phillips||WR||5'11, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8050|
5. More than enough receivers
2015 Ely produced a few more big plays than 2014 Woodside did, but Woodside was the more efficient QB of the two. It will be interesting to see what that means for this year's receiving corps. Corey Jones was more successful with Woodside -- 2014: 69 percent catch rate and 12.4 yards per catch; 2015: 64 percent and 10.5, respectively -- but Cody Thompson was a wonderful big-play threat with Ely.
We'll see about chemistry, but experience is on Toledo's side. Eight of last year's top 10 targets are back, including Jones, Thompson, big tight end Michael Roberts. Sophomores Diontae Johnson and Jon'Vea Johnson might be ready to earn a few more targets as well.
Jones was a frequent target on both second-and-long and third-and-short last season; if the latter is more frequent than the former -- and with a more efficient run game, it should be -- one assumes both his numbers and Woodside's numbers will be strong.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Storm Norton||LT||6'8, 306||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7976||12||15||2015 1st All-MAC|
|Paul Perschon||LG||6'6, 310||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8035||12||12|
|Elijah Nkansah||RT||6'6, 295||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7733||12||12|
|Mike Ebert||RG||6'6, 298||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7880||6||6|
|Nate Jeppesen||LG||6'3, 292||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7700||6||6|
|Sami Kassem||RG||6'4, 320||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7833||0||0|
|Brant Weiss||RT||6'6, 280||Jr.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Bill Weber||OL||6'5, 305||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7719||0||0|
|Cameron Bell||LT||6'8, 360||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8382|
|Bryce Harris||C||6'5, 285||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8031|
|Chandler Cotterman||OL||6'4, 305||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8189|
|Jordan Fair||OL||6'5, 281||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7962|
|Brandon Heidecker||OL||6'6, 309||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7941|
|Luke Doerger||OL||6'3, 300||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8091|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||37.8%||28||Succ. Rt. +||112.6||27|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||32.4||23||Off. FP+||32.8||14|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.4||10||Redzone S&P+||131.6||6|
|Q1 Rk||29||1st Down Rk||44|
|Q2 Rk||23||2nd Down Rk||14|
|Q3 Rk||19||3rd Down Rk||30|
6. A crafty hire
Candle went outside of the line of succession in selecting his defensive coordinator, but his hire made all sorts of sense. Brian George spent the last five years at Kent State -- he was the defensive line coach the whole time and spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator.
George's half-decade in Kent produced two top-30 Def. S&P+ rankings and four years in the top 80. He figured out ways to create disruption up front with what were sometimes undersized starters; last year, Kent State ranked eighth in Adj. Sack Rate.
His year at Toledo will require some retooling. Gone are five of the Rocket's top seven linemen and four of five starters in the secondary.
Toledo's run defense was fantastic last year, and if George can create a disruptive presence in the front, the front seven should be strong enough to overcome turnover in the back. But he faces some pressure to produce right out of the gates.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Treyvon Hester||DT||6'4, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8000||12||25.5||3.6%||6.5||2.5||0||1||1||0|
|John Stepec||DE||6'3, 260||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8190||12||18.0||2.6%||5.5||3.0||0||1||0||0|
|Marquise Moore||DT||6'0, 300||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8033||12||2.5||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Olasunkanmi Adeniyi||DE||6'2, 250||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7733||7||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|DT||6'1, 305||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8603|
|Daniel Davis||DE||6'3, 260||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7500|
|Tuzar Skipper||DE||6'4, 245||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7889|
|DE||6'5, 260||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8401|
|Obi Anunike||DE||6'4, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8297|
|Edrick Mathews||DT||6'3, 276||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8228|
|David Hood||DT||6'1, 273||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7924|
7. A drastically underrated line rebuilds
Third in Adj. Line Yards, fourth in stuff rate, eighth in Rushing S&P+ 23rd in opportunity rate. Pick your adverb: Toledo's defensive line was drastically, substantially, seriously, extremely, desperately underrated last year.
Now begins the rebuild, especially on the edge. Four of the top five ends are gone after combining for 28 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and eight pass breakups. Defensive tackle and sacks leader Orion Jones is also out the door.
A couple of difference makers return: end John Stepec and big tackle Treyvon Hester were both in the rotation last year and combined for 12 TFLs of their own. But after that, it's hard to say who will be involved and who will thrive. Tackle Marquise Moore was a contributor in 2013 and began 2014 as a starter before injury, but he barely played last year. Miami transfer Earl Moore and Notre Dame transfer Jhonny Williams could join the rotation, as could JUCO transfer Tuzar Skipper.
Even with a couple of power-conference additions, it's fair to assume the line will regress. But a solid, experienced linebacking corps could make up at least a little bit of the difference. Toledo loses a starter in Chase Murdock but returns basically 1.5 thanks to Jaylen Coleman, who started half the year before injury.Between Coleman, Woodley, sophomores Richard Olekanma and Tyler Taafe, and Florida transfer Jeremi Powell, there should be enough options to produce a strong linebacking corps.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ja'Wuan Woodley||WILL||5'11, 233||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7800||12||36.5||5.2%||6.5||2.0||1||0||2||0|
|Jaylen Coleman||LB||6'0, 235||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8310||6||34.5||4.9%||2.5||0.0||1||1||1||0|
|Jack Linch||LB||6'0, 218||Jr.||NR||NR||11||14.5||2.1%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Richard Olekanma||WILL||6'2, 240||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7733||12||9.0||1.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|LB||6'0, 224||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9147||7||8.0||1.1%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Tyler Taafe||MIKE||6'1, 221||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7994||12||7.5||1.1%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Zach Quinn||LB||6'3, 225||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7959||10||5.5||0.8%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh High||LB||6'0, 222||Sr.||NR||NR||4||4.0||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Anthony Davis||LB||6'0, 190||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8519|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|DeJuan Rogers||FS||6'1, 191||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8242||10||54.5||7.8%||1||0||1||11||3||1|
|Connery Swift||NB||5'11, 195||Sr.||NR||NR||12||22.0||3.1%||0.5||0||0||3||0||0|
|Trevon Mathis||CB||6'0, 175||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7847||11||19.5||2.8%||1||0||1||8||0||0|
|Delando Johnson||SS||6'2, 200||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8731||12||18.5||2.6%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Josh Teachey||NB||5'11, 172||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7774||9||13.0||1.9%||2.5||1||0||7||0||0|
|Kennedy Frazier||DB||6'1, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8059||7||4.5||0.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cameron Mattison||DB||6'1, 202||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7685||2||2.5||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Kadar Hollman||DB||6'1, 185||So.||NR||NR||2||2.0||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jordan Martin||DB||6'2, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8500|
|Aaron Covington||CB||5'9, 175||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8560|
|Dedarallo Blue||NB||6'0, 195||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8228|
|Keelon Roberts||CB||5'11, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8046|
|Justin Clark||CB||5'11, 165||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7857|
8. Wanted: one more CB
Looking at what Toledo lost and looking at what the Rockets return can tell two very different stories.
What the Rockets lost: cornerbacks Cheatham Norrils, Christian Dukes, and Juwan Haynes (combined: 3.5 TFLs, 4 INTs, 19 PBUs), strong safety Chaz Whittaker, nickelback Rolan Milligan. That's quite a bit, especially considering returning production in the secondary tends to have a bigger impact on your defense than production from the front seven.
What the Rockets return: free safety DeJuan Rogers (14 passes defensed), nickels Connery Swift and Josh Teachey (combined: 3 TFLs, 10 PBUs), corner Trevon mathis (nine passes defensed), safety Delando Johnson, plus three-star redshirt freshman Aaron Covington and a pair of three-star true freshmen.
In terms of raw materials, Toledo has quite a bit to be excited about. Teachey was only on the field long enough to record 13 tackles but in that span managed to make 2.5 stops behind the line and get hands on seven passes. Johnson has another year to polish the star-recruit potential he had in high school. Rogers has been around the block.
The odds of a good starting four or five emerging are pretty strong, but you have to worry about depth. An injury or two could make this unit too green to succeed.
|Nick Ellis||5'11, 170||Sr.||44||39.4||3||12||14||59.1%|
|Michael Julian||6'5, 215||Jr.||1||36.0||0||0||0||0.0%|
|Samuel Vucelich||5'11, 185||Jr.||44||57.0||5||4||11.4%|
|Jameson Vest||5'9, 203||So.||49-50||16-21||76.2%||3-6||50.0%|
|Diontae Johnson||KR||5'11, 175||So.||32||22.8||0|
|Corey Jones||PR||5'9, 165||Sr.||19||10.2||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||108|
|Field Goal Efficiency||92|
|Punt Return Success Rate||8|
|Kick Return Success Rate||51|
|Punt Success Rate||91|
|Kickoff Success Rate||122|
9. Kicks were costly
With Diontae Johnson on kicks and Corey Jones on punts, Toledo's return game was solid in 2015. Unfortunately, anything involving a Toledo player kicking the ball was a bit dicey. Jameson Vest was a decent place-kicker but missed or two too many kicks inside of 40 yards (you'd like your kicker to be over 80 percent on those). But Samuel Vucelich's kickoffs never reached the end znoe, and while Nick Ellis' kicks were often high and unreturnable, they also weren't very long. And the returns Toledo did allow averaged 8.6 yards (71st). That everybody is back in special teams is both a good thing and ... a less good thing.
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|3-Sep||at Arkansas State||89||3.8||59%|
|8-Oct||at Eastern Michigan||121||14.8||80%|
|9-Nov||at Northern Illinois||79||0.3||51%|
|25-Nov||at Western Michigan||65||-2.3||45%|
|Projected wins: 7.9|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||15.3% (36)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||87 / 84|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||8 / 9.7|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-0.7|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||43% (44%, 43%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||9.2 (0.8)|
10. Favored in 10 games
Toledo almost certainly won't be as good as last year. An offense that ranked 39th should improve -- it really could be dynamite -- but even with a good coordinator hire, there's probably too much to replace on that 21st-ranked defense for to avoid overall regression.
S&P+ projects the Rockets a conservative 58th overall, both because of the losses at QB and DB and because the inclusion of recruiting rankings in the projections always creates a regression-to-the-mean effect.
But 58th might be good enough to make the Rockets the class of the MAC, or close to it. Toledo ranks first in the conference and is given at least a 45 percent chance of winning in 11 of 12 games.
Of course, Toledo hasn't had recent trouble playing like one of the best teams in this conference. The Rockets have been a consistent upper-tier presence since Beckman's second year, but NIU has constantly gotten in the way. This will be a good team once again, but UT's success in basically two games (at NIU, at WMU) and possibly a third (CMU at home) will determine how fans view it.