Michigan rushing offense vs. Toledo rushing defense: Toledo returned almost its entire defense from last year, but that unit allowed 215 rushing yards per game. But in the team’s biggest test against Ball State last week, it allowed 240 yards on the ground.

The Wolverines have had just one player run for 100 yards in a game this season — freshman running back Sam McGuffie at Notre Dame. Part of that has to do with the crowded backfield, and Michigan’s inexperienced offense has already started four different combinations of players at offensive line. Still, Michigan is more talented than the Rockets, and should have its way on the ground.

Edge: Michigan

Michigan passing offense vs. Toledo passing defense: At times, Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Threet has looked like a legitimate Division-I quarterback, like in the first quarter against Illinois. But there have been times when the Threet-led offense has gone long stretches without moving the ball, like in the last three quarters against Illinois.

The Rockets have allowed over 30 points in four of five games this season and rank 109th in pass efficiency defense. They have intercepted just two passes and have recorded a mere six sacks. As bad as Michigan’s passing offense has been, the Rockets’ pass defense has been worse.

Edge: Michigan

Toledo rushing offense vs. Michigan rushing defense
The Michigan rushing defense was looking pretty good, rolling along near the top of the Big Ten rankings. Then Juice Williams strolled into Ann Arbor. The Illini ran all over Michigan to the tune of 191 yards on the ground, with 121 from their dynamic quarterback.

There’s no question that Michigan is stronger against the run than they showed against Illinois, and Toledo is a good place to start regaining some confidence. Junior DaJuane Collins is a bruising back (5-foot-11, 211 pounds) and he is averaging over seven yards per carry this season. But Collins isn’t an outside runner, and Michigan’s big defensive line, led by senior Terrance Taylor, should be able to shut him down.

Edge: Michigan

Toledo passing offense vs. Michigan passing defense
As bad as Michigan’s run defense looked last week, the pass coverage somehow managed to look worse. Yes, Williams eluded pressure and the secondary had to hold its coverage longer than normal — but 310 yards? Williams collected just 70 yards against Michigan last year.

The Rockets are averaging less than 200 yards of passing per game and junior quarterback Aaron Opelt is completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes. Still, Michigan has to be wary of Toledo’s downfield threats, junior wide receiver Stephen Williams and senior wideout Nick Moore. Williams is listed at 6’5″ and Moore is just an inch shorter. Tall receivers have given the Michigan secondary trouble in the past. If the safeties bite on play-action, look out.

Edge: Toledo

Special Teams: If there’s an MVP for Michigan this season, it’s redshirt junior punter Zoltan Mesko. Thanks to Mesko, the Wolverines lead the country in net punting (42.09 yards). But Michigan’s biggest problem on special teams has been fumbling kickoffs. Even last week, when freshman Martavious Odoms emerged as a possible frontrunner in the returner competition, he fumbled a kickoff late in the game.

Toledo has also had fumbling issues on kickoffs. Against Florida International, the Rockets fumbled twice. Toledo’s kicker has been solid, converting eight of nine attempts, but the kick and punt returner have not proven to be gamebreakers this year.

Edge: Michigan

Rich Rod looked pissed off after the game on Saturday, and he didn’t look any happier at his press conference on Monday. The coach wouldn’t say whether he planned to make practices harder this week, but the players must have been a little worried. After being embarrassed against Illinois, Michigan should come into this game with a chip on its shoulder.

Of course, Toledo is 1-4, so the Rockets probably haven’t had a sunny week of practice either. This is the program’s first trip to the Big House, and even though this might be the smallest Michigan Stadium crowd in a decade, it should still be pretty intimidating.

Edge: Michigan

Score: Michigan wins 24-10

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.