Toledo preseason No. 2 in MAC, favorite in divisionWritten by Zach Davis | | email@example.com
The University of Toledo football program lost its head coach and 13 starters, but they didn’t lose the respect of the rest of the league.
The Mid-American Conference chose the Rockets as the second-best team in the league’s preseason rankings on July 24 at MAC Media Day, as chosen by voting from the 17 members of the league’s media contingent. UT was also picked as the favorites in the MAC West Division.
“It says a lot about our program, but it’s just a preseason poll,” UT head coach Matt Campbell said. “Obviously, we hope to be there at the end of November.”
Toledo (87 points) edged out Northern Illinois (83) and Western Michigan (79) for the preseason top spot in the MAC West. Ball State (42), Eastern Michigan (34) and Central Michigan (32) rounded out the rest of the division.
In the East, Ohio (119 points) was the preseason pick to repeat as MAC Champions. They easily recorded more votes than Bowling Green (91), Miami (84) and Kent State (76). At the bottom of the division is Buffalo (52), Akron (31) and finally UMass (23), which is in its first MAC season.
The Bobcats also received five votes for the team picked to win the MAC Championship Game. Toledo finished second in the conference with three while Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Central Michigan each received one vote.
Campbell will still have work to do in his first year as head coach if he wants to meet those lofty expectations. The nation’s youngest coach at 32 years old, Campbell will look to build on his young career which began with a 42-41 victory over Air Force in the Military Bowl last season.
“Coach Campbell has been the head coach for us on the offensive side of the ball for the last three years,” senior quarterback Austin Dantin said. “So with him being the official head coach for us it’s really no different, and we are happy to have him here.”
The Rockets return 12 players from last year’s squad: four on offense, five on defense and three special teams players. The offense is particularly a concern, losing star wide receiver Eric Page and running back Adonis Thomas along with three offensive linemen.
“We are feeling pretty good going into the season and are working hard in the summer,” junior Terrance Owens said. “We are working really hard buying into the program, just doing everything we can do to achieve our goal and that’s to win the MAC Championship.”
Toledo will have some weapons remaining, however — returning three All-MAC performers including their quarterback duo as well as the 2011 Military Bowl MVP in wide receiver Bernard Reedy.
The Rockets were the preseason pick to win the MAC Championship last year and finished 9-4 with a 7-1 record in conference. That was good enough for second in the West after losing a head-to-head tiebreaker to Northern Illinois (11-3, 7-1).