Our NCAA handicapper looks at the Toledo Rockets, who won 10 games in route to a 9-2-1 ATS record in 2015. Can their success continue?
2015 in Review
The Toledo Rockets are coming off of an impressive 10-2 campaign in 2015, and a perfect 6-0 record on the road, culminating in a 32-17 win over Temple in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl. More importantly for MAC bettors, the Rockets had the best ATS record on the year at 9-2-1. Their defense also led to a very profitable trend at sportsbooks on the Under, with the O/U coming in at 3-9 in 2015. Those two losses on the year came at home late in the year to Northern Illinois and Western Michigan as 7-point favorites. Both losses were by less than a touchdown.
The Toledo season was so good in fact that their head coach, Matt Campbell, was poached to be the head coach at Iowa State before the bowl game. 36-year-old offensive coordinator, Jason Candle, will take over the head coaching duties for the 2016 season. The Toledo offense averaged 460.9 yards per game last year, which was good for 30th in the country. The offense was led by Alabama transfer, Phillip Ely, who put up 2,965 passing yards on 403 attempts, a 23/10 TD/INT rate and 247.1 yards per game. Ely didn’t finish the season after tearing his ACL, and won’t be back for 2016. Junior running back, Kareem Hunt, averaged over 100 yards per game in his time on the field, putting up 108 yards per game on a 5.8 yards per touch average.
With the loss of Ely, the Rockets have serious holes to fill on offense this year. Luckily they have more than a few impact players on that side of the ball. The first of course is senior running back, Kareem Hunt. Although he missed some time in his junior year, Hunt put up 1,631 yards as a sophomore and ranked second in the country at 7.96 yards per carry. Another Toledo offensive player with big play ability is junior wide receiver, Cody Thompson. Thompson racked up 825 passing yards in just 37 receptions in 2015, which equates to 22.3 yards per catch.
The 2015 Toledo defense was ranked 24th in the country in yards allowed, with just 378 per game. Their strength was rushing defense, which ranked 11th in yards per game. That kind of performance gets noticed, and defensive coordinator has left with Matt Campbell to be the defensive coordinator at Iowa State. A large portion of the defensive line graduated, so there will be some youth in the 2nd string of Toledo. 4 seniors also graduated from the secondary and were responsible for 8 of the 12 interceptions in 2015.
The defense will be hampered to begin the season after 3 players were suspended for the first two games of the season. This included projected starters defensive tackle Marquise Moor and linebacker Jaylen Coleman.
The Rockets play two teams that they haven’t faced before in Maine and BYU in 2016. They are likely to be underdogs in Provo in late September and favorites college football pick at home against Maine. For the rest of their schedule, current college football odds have them at being underdogs in 5 games on the year; however, they should be heavy favorites in the remaining 7 games. While Toledo has won at least 9 games in 3 of the last 4 years, with the coaching change and turnover on defense, I believe that an 8-win campaign for Toledo should be considered a success in 2016.