Akron, Toledo meet for Mid-American Conference title
Akron (7-5, 6-2 MAC) vs. Toledo (10-2, 7-1), Mid-American Championship in Detroit, Saturday, noon ET (ESPN)
Line: Toledo by 18.
Series record: Toledo leads 11-9
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Rockets are making their first appearance in the title game since 2004, when they beat Miami in the inaugural championship held at Ford Field. Toledo has to guard against overconfidence after drubbing Akron 48-21 on Oct. 21. The Zips haven’t been in the title game since 2005. Both schools are expected to accept bowl invitations.
Toledo’s defense against Akron redshirt freshman QB Kato Nelson, who may make his fourth straight start filling in for suspended senior Thomas Woodson. Nelson is a dual threat and will challenge Toledo’s linebackers and secondary to remain disciplined when he gets outside the pocket. Nelson has completed 53 of 107 passes for 732 yards and six touchdowns.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Akron: LB Ulysees Gilbert III leads the Zips with 118 tackles and five sacks. In last week’s win over rival Kent State, Gilbert finished with 14 tackles, three for loss, and he returned a fumble 40 yards for a TD on the final play of the first half. He has three other career TDs — two on interceptions and one on a punt return.
TOLEDO: QB Logan Woodside has passed for 3,451 yards with 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He’s the school record holder in yards passing (10,083) , TDs (89) and 300-yard games (16).
FACTS & FIGURES
This is the first time since 2005 that the title game participants met in the regular season. That year, Akron beat Northern Illinois 48-42 in overtime in the regular season and 31-30 for the championship. ... One of Toledo’s two losses is to No. 7 Miami. The Rockets were within eight points in the fourth quarter before the Hurricanes scored two touchdowns. ... Toledo amassed 626 yards of offense in the previous meeting with Akron with Woodside passing for 304 yards and five touchdowns. ... Toledo has won at least nine games in six of the past seven seasons. ... Akron is 31-42 in six seasons under coach Terry Bowden, who went 0-8 in his first season in the conference. ... The Zips are 7-0 when leading at halftime. ... Akron is one of the few programs that practices in the morning to accommodate the upperclassmen’s class schedule. ... Along with Toledo and Akron, MAC has five other bowl eligible teams — Ohio, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Buffalo. Ohio will play UAB in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 22.
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