WESTERN MICHIGAN at NORTHERN ILLINOIS
AKRON at EASTERN MICHIGAN
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The Rockets have already locked up a MAC West title, but Toledo (9-1, 6-0 MAC) still has the chance to have one of its best seasons in school history. Bowling Green, however, is also enjoyhing a good season and would love to pin a loss on their I-75 rivals. The Falcons (6-4, 4-2 MAC) are riding a four game win streak and are tied for second in the MAC East (behind Miami).
This will be the 88th meeting between Toledo and Bowling Green, whose campuses are separated by a mere 26 miles, much of it along I-75. Toledo leads the all-time series, 42- 41-4, thanks to a recent Toledo streak. The Rockets have won 11 of the last 13 meetings in the series despite losing at the Glass Bowl last season. Bowling Green's Matt McDonald hit Ta'ron Keith for a game-winning 42-yard score with nine seconds remaining, giving the Falcons the Battle of I-75 trophy.
TOLEDO (9-1, 6-0 MAC)
-- Toledo is one of only 17 FBS schools with one loss or fewer, and one of only 10 one-loss or undefeated schools that are undefeated in conference play.
-- Toledo leads the MAC in scoring offense (35.9), total offense (439.6), passing offense (225.6) and rushing
offense (214.0). The Rockets are No. 7 in the nation in rushing.
-- UT is coming off a 49-23 win over Eastern Michigan.
The Rockets reeled off 35 straight points before EMU hit a field goal as time expired in the first half. Although the Eagles scored three TDs after intermission, Toledo added two of its own to maintain a comfortable lead.
-- Quarterback DeQuann Finn completed 23 of 27 pass atttempts against EMU, good for 407 yards with three TDs and one interception.
-- Penny Boone (4 catches) and Jerjuan Newton (6 catches) each eclipsed 100 yards receiving as they combined for 254 yards. Junior Vandeross III caught two balls -- both touchdowns. Boone also led Rocket rushers with 11 carries for 52 yards and three scores.
BOWLING GREEN (6-4, 4-2 MAC)
-- The Falcons picked up a comfortable 49-19 victory over Kent State last week. The Flashes scored first with a 48-yard field goal, but BGSU stormed back to lead 28-6 at intermission.
Two second half Kent State TDs in the second half were more than offset by three more Falcon touchdowns.
-- Connor Bazelak completed 13 of 10 passes, good for 188 yards with one TD and one interception. Camden Orth connected on all four of his passes, contributing 98 yards with one TD.
-- Taron Keith led the Falcons in both receiving and rushing. As a runner, he carried nine times for 103 yards (11.3 ypc) with one TD. As a receiver, he caught eight balls for a total of 130 yards with one TD.
-- A win for the Falcons would clinch Bowling Green’s first winning season since winning the MAC in 2015. It
would also give the Falcons their first five-game winning streak since winning seven games (Sept. 26-Nov. 11) in a row during the 2015 season.
-- Bowling Green is No. 1 in the nation in takeaways (24). The Falcons are No. 1 in fumble recoveries (11, tied with Navy) and No. 5 in interceptions (13). BGSU is the only team in the nation in the top-10 in both categories.
Both the Broncos and Huskies need two wins two reach bowl eligibility and have two games to play. That makes it pretty simple: They must win out. However, one will be eliminated with a loss this week. The winner lives to try for win NO. 6 next week.
Western Michigan has some momentum as it has won two straight. NIU, on the other hand, has dropped its last two outings.
Western Michigan holds a 27-21 advantage in the all-time series, while the teams have split the 24 games played in DeKalb, 12-12. Five of the last seven games between the teams have been decided by one possession or less, including last year’s 24-21 Huskie win in Kalamazoo that came down to the final minute. WMU won 14 of the first 15 games of the series between 1950 and 1982, while the Huskies are 15-7 versus the Broncos since 2001, including a seven-game winning streak between
WESTERN MICHIGAN (4-6, 3-3 MAC)
-- After leading 21-7 at intermission, the Broncos trailed Central Michigan 28-21 after three quarters last week. However, WMU hit two big plays for scores and added a field goal while holding the Chippewas scoreless in the fourth period.
-- Hayden Wolff completed 25 of 36 passes totaling 333 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
-- Kenneth Womack topped all receivers, registering 12 catches for a total of 135 yards.
-- Jalen Buckley topped WMU rushers with 23 carries for 117 yards and two scores.
-- After forcing two turnovers in the win over CMU, the Bronco defense is now up to 16 on the season. The 16 turnovers pushed WMU in to the top 25 in the nation in turnovers gained, ranking 24th overall and now third in the MAC. WMU has forced turnovers in seven of the 10 games so far this season.
-- Sophomore wide receiver Kenneth Womack is now up to 66 receptions on the season and leads the MAC
with 6.6 per game, also ranking him 18th in the nation. It’s the most receptions in a season since Super Bowl
Champion Skyy Moore caught 95 in 2021.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (4-6, 3-3 MAC)
-- After falling by six points to Central Michigan in its previous outing, NIU lost by three to Ball State last week.
-- Although the Huskies edged BSU in total offense (315-301), Northern Illinois committed three turnovers -- all fumbles.
-- Rocky Lombardi completed 15 of 26 passes totaling 141 yards.
-- The Huskies ran for 174 yards, with Antario Brown (18 carries, 73 yards) leading the way. Tray von Rudolph chipped in 69 yards with a TD among his three rushes.
-- Brown has rushed for a career high 916 yards on 155 carries for an average of 5.9 yards per carry. He ranks 14th nationally in rushing yards and 30th in yards per carry.
-- Turnovers have been the key indicator of Huskie success in 2023. NIU is 3-0 in games when it wins the turnover battle and 0-3 when committing more turnovers than its opponent. The Huskies have turned the ball over three times in each of the last two games.
-- Especially in its six Mid-American Conference battles, NIU has been a second half team. NIU has outscored its opponents in five of six MAC games with the only exception last week versus Ball State
The Eagles must win their final two games to reach bowl eligibility. It won't be easy. In addition to a road game at Buffalo to close the season, EMU meets Akron this week. The Zips have just two wins overall and one in their last eight. However, they came from behind to beat rival Kent State two weeks ago and were a very stubborn out against Miami last week.
The Eagles and Zips will be meeting for the 35th time in the history of the series with Akron holding a 19-15 lead overall despite Eastern having won three in a row, including a 34-28 road win, Nov. 8, 2022, in the last
AKRON (2-8, 1-5 MAC)
-- The Zips lost six straight before coming from behind in the final quarter to defeat rival Kent State Nov. 1. They then fell at Miami 19-0 last week.
-- Akron's defense limited MU to 236 yards of offense and 11 first downs. They also held Miami to just 50 yards through the air. Even with QB Brett Gabbert out, it was an impressive showing.
-- Akron trailed 10-0 late in the third quarter before MU added 10 points to seal the win.
-- Miami, which has one of the MAC's better defenses, held UA to 212 yards overall, including 36 yards rushing on 21 attempts.
-- Jeff Undercuffler went most of the way at quarterback for Akron. He was injured and left the game early in the second quarter but returned after halftime. The senior finished his day completing 20 of 36 attempts for 156 yards with two interceptions.
-- Jasaiah Gathings caught seven balls for 69 yards.
-- Lorenzo Lingard rushed 11 times for 47 yards, but the Zips lost 34 yards through Miami's six sacks and seven TFL.
-- The Zips blocked a PAT try by Miami's Graham Nicholson, marking his first miss of any kick this year. He is still perfect on field goals (19 of 19).
-- The Eagles are riding a three-game losing streak.
-- Eastern Michigan fell to Toledo 49-23 last week. The Rockets out-gained EMU 508-255 overall.
-- Toledo, as it did against Miami a week earlier, jumped on the Eagles early. UT led 21-0 after one period and took a 25-3 advantage into halftime. It was 42-3 before Eastern Michigan scored its first touchdown late in the third quarter.
-- EMU quarterback Austin Smith completed just 9 of 24 passes, good for 86 yards with one interception. Senior RB Sampson Evans tossed one pass -- a 28-yard touchdown.
-- JB Mitchell III (2) and Tanner Knue (3) were the only receivers with more than one catch.
-- Senior Jaylon Jackson led the run game with 16 carries totaling 74 yards with one score.
-- With his touchdown pass at Toledo, Nov. 8, Samson Evans is the only active running back in the FBS with at least one rushing touchdown and one passing score in 2023. He currently ranks second nationally among active running backs with five career touchdown passes, sitting just behind Frank Gore Jr.’s (Southern Miss) seven.
-- EMU boasts a 4-1 record at home this season, while in contrast, Akron enters the match up having lost its last seven consecutive away games, the fourth-longest active FBS streak.
-- Chase Kline and Joe Sparacio continue to be one of the best tackling tandems in the nation as the duo rank
third and sixth in the national FBS rankings, averaging 12.1 and 11.1, respectively.
-- Eastern Michigan ranks 38th nationally and seventh in the MAC for passing yards allowed as the Eagles are limiting teams to 204.8 yards per game through the air. EMU kick returners continue to rank highly this year
as the Eagles rank first in both kick and punt returns in the MAC while ranking 22nd and 20th nationally,