This is the second meeting in as many seasons for Miami and Toledo. Last year Miami came out on fire in the second half to beat Toledo 52 to 30. But don’t forget that Toledo actually had a lead headed into half time.
Toledo has a long, storied history of beating national powerhouses. They’ve beaten a Larry Fitzgerald lead Pittsburgh team at home and were even victorious against Michigan at the Big House. Here are three reasons why this year’s game at the Glass Bowl shouldn’t be nearly as close, at least on paper.
1. Recruiting Advantage
Miami has an insurmountable recruiting advantage when compared to Toledo. These are the rankings for the past few years, which is a good generalization. Toledo has never had a top 25 recruiting class.
It’s incredibly hard for a team like Toledo to recruit even 3 star players. In 2018, out of the 27 recruits they signed, Toledo inked 10 3 star recruits. Toledo’s last 4 star recruit was in 2011 - the infamous Andre Sturdivant. This means that Miami should manhandle Toledo based on roster talent alone.
Toledo can usually compete against teams around the country that field a lot of 3 star players. Teams like Indiana, Illinois, or Northwestern. But when the big dawgs come out to play, like a Miami, the lack of general disparity in college football proves itself. Indiana, for instance, hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1988. Sure it happens, where lightning strikes a bottle for Toledo, but talent on the roster really makes a difference. The more talented team in sports, when the discrepancy is that huge, usually wins.
2. Returning Players on Offense
Entering 2018, Toledo will break in a new quarterback and running back after Logan Woodside and Terry Swanson graduated. They still bring back a dynamic running back duo of Shakif Seymour and Art Thompkins. Leading receiver Diontae Johnson also returns, after a stellar sophomore campaign (72 receptions, 1257 yards and 13 touchdowns). These skill players need a strong quarterback. There are some potential options in the form of sophomore Michell Guadagni who played sparingly behind Woodside, and a couple true freshman in Cross Wilkinson and Carter Bradley. No quarterback on Toledo’s roster remotely resembles Woodside’s experience and skill. The lack of a proven quarterback on Toledo’s 2018 roster is a huge reason why they won’t keep up against Miami.
3. Coaching Experience
When Toledo beat Michigan at the Big House, it was against first year head coach Rich Rodriguez. We all know how bad he was at Michigan. In case you forgot, here’s a refresher
Coach Mark Richt is a seasoned veteran on the sidelines. Toledo coach Jason Candle is entering his third season as a coach in college football and does not possess the same level of experience. What Candle does effectively is motivate his players to score touchdowns. His offenses are very strong. After leading Toledo to an 11 win season in 2017, it will be interesting to see if Toledo matches that sustained performance with so many new pieces on offense. Against Miami, even at home, that’ll prove to be a great challenge for the young Coach Candle tasked with breaking in a brand new (and young) quarterback.
Can Toledo Win?
Ultimately, yes. Upsets happen all the time. Toledo might run the ball all over Miami, and if their QB can play mistake free football, perhaps Toledo pulls out a stunner. Coach Candle is a bright, young, and energetic coach who has implemented a viewer friendly offense that scores plenty. Moreover, Miami’s QB, Malik Rosier, could theoretically throw a massive amount of bad passes and interceptions. I predict a Miami win. Toledo’s too good to not score at least a few times, but this is a game Miami must dominate.