Toledo Rockets 2023 College Football Preview
June 21, 2023
Record – 9-5
ATS – 5-9
The Rockets emerged as well-deserved MAC Champions after clinching the West division before the final week of the regular season and defeating the JUGGERNAUT Ohio Bobcats in the title game (W 17-7). They were #3 in the MAC in total offense and #1 in total defense by a wide margin. They put the cherry on top of the cake with a 21-19 win over Liberty in the Boca Raton Bowl.
What can these guys do for an encore?
Toledo Rockets 2023 Outlook
QB Dequan Finn showed a lot of guts playing thru injuries LY and he ended up with good numbers when it was all said and done (60%, 23-12 TD to INT, 631 rush, 9 TDs). Finn wasn’t as careful with the football as he was in 2021 (18-2 TD to INT) but he’s a proven winner who willed his team to a MAC title. Tucker “Jackie” Gleason has proven to be a fine backup. They’re set at WR with the return of their top-two (Newton, Maddox) who combined for 92 catches and well over 1,300 yards LY. The RB unit might be the best in the MAC and everyone of consequence is retained from LY including #1 back Jacquez Stuart (770, 4 TD). The HITS KEEP COMING when you talk about the offensive line as the Rockets return four starters including star tackle Nick Rosi. They also added depth up front with the transfer of a few Power 5 doods. Yup, this offense is gonna be a handful.
The defense was phenomenal last season as they were the best team in MAC games vs the run (128 YPG, 9G) and in terms of pass efficiency defense (52%, 9-10 TD to INT). They figure to be just as stingy this year as they bring back their entire starting secondary (!) including 3rd team AA CB Quinyon Mitchell and they feature 1st Team MAC LB Dallas Gant (115 tackles) in a deep LB corps. They might be a bit weaker up front than they were LY but they still have some legit doods up front including veteran DT Judge Culpepper. Our only concern with the stop unit is finding sack production from new sources as the Rockets lose their top-three in that department (total 17 LY).
There’s room for improvement on special teams and note that the great PHIL STEELE rated them as the #110 unit in 2022. It’s not great news heading into 2023 as they’ll have a new primary PK and punter Jonathon Batzke had a mediocre 35.2 net LY. Toledo could use a lot more spice in the return game (#128 PR, #119 KR LY).
Overall – The non-conference agenda looks pretty soft after the road gig at Illinois (Texas Southern, San Jose St, at UMass) and they miss Ohio from the East. It’s worth noting tho that after playing four (!) home games in September they only have TWO the rest of the way. That could be yuuuge if they get upset once or twice early in MAC play.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Miami Ohio (Oct 21)
This will be their 3rd straight week ON THE HIGHWAY and Miami Ohio could be the best team in the East. This is not a spot we’ll be looking to play on the road favorite, if indeed they are laying points.
Season Win Total
Market consensus June 21
Over 8.5 -125
Under 8.5 -105
Three wins in non-conference play looks like a slam dunk and the realistic floor on conference wins is probably six.**
** Probably. But never count out any outcome in the MAC.
The 1969 Toledo Rockets finished with a record of 11-0 and finished the season ranked #20 in the AP Poll. This was the start of an impossible 35-game winning streak. Charles “Chuck” Ealey was the starting QB in all 35 of those games. Dood was a BALLER, yo.
The Rockets are a team due for a letdown after achieving all their realistic goals in 2022. The problem for the rest of the MAC is that they look loaded yet again. They’ll probably be overrated in the marketplace on a week-to-week basis (5-9 ATS LY) but it’s tough to go against them in the futures market. MEGALOCKS FUTURES CLUB banked a +240 to win the MAC West in 2022 but we don’t think we’ll get anything close to that in 2023. They’re our (yawn) PICK TO CLICK in the MAC this season but keep an eye on our blog page to see if and how we decide to back Toledo in futures and props. LIFT OFF, baby! Go Rockets.