More Overtime (cont.)
In the latest testimony to the MAC's resurgence after a decade of irrelevance, I give you the following score: Toledo 29, No. 21 Cincinnati 23.
Saturday, the Rockets (6-1) dealt the Bearcats (5-1) their first loss of the season and improved to 5-1 all-time at the Glass Bowl against ranked foes. Sunday, they narrowly missed cracking the AP Top 25 (they were the first team out), though in-state MAC rival Ohio (7-0) moved up two spots to No. 23.
As you may recall, Toledo went to bowl games each of the past two seasons behind an explosive offense, but it lost both its coach (Tim Beckman) and speedy all-purpose extraordinaire (Eric Page) last winter. Beckman's 32-year-old former offensive coordinator, Matt Campbell, has led the Rockets to their best start since 2001, and junior Bernard Reedy has picked up right where Page left off. Reedy returned a kick 91 yards to the end zone late in the third quarter Saturday to give Toledo the lead, his third straight game with a kick or punt return touchdown.
Toledo's win gives the MAC 14 victories this season against nonconference FBS foes, tied with 2008 for the most this century. That includes three wins against the Big Ten (Penn State, Iowa and Indiana) and three against the Big East (Cincinnati, UConn and USF). It's also unusual for the conference to have four teams with just one loss this late in the season. In addition to Ohio and Toledo, Northern Illinois (which lost by one point to Iowa in its opener) is 7-1 and Kent State 6-1.
Unfortunately, of those teams, Ohio only plays the Golden Flashes in the regular season, and not until Nov. 23. A date with Toledo would have to come in the MAC championship, which the Rockets have not reached since Bruce Gradkowski was their quarterback in 2004.
Idaho's coach, who went 20-50 in seven seasons, became the first casualty of this year's coaching carousel. But we'll always remember the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl.
Akey's interim replacement at Idaho is still better known to most of us as the quarterback of Washington State's 2002 Rose Bowl team.
Mini-previews for three of Week 9's big games:
Florida vs. Georgia, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): In its last two games, Georgia lost 35-7 at South Carolina and stumbled its way through a 29-24 win at Kentucky. Yet if the Dawgs manage to upset the Gators, they'll control their destiny in the SEC East -- and no one will be more frustrated than Steve Spurrier.
Notre Dame at Oklahoma, Saturday (8 p.m. ET): The Sooners' offense has markedly improved since a 24-19 loss to Kansas State Sept. 22, but it hasn't faced a defense remotely on the level of Notre Dame's since then, either. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will have a plan to fluster Everett Golson.
Mississippi State at Alabama, Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET): The Bulldogs last knocked off the Tide in Nick Saban's first season as Alabama's coach, 17-12. Since then, 'Bama has won by scores of 32-7, 31-3, 30-10 and 24-7, respectively. Mississippi State may be 7-0, but this will still be considered a Herculean upset if Tyler Russell and Co. can pull it off.
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