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Home / Articles / Jeff’s 2023-24 MAC Football Spotlight Team

Jeff’s 2023-24 MAC Football Spotlight Team


By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Jul 21, 2023
   
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Toledo Rockets Over 8.5 (-128)

Toledo Rockets Under 8.5 (-102)

Toledo Rockets to Win MAC (+175)



________________________________________________________________________________


The Toledo Rockets, current MAC champions, are expected to perform at a high level in the upcoming season. Their impressive lineup, which includes the return of quarterback Dequan Finn and a strong secondary unit, makes them a force to be reckoned with among the MAC. Betting on the Rockets to win over 8.5 games, with odds of -138, could be an intelligent decision.


Toledo's head coach, Jason Candle, has achieved remarkable success with the team. In seven years, he has not had a losing season, leading Toledo to five bowl appearances in six full seasons, not including the Covid-affected season. Despite a 54-32 straight-up record with the Rockets, Candle has a losing against-the-spread mark. The Rockets had a highly effective secondary last year, ranking No. 10 among Group Five schools nationwide. Many of those talented players, along with others, are returning this season. With 15 returning starters, Toledo has improved its win total for three consecutive years, going from four wins in 2020 to seven in 2021 and reaching nine last year. Additionally, they claimed victory in the Boca Bowl 21-19 in Florida against Liberty.


Let's talk about Dequan Finn, a promising Junior QB with a talent for both passing and rushing. While his stats have been on the rise for the past two seasons, one area needs improvement. In 2021, Finn threw for 2,067 yards, completing 57.6% of his passes with an 18/2 TD/INT ratio. He also ran for 501 yards and scored nine additional touchdowns. Last season, Finn threw for 2,260 yards, completing 59.7% of his passes with a TD/INT ratio of 23/12. He added 631 rushing yards and, once again, scored nine more touchdowns.


Toledo has a reputation for consistently producing talented teams in the MAC conference, and this season is no different. The Rockets' offense, led by skilled quarterback Finn, is known for lighting up the scoreboard with explosive passing plays and a dynamic attack. Finn has proven himself to be a reliable playmaker, and the team's offensive line boasts both size and experience. Fans can expect an exciting season ahead.


The running back position appears secure, as Jacquez Stuart, a fifth-year junior, maybe on his way to the NFL draft. His performance has been impressive, with 17 rushing yards on four carries in 2019, 24 rushing yards on three carries in 2020, and a stunning 250 yards in 2021. In the previous season (2022), he exploded for 770 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns, with an average of 5.4 and 5.7 yards per carry in the past two seasons, respectively.


Although offense may gain the most attention, defense is commonly believed to lead to championship wins. This year, Toledo has set itself apart from other MAC teams with their outstanding secondary unit. The Rockets have a skilled group of defensive backs capable of shutting down enemy passing attacks. With their ability to intercept passes and disrupt opposing offenses, Toledo's secondary could be one of the top in the entire nation. Additionally, the Rockets have a solid defensive line, finishing last season ranked No. 29. The good news is that virtually everyone from the team is returning this year!


Toledo has an advantage this season due to their favorable schedule. While every game should be taken seriously, the Rockets have several matchups that will likely result in wins. This gives them a good chance of exceeding the 8.5-win threshold. Toledo's success will depend heavily on their ability to win against conference rivals. However, they also have an opportunity to gain momentum and secure victories against more manageable opponents. Phil Steele has noted that Toledo's 2023 opponents have a win/loss record of 66-82 (44.6%), ranked at No. 121. This indicates that their schedule is relatively easy.


Toledo has consistently shown why they are the standard for talent in the MAC. Year after year, the Rockets recruit exceptional athletes, creating a deep and versatile team. The depth chart is filled with explosive playmakers and reliable contributors, whether on offense or defense. This talent pool will be crucial in helping Toledo achieve more than 8.5 wins this season. Sometimes, you must rely on proven talent to succeed and eat some chalk!


My Selections: Toledo Rockets Over 8.5 (-128) and Toledo to Win MWC (+175)


Follow Jeff on Twitter @ JHSPORTSLINE
 


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