Toledo, Boise State and a Huge Spread
By Paul Myerberg // Sep 16, 2011
Boise State’s favored by three touchdowns, give or take, so the widely-held belief is that this won’t be a roadblock for the Broncos, nor much of a test. Boise will do what Boise always does: score early, score late, play stifling defense and leave, after 60 minutes, with a 30-point win. And that’s why Boise’s the team with something to lose tonight, not Toledo — the Rockets could always use this win, but the pressure is on the Broncos to deliver, not for Toledo to follow up a narrow loss in Columbus with the program’s biggest win in decades, if not of all time. Then again, Toledo’s not simply going to roll over and take another 57-13 beating, the result when these two met a year ago.
The Rockets came within 17 yards of notching what would have then been the program’s greatest win last Saturday, but a fourth down try deep in Ohio State territory fell short, preserving the Buckeyes’ 27-22 win. The Rockets fought hard, they fought tough, they hung around and around for the majority of a game most would thought would be another O.S.U. romp, but a loss is a loss.
Well, not exactly. All losses aren’t created equal. Take the Rockets, for instance. It’s a loss in the standings, of course. But it’s not a true loss, if you think about it: the Rockets went toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s premier programs in its own house, and in the process lent further credibility to the idea that Toledo is the best team in the MAC.
Sometimes a loss can build confidence. Even at 1-1, the Rockets must feel 2-0. That’s the bonus of a loss in Columbus, and while a win would have been extraordinary, no losing team entered this past Monday on a higher note than Toledo.
You wonder if that translates to the field tonight. Consider the math for a moment: Toledo lost by five points at Ohio State last Saturday, yet are three-touchdown underdogs at home to Boise State. That says something about the Buckeyes, something about the Rockets and something about the Broncos — one team isn’t the same, one team hasn’t done enough, one team is outstanding.
I agree that Boise State is terrific. With the win over Georgia nearly two weeks in the rearview mirror, the Broncos look towards tonight as an opportunity to reinforce the notion that they deserve a spot among the top three or four teams in the country. Georgia hasn’t done the Broncos any favors, much like Virginia Tech didn’t last September; it’s on Boise to keep impressing voters, even those that tend to discount the Broncos.
I also agree that Ohio State isn’t the same. That’s clearly the case through two weeks, though I warn the doubters currently piling on the Buckeyes that the ship’s going to righted soon enough, and anyone expecting O.S.U. to finish outside of the Rose Bowl hunt will be disappointed.
But is the perceived three-touchdown difference more a reflection on Boise or on Toledo? This game is at the Glass Bowl, for starters. The Rockets have one of the nation’s best players — really, one of the best — in wide receiver Eric Page, who was terrific last week in his first true taste of premier college competition.
Toledo has a rising coach in Tim Beckman, who went from the under card of Ohio State’s future coaching search last Friday to a viable contender come Sunday. Beckman turned the Rockets around in 12 months; now, in his third year, the Rockets are making a run towards 10 wins.
And this is a team that, for the umpteenth time, nearly beat the Buckeyes last week. So you wonder why the Rockets have no chance against the Broncos, according to the general consensus.
I wondered the same, then I remembered: Toledo’s playing Boise State. Boise State is good. Boise State is really good. Boise State beat the Rockets by 43 points last fall — in Boise, but still. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Beckman, Page and the Rockets, but Boise’s on another level than Ohio State. Maybe the three-touchdown difference makes some sense.
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Tags: Boise State, Eric Page, Ohio State, Tim Beckman, Toledo
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