Toledo challenged Ohio State but will find it harder to scare Boise State

Posted: 09/15/2011 in college football
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Toledo’s football team has deservedly received a lot of props this week but I don’t see it helping much when the Rockets host Boise State on Friday.

Toledo put quite a scare into in-state power Ohio State last Saturday before falling 27-22. It was a terrific effort by the Rockets but they now face a very difficult circumstance.

The Mid-American Conference program plays No. 4 Boise State just six days after that game while the Broncos have gone 13 days since opening the season with Georgia.

That doesn’t give Toledo much time to prepare for the Broncos – a much more versatile squad than Ohio State – while Boise State has had extra time to study for the Rockets. (here is the stellar preview here …
http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/football/ncaaf-preview.aspx?page=/data/NCAAF/matchups/g8_preview_3.html)

And if there were players on Boise State’s team that might have overlooked Toledo, that all changed with the Rockets’ close call against the Buckeyes.

“I was surprised,” Broncos cornerback Jerrell Gavins said in response to my question earlier this week. “I actually thought Ohio State was going to blow them out. I probably shouldn’t say that but they played a pretty good game.”

My instincts tell me Boise State blows out Toledo, a team it routed 57-14 last season. Quarterback Kellen Moore was in midseason form with a three-touchdown showing in the season-opening victory over Georgia and the Broncos’ defense forced six three-and-outs.

The Rockets have a top-notch receiver in Eric Page but I don’t see enough all-round talent to compete with Boise State, the highest-ranked program to ever play at the Glass Bowl in Toledo.

Page will certainly be closely monitored by the Boise State defense after catching 11 passes for 120 yards against the Broncos last season.

But again, the entire Boise State squad should have had their eyes opened by Toledo’s performance against the Buckeyes.

“It caught everybody on the team’s attention,” receiver Matt Miller said. “They probably should have beat Ohio State so we’re not going to take them lightly.”

Boise State gets safety Cedric Febis back for Friday’s contest after he missed the opener due to eligibility concerns.

Off-the-field, the Broncos were officially placed on NCAA probation on Tuesday. The punishment included the loss of nine scholarships over three seasons, a higher figure than the school’s self-imposed penalties.

Boise State’s transgressions aren’t of the same scandalous nature as schools like Ohio State, Miami and North Carolina are accused of so it will be interesting to see what kind of penalties – and scholarship hits – the major programs receive when their cases are decided by the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions.

I covered San Diego State’s program when the Aztecs were placed on probation in 2003 and lost six scholarships over a three-year span. San Diego State was a combined 10-25 over the previous three seasons before taking that hit and it further ensured that the Aztecs were not going to turn around the program during Tom Craft’s tenure.

The program was still plagued by the scholarship hit during Chuck Long’s disastrous stint as head coach.

Boise State’s program is much better stocked and isn’t going to fall apart but rest assured that Broncos coach Chris Petersen isn’t happy with the penalty.

Nine scholarships represent over 10 percent of the allowable scholarship maximum and college programs can’t make trades or pick up players off the waiver wire if depth at a position gets wiped out by injuries.

An overlooked aspect of scholarship reduction penalties is it decreases the opportunities for overachieving walk-ons to be placed on scholarship at some point in their careers.

But come Friday, you can take away nine scholarship players from Boise State’s roster and I still don’t see any chance of Toledo winning the football game.

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