In a preseason coaches’ poll, the Toledo Rockets were picked to win the MAC West in the upcoming 2017 season. The ballot polled the head coaches of all MAC teams and was released by the league Monday morning.
The midnight blue and gold received seven first place votes out of the 12 MAC teams and a total of 66 points total. This put them within eight points of defending MAC West champion Western Michigan, who finished second in the MAC West polling. In the east, Ohio University was picked to win the division, with Miami of Ohio finishing close behind them in the poll.
Toledo finished last season with a record of 9-4, with head coach Jason Candle making his season debut. The team finished second in the MAC West, losing out on a chance to make the MAC championship game after a loss to Western Michigan. Toledo did earn a berth in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl last season, where they lost to Appalachian State by a score of 31-28.
Toledo is led by fourth-year quarterback Logan Woodside, who led the nation with 45 touchdown passes last season and was named a Heisman contender by the Heisman Trophy Trust. Returning to help Woodside on offense are Cody Thompson and Jon’Vea Johnson, a wide receiver duo that combined for 104 receptions and 21 touchdowns in the 2016 season. Looking to fill the gap left by former Rocket and current Kansas City Chief Kareem Hunt is Terry Swanson. The fourth-year running back was a 2015 second team All-MAC choice, and he posted 538 yards rushing in the 2016 season.
The Rockets will start their 2017 season this Thursday when they take on Elon University in the Glass Bowl. UT will look to win this game the in same way they were successful last season: an explosive and high-scoring offense. Toledo averaged 38 points per game last season and led the MAC in total offense with a university-record 517.8 yards per game in 2016.
Elon is an FCS program from the Colonial Athletic Association, and is led by first-year head coach Curt Cignetti. Cignetti previously coached at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he led a winning program in six seasons at the school. Elon finished last season 2-9 but is returning 15 starters from last year’s team.
The two teams will face off at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Glass Bowl. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.