Toledo vs. Fresno State: Game Preview, Kick Time, TV and Radio Schedule
The Fresno State Bulldogs host the Toledo Rockets on Saturday night. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for.
This will be a very good game.
WEEK 5: Toledo Rockets (2-1) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (2-1)
WHEN: Saturday, September 29 — 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, California (40,727)
STREAM: Get a free trial of FuboTV
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found in and around Fresno on the Central Valley’s local ESPN Radio affiliates: 940 (in English) and 1600 (in Spanish) AM.
SERIES RECORD: The Bulldogs lead the series 2-1. In the last meeting on September 17, 2016, Toledo defeated Fresno State 62-17 in the Glass Bowl.
FOOTBALL STUDY HALL STAT PROFILES: link
The Fresno State Bulldogs found their offensive groove against the UCLA Bruins two weeks ago, but Saturday night will be their toughest non-conference test of the season, as they host the Toledo Rockets.
After a tough home loss to Miami, the Rockets, defending MAC champions, re-ignited and blew the doors off of Nevada last weekend with an offensive onslaught. With a confident quarterback and seasoned weapons around him, the ‘Dogs had better get ready for a fight.
Here’s what Fresno State can do to score a big win against Toledo.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Win
Contain big passing plays.
Toledo hasn’t been quite as pass-happy as you might expect with so many good receiving options, as they’ve only thrown 40.1% of the time, but they’ve done a lot of damage, anyway. The trio of Cody Thompson, Diontae Johnson and Jon’Vea Johnson have averaged 16, 20.5 and 27.2 yards per catch, respectively, a significant reason why the Rockets rank 10th by Explosiveness (IsoPPP).
This could make role players like Wylan Free and Matt Boateng, listed behind Anthoula Kelly and Jaron Bryant on the depth chart at cornerback, key contributors against an offense that likes to spread things out and attack. To date, Fresno State defensive backs have a combined Havoc Rate (percentage of plays with TFL, pass defensed, or forced fumble) of 9.5%, so it’ll be strength against strength.
Avoid the killer turnover.
One thing that both the Bulldogs and Rockets have in common is that they have benefited from significant advantages in field position, ranking 4th and 13th among FBS teams respectively, and it’s no coincidence that both teams have won the games in which they won the turnover battle and lost both games where they did not.
Thankfully, Fresno State has done as good a job of protecting the ball as they did last year, and the offensive line hardly missed a beat protecting Marcus McMaryion without tackle Netane Muti against UCLA, owning a 2.2% sack rate in the young season. If the Bulldogs can get to Mitchell Guadagni without coughing up so many big plays like Nevada — which is a big if, since Fresno State’s defensive sack rate is a modest 4.4% right now — they may give themselves an edge, though this key might simply come down to who blinks first.
Win in the red zone.
This one might appear obvious, but it’s hard to imagine a team with a greater disparity in red zone performance so far than Toledo. By points per trip inside the 40, the Rockets are 6th nationally on offense and 130th, dead last, on defense.
On defense, Fresno State will want to mind that Toledo likes to run once they cross the 40 (34 carries against 24 passes) and have been pretty good at it in those situations, averaging 6.44 yards per carry. On offense, the Bulldogs might consider leaning on their own ground game because the Rockets have allowed 7.13 YPC themselves. And if punching opponents in the mouth is in order, this might be a big opportunity for Josh Hokit.