Toledo won nine games and the MAC title in 2022. Don’t be surprised to see the Rockets in the same position in 2023.
Jason Candle’s team has long been one of the best programs in the MAC, and they return standout quarterback DeQuan Finn. The dual-threat quarterback, when healthy, is one of the league’s best players. His talent makes Toledo a strong pick as the MAC favorite.
Certainly, plenty can change between May and the end of the 2023 season, but it’s easy to like Toledo’s chances of putting together a special 2023 season.
Metrics Love The Rockets
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Toledo a 27.6% chance of winning the conference, the best mark of any MAC team. The Rockets are the only MAC team listed with a percentage above 20%.
Part of Toledo’s likelihood of winning the MAC is the conference’s lack of elite teams. The American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference, and Mountain West Conference have seemingly surpassed the MAC in terms of quality of play, leaving the league toward the bottom of the Group of Five in overall ability.
The MAC is still plenty entertaining, but Toledo doesn’t have to be one of the 50 best teams in college football to win the conference in 2023. If the Rockets are among the 75 best, which is quite possible, they’ll be in the mix to win the conference.
Ohio, Miami (Ohio), and Buffalo are considered top threats to Toledo in 2023, in what could be an enjoyable conference battle. Eastern Michigan is another program to watch.
ESPN’s SP+ pegs Toledo as the MAC’s top team as well, ranking the Rockets 79th in its preseason rankings. No other MAC team is listed in the top 90 of the preseason ranking, suggesting the Rockets are poised to enter the fall as the obvious MAC favorite.
While Toledo seems like the choice to win the MAC in late April, I wonder if the Rockets aren’t poised for more than just a MAC title in 2023. Toledo opens the season with a tough challenge at Illinois, but the rest of the schedule is manageable. Toledo’s non-conference slate includes games with Texas Southern, San Jose State, and UMass.
Toledo could make a run at 10 wins in 2023, and it’s worth noting that the Rockets weren’t that successful in one-score games in 2022. The program went 3-4 in 2022 in games decided by one possession.
If Toledo grinds out a few close wins in 2023, it could win 10+ games. The schedule presents some non-conference challenges that should prepare the team for MAC games, but the Rockets don’t face any unbeatable tests in 2023.
There’s reason to believe Toledo could be one of the more underrated Group of Five programs entering fall camp. The Rockets have returning talent, and they’re coming off a strong season. Don’t be surprised if Toledo finishes another year atop the MAC.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.