In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
[divider]RANKINGS: Top 100 FBS Teams for 2018
TRIVIA: Daily CFB Trivia Question
MORE: Best FBS Player for Each Jersey Number
MORE: Best FCS Player for Each Jersey Number[divider]
No. 76 Toledo
This is a conservative ranking for a talented and deep Toledo team that could win 10 games again if they find replacements for a legendary quarterback, strong offensive line and dominating defensive end.
Their Week 3 home game vs. Miami (FL) will be a hell of a lot of fun.
2017 Record: 11-3 (7-1, MAC)
As good and stable as Toledo has been for most of their history, this was just their second 11-win season since 1972 and their first MAC title in 13 years.The 34-0 bowl loss to App State hurt, as did the demolition at Ohio, but they lost just one conference game, scared Miami (FL) on the road and won eight games by at least 17 points.
Head Coach: Jason Candle (3rd Year, 21-7)
Jason Candle was reportedly courted by UCF as Scott Frost's replacement and I'm still unsure exactly what happened and what to believe. But it doesn't matter because Candle is back for his third season at Toledo and signed a seven-year extension in December.
The 37-year-old Ohio native and former Rockets' assistant not only kept the program afloat after Matt Campbell's departure, he's won a conference title, was 2017 MAC Coach of the Year and has built an incredible amount of depth for a MAC program.
QB Logan Woodside, RB Terry Swanson, OT Brant Weiss, G Elijah Nkansah, DE Ola Adeniyi, DE Zach Quinn, DT Marquise Moore, LB Jack Linch, LB Jawuan Woodley, CB Trevon Mathis
Toledo's two-deep was obliterated by departures.
One of their five All-MAC First-Team offense selections last year (only one of whom returns), Logan Woodside holds dozens of program records, including all-time passing yards and touchdowns. He threw for more than 8,000 yards the last two years in tying the Rockets' highest two-year win total in 45 years.
Terry Swanson averaged 5.9 yards per carry in his career and linemen Brant Weiss and Elijah Nkansah were both all-conference picks. Ola Adeniyi declared for the draft after registering 20 tackles for loss as a junior.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Mitch Guadagni, QB Eli Peters, RB Art Thompkins, RB Shakif Seymour, WR Cody Thompson, WR Jon'Vea Johnson, WR Diontae Johnson, WR Danzel McKinley-Lewis, C Bryce Harris, K Jameson Vest
I'll get to the quarterback battle in a second — after I finish cleaning up my drool watching highlights from their receivers.
Toledo doesn't have the receiver talent or depth of West Virginia, Ole Miss or Oklahoma but they're not far behind. They are absolutely stacked with one of the best groups in MAC history. It's so good that Danzel McKinley-Lewis, who would see 50-plus targets from the slot on many Power Five teams, is an afterthought to the trio of Cody Thompson, Diontae Johnson and Jon'Vea Johnson. All three players averaged at least 16 yards per reception last year.
Thompson is back for after missing most of last season with an injury. He's averaging 20 yards per reception in his career and, in the five games he played last year, had the best passer rating when targeted of any Group of Five player.
“Cody is a tremendous leader,” Candle said in March. “He probably brings more to the table off the field from a leadership standpoint than he does on the field, and that is saying a lot because we all know that he is a great player. He’s a guy that is really committed. I’m excited to have him back and it’s really good to see his competitive spirit back out there with him running around with the guys and doing what he loves to do.”
Sophomore Eli Peters and junior Mitchell Guadagni are vying to replace Woodside at quarterback. They've attempted a combined six pass attempts, all by Guadagni. Neither won the job in spring practice and neither looked ready to step into Woodside's shoes.
"They are getting better,” Candle said before the spring game. “I’m happy with their growth to a certain extent. I think [they] all have a long way to go in their development. And we have to find out what they do well and really build upon that. We have to rally around their skill and build and formulate a plan of how you can attack defenses based on that. We’ll be just fine if we can do that.”
Terry Swanson is gone at running back but there won't be much of a drop-off to shifty and speedy junior Art Thompkins and powerful Shakif Seymour. Both averaged at least six yards per carry but will need a rebuilt offensive line to gel early for that to happen again.
Returning Defensive Players
DE Tuzar Skipper, DT Nate Childress, LB Tyler Taafe, LB Jordan Fisher, CB Justin Clark, CB Ka'dar Hollman, S DeDarallo Blue, S Kahlil Robinson
Second-year coordinator (and defensive line coach) Brian George lost a lot of pieces but returns plenty of experience at each level for a defense that was basically overlooked as everyone watched Woodside and Co.
They ranked 83rd and 106th nationally in tackles for loss and sacks per game, respectively. You're welcome, says Ola Adeniyi. The Steelers' undrafted free agent accounted for more than one-third of their sacks (8.5) and nearly one-third of their tackles for loss (20). No other player had more than two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
The onus is on guys like Nate Childress, Tuzar Skipper and Tyler Taafe to make the defense a more balanced, disruptive unit. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound Childress was used primarily as a run-stopper last year but will be counted on for pressure in 2018.
“We’ve really worked with him on some of the little things that have held him back in that regard,” George said of Childress. “We want him to go from just being in the gap he’s supposed to be in to being a guy that can take advantage of someone who is out of position on the offensive line and be able to get into the backfield to make a play. That’s a step he needs to take to fill the role we need him to fill.”
The secondary is in great shape. They're deep and have high-end talent with Ka'dar Hollman, Kahlil Robinson and others. Robinson led the team with four picks last year, two of which came in the fourth quarter of a five-point win vs. Eastern Michigan.
Also, Jordan Fisher might not start at linebacker but it'll be interesting to watch the converted tight end play on that side of the ball.
"Jordan is big enough, he’s strong enough, and he’s fast enough," linebackers coach Mike Ward said during spring ball. "We knew that he is a smart football player. He played [linebacker] in high school, and we thought that he would have enough awareness and wherewithal to pick it up — and he has. He’s picked it up really, really fast.”
RB Bryant Koback, OT Brock Rubie, DE Obi Anunike, DT Devonte Dunn
Unless they're hit with injuries, Toledo won't have many new faces in big roles. That speaks to the depth they've created over the last few years. They've signed the MAC's top classes each of the last two years but, even after mass departures, they have so many sophomores and juniors ready.
Bryant Koback is a redshirt freshman and Kentucky transfer who looked good in the spring game and will add depth to an already-strong backfield. Two more redshirt freshmen, Obi Anunike and Devonte Dunn, are competing for snaps, as is Florida State grad transfer Brock Rubie.
Toledo opens vs. VMI and has a rare Week 2 bye, so they don't play an FBS team until Week 3.
Their home-and-home series with Miami (FL) was originally scheduled for 2015-16 but was pushed back to 2017-18. The 'Canes won, 52-30, last September in Miami Gardens.
The Rockets also finish another home-and-home series with a Week 5 trip to Fresno State.
|Saturday, Sept. 1||vs. VMI|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||vs. Miami (FL)|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||vs. Nevada|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||at Fresno State|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||vs. Bowling Green|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||at Eastern Michigan|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||vs. Buffalo|
|Thursday, Oct. 25||at Western Michigan|
|Wednesday, Oct. 31||vs. Ball State|
|Wednesday, Nov. 7||at Northern Illinois|
|Thursday, Nov. 15||at Kent State|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||vs. Central Michigan|