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HomeSportsUT
Published: Thursday, 4/14/2005

Rockets to play 4 national TV games

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Football becomes an anytime, anywhere proposition for the Toledo Rockets this fall as they will play just six of their 11 games in the traditional Saturday slot. They'll also be in front of a crowd and under the lights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the coming season.

The Rockets, the defending champions of the Mid-American Conference, are scheduled to play four times on national television, including a Tuesday-night game at Fresno State on Sept. 27 that will be carried on ESPN2. The traditional season-ending battle with rival Bowling Green will take place on another Tuesday, Nov. 22 at Perry Stadium, and is also on ESPN2.

"Obviously it's great for our program to be on national TV at least four times next season," UT head coach Tom Amstutz said. "The exposure the last few years has been very important for our football program and for our university. Now, wherever we go in the country, people know who we are because they've seen us on TV."

The Rockets, 9-4 last season, will open the 2005 schedule with I-AA Western Illinois at home in the Glass Bowl on Thursday, Sept. 1 and then host Western Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 10 to start MAC play.

Toledo, working on a string of 11 straight winning seasons, has 16 starters back from the team that beat Miami in the MAC title game last December before losing to Connecticut in the Motor City Bowl.

After opening the coming season with the pair of home games, the Rockets will go east to face Temple in Philadelphia, then make the trek to California to hook up with Fresno State 10 days later.

Fresno State, which plays in the Western Athletic Conference, has won nine games in each of the past three seasons, and the Bulldogs should receive plenty of pre-season consideration in the polls in 2005.

Fresno State went 9-3 last year, including a 37-34 overtime win over Virginia in the MPC Computer Bowl in Boise.

Fresno State finished at No. 22 in both the final AP and USA Today/ESPN polls.

"There's no doubt Fresno State will be a Top 25 team in 2005, and they might even be ranked in the top 15," Amstutz said.

"They had a huge win over Virginia and they have a lot of experienced players back on offense and defense. This will be another chance for us to play an excellent nonconference opponent."

The deal with Fresno State calls for the Bulldogs to make a return trip to play in Toledo in 2008. This season's game will be the first meeting between the two schools, although the Rockets played in Fresno's Bulldog Stadium in both 1981 and 1984 in the California Bowl.

Toledo's home schedule this fall also includes visits from MAC opponents Eastern Michigan, Buffalo and Northern Illinois. Besides Temple, Fresno State and BG, the Rockets will face Ball State, Central Michigan and Ohio on the road.

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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