At the halfway point of the season, the University of Toledo has yet to win a home game.
The Rockets (3-3, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) are 0-2 at the Glass Bowl, albeit against Arizona and Wyoming, but they are intent on changing that Saturday night against Kent State.
"Our players are first of all very, very excited to be back because four of the six football games you just got done playing were on the road," UT coach Tim Beckman said. "Our players have something to say to the fans. We have to win a home game. We haven't played very well at home, so there's kind of a chip on our shoulder here to get back and play well at the Glass Bowl."
UT's last home victory came against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 20, 2009, so it's been quite some time since the Rockets have been able to celebrate a win at the Glass Bowl with their fans.
"Our biggest thing is we want to win at home," junior defensive tackle Malcolm Riley said. "We've let two slip, and we just took one on the chin against Boise [State], so we're coming in here with a chip on our shoulder. We want to show our fans and show the world that we're a great football team."
It won't be easy against a Kent State defense that is first in the nation in run defense, surrendering just 59.6 yards per game on the ground.
The Golden Flashes (2-3, 1-1) also have the top-ranked scoring defense (20.8 points) and total defense (284.2 yards) in the MAC.
Senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon leads Kent State and is fourth in the conference with 48 tackles, while defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix is making a serious challenge for MAC freshman of the year with 6.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and four forced fumbles, which ranks him first in the conference and top 10 nationally in all three categories.
"I challenged our defense, not just our offense, but our defense that you're playing against the number one defense in this conference, supposedly," Beckman said. "We have to start fast to be successful."
To emphasize that point, the Rockets went immediately into simulated game situations this week after stretching in practice, instead of scrimmaging at the end of practice following individual drills.
UT should also be bolstered by the return of sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin, who was taken off the field on a stretcher early in the fourth quarter at Boise State last week.
Dantin will start against the Flashes, Beckman said, but he'll also share time with redshirt freshman Terrance Owens.
"We're 0-2 at home," Dantin said, "so it's a must-win for us, for us as a team and our crowd. When we're playing at home, we should be winning basically every home game that we play."
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