This season's version of the Central Michigan Chippewas is a far cry from the one the University of Toledo football team saw the last time it visited Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
The Rockets return there to face the Chippewas at 8 p.m. Friday, although Dan LeFevour, Antonio Brown and Frank Zombo are now on NFL rosters.
That trio helped Central Michigan resoundingly defeat Toledo 56-28 in 2009, but even though the Rockets haven't won in Mount Pleasant since 2003, they'll be heavy favorites Friday with the Chippewas limping along at 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
"I see a very young football team," UT coach Tim Beckman said of Central Michigan. "They're kind of a lot like us and had a bunch of injuries. ... [But] there's guys on that football team who have won a championship, so it's not like they don't know how to win a championship. This team is dangerous."
If there's one place the Chippewas have been able to play somewhat above themselves this season, it's at home, and they showed it Oct. 1 with a 48-41 victory over Northern Illinois.
And because of some quirky scheduling by the conference office, Central Michigan will conclude it's season Friday -- and almost assuredly want to end a miserable year on a high note.
"I think anybody when they play at home is usually pretty darn good," Beckman said. "They've proven it by beating Northern Illinois. They've won some big football games at home this year, so there's no question I think they're probably playing better at home than they are on the road."
UT's defense, conversely, has not been playing well at all.
The Rockets have surrendered 126 points in their last two outings and are trying to avoid getting into another shootout Friday night.
"We're just trying to look forward," UT junior middle linebacker Danny Molls said. "We still are extremely confident in our ability as a defense. We know we are a good defense, and we're just really anxious to go out and prove that we are that top-notch D."
If Toledo was to get into another shootout, well, that's OK by senior running back Adonis Thomas.
"I like scoring," Thomas said. "I just like being in a shootout. I just like to see people making plays and being part of an offense that is making a lot of plays.
"If that's what it takes to win, then that's what we have to do."
Although their championship hopes took another hit when Northern Illinois knocked off Ball State earlier this week, the Rockets must keep winning in case the Huskies slip up next Friday against Eastern Michigan.
And after two weeks of forcing the offense to carry the load, members of UT's defense said they are ready to perform.
"We've got to come up with a better performance [Friday]," UT senior cornerback Desmond Marrow said. "I mean, giving up 126 points in two weeks is just like, crazy.
"We've got to do what we've got to do and make plays."
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.
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