Toledo running back David Fluellen stands on the sideline. The senior missed his first start this season on Saturday.
BLADE/JEFFREY SMITH Enlarge
University of Toledo will soon be working on the weekdays.
The Rockets are set to close the regular season with three non-Saturday games, the annual occurrence in the Mid-American Conference once the calendar turns to November.
Saturday’s meeting at the Glass Bowl against Eastern Michigan was the final Saturday game on Toledo’s schedule.
The Rockets, as they’re accustomed to doing each November, will chase a division title before a national weekday audience. They will host East-leading Buffalo on Nov. 12 — a Tuesday — before co-West Division leader Northern Illinois rolls into the Glass Bowl eight days later.
Toledo concludes its regular season slate on Friday Nov. 29 — the day after Thanksgiving — with a tricky road trip to Akron. The Zips — who improved to 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the MAC on Saturday with a win against rival Kent State — are no longer a pushover. They nearly won at Michigan, losing by four on a Wolverines’ game-ending goal line stand, and held Northern Illinois to a one-touchdown win.
The most direct path for the Rockets to the MAC title game — played on Dec. 6, a Friday, at Detroit’s Ford Field — is to win out and cross their fingers Northern Illinois beats Ball State on Nov. 13.
A Huskies win would create a three-way knot atop the division with Toledo likely getting the nod based on its quality of cross-division wins. The Rockets, should they win out, will have beaten Buffalo and Bowling Green. NIU and BSU avoid all top-tier East teams.
FLUELLEN OUT: Standout running back David Fluellen missed his first game of the season on Saturday, apparently bothered by a lower body injury that sidelined him a week ago in the opening drive at Bowling Green.
Fluellen has now missed significant time in three straight games, beginning with a back injury two weeks ago that pre-empted his day against Navy early in the fourth quarter.
Fluellen’s senior-season rushing totals are frozen at 1,067 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Standing in for Fluellen was Kareem Hunt. The true freshman, who ran for 241 yards the previous two games, made his first career start.
Other starters out were safety Ross Madison and defensive tackle Orion Jones. Madison (knee) missed his second straight game.
DEFENSIVE CHANGES: There were four defensive changes to the starting line up. Chris Dukes got the nod at cornerback over Cameron Cole, and DeJuan Rogers started at strong safety in place of the injured Madison. On the line, Whitmer graduate Marquise Moore replaced the injured Jones, and Christian Smith was inserted in a five-lineman look, replacing linebacker Vladimir Emilien.
DURBIN REMEMBERED: Toledo players wore a small decal on their helmets in remembrance of deceased Bedford football player Colton Durbin.
Durbin, a senior defensive back, died last month after the car he was driving smashed into the back of a garbage truck.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.
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