Saturday, Oct 20, 2018
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MIRRORS OF SPORTS

Halfway home: A look at progress of area college football teams

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    Toledo running back Bryant Koback scores a touchdown Saturday as Bowling Green defender Fred Garth tries to hang on.

    BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

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Time for a midseason installment of “Buy or Sell?” featuring our local college gridders: 

Toledo (3-2): The bad news: The Rockets have issues. The good news: Every other Mid-American Conference fan base thinks their team stinks too.

The point is not that Toledo stinks — it doesn’t — but that the turf is rarely greener.

SPT-UTBG07-11

Toledo running back Bryant Koback scores a touchdown Saturday as Bowling Green defender Fred Garth tries to hang on.

BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Yes, the Rockets’ 111th-ranked defense has discouraged, but they’re the Steel Curtain in comparison to league favorite Ohio, which just nosed out a one-point win against Kent State. And their top-10 offense? Toledo — even with its problems in the run game — might as well be the turn-of-the-century Rams next to West Division favorite Northern Illinois, which is averaging 17 points per game. If a 52-36 rivalry win coming off a criminal overnight game in California is cause for concern (it was), your program is in a decent place.

Toledo has the best on-paper talent in the conference and a good coaching staff, which are fine places to start but, of course, guarantee nothing. I have no idea what to expect from the Rockets other than a buckle-up ride to the finish. For better (a MAC repeat) or worse (6-6), nothing feels off the table. HOLD.

Bowling Green (1-5): Now let’s check in down the road!

[Googles Falcons football. Sees fundraiser to buy out the coach.]

Oh. 

Anything more we say will come off as overkill, and that’s not the intention. Still, BG’s hard-played but mistake-filled showing Saturday felt like the end for coach Mike Jinks — and the beginning of Save-Falcon-Football.com. “I feel the administration needs to know it is not just a few big donors ... ready for a change,” said Mark Lohrum, a BG booster and 2009 grad who launched the website Saturday. “It is everyone.”

This is nothing personal against a good man dropped into an ill-fitting situation. It is business. To me, the most telling sight was the Glass Bowl stands, where only a few hundred BG fans cared enough to attend the usually circle-the-date affair.

Considering Miami Hurricanes supporters brought at least three times as much orange from 1,400 miles down the same interstate, it made you wonder what’s the real Battle of I-75 anymore. BG deserves better. The rivalry deserves better. SELL.

Ohio State (6-0): From three yards and a cloud of dust to 80 yards and see ya later, the Buckeyes have entered a bold new world.

Welcome to the Big 12 (plus Rutgers and Maryland).

Ohio State can’t win a national title without major improvement on defense, mostly from its most lacking back seven in years. But ... SQUIRREL! Sorry, that shiny new, half-a-hundred-averaging offense has a way of distracting, no? With Dwayne Haskins leading the most prolific team of Urban Meyer’s career, the Buckeyes will be big favorites in every game before The Game and remain the Big Ten chalk horse. BUY.

Michigan (5-1): A championship-level defense. A big-time quarterback. An offense emerging from the Middle Ages.

Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines look to have it all.

But if we’re talking true title contender, we’ll pass ... for now. The schedule is too brutal — including a season-defining stretch against Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State that begins Saturday — and the coach too undeserving of the benefit of the big-game doubt. Prediction: 9-3. SELL.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

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