Noon, Sept. 10 TV: Big Ten Network Ohio Stadium (102,329)

Coach: Tim Beckman, third season (13-12 at school and overall)

Last season: 8-5 overall, 7-1 Mid-American Conference (second, West Division); lost to Florida International 34-32 in Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Returning stars

Junior Eric Page, who is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player), is one of the best receivers in MAC history. He caught 99 passes for 1,105 yards and eight touchdowns in 2010. He caught 82 passes as a true freshman. Running back Adonis Thomas is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,098 yards and eight touchdowns. Linebacker Dan Molls seemed to be everywhere while making 143 tackles and three interceptions last season.

Newcomers to watch

Redshirt freshman Ray Bush is one of three players being counted on to replace all-conference linebacker Archie Donald. Running back David Fluellen, a sophomore, is expected to see more playing time to take the heat off of Thomas.

Keys to the offense

Tackles Mike VanDerMeulen and John Morookian have started 37 and 35 games, respectively, and left guard Phillipkeith Manley is back. The chemistry of the line depends on sophomore Zac Kerin of Olentangy stepping in at center and redshirt freshman Greg Mancz taking over at right guard. Kenny Stafford of DeSales might be the best candidate to be the No. 2 receiver behind Page. He caught 18 passes last season.

Keys to the defense

Toledo cut its scoring defense from 37.7 points allowed in 2009 to 28.5 points last season, and much of it had to do with a stronger defensive line. End T.J. Fatinikun (13 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles), end Malcolm Riley (51/2 sacks, 44 tackles) and middle guard Johnie Roberts (34 tackles) played major roles. The key is to find another linebacker opposite Molls.

Special teams standouts

Teams still haven't learned to kick away from Page. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 31.1 yards per return last season. One return went for a 99-yard touchdown.

Question marks

Can junior quarterback Austin Dantin show consistency after two years of trying? Dantin also is coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out of the final four games. In fairness, he has started only 12 games in his career. His high-water mark was throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-20 victory over Purdue last season. The Rockets also must clean up their punting game. Vince Penza had three punts blocked last season.


The Rockets have been picked to win the MAC West. Seventeen starters return from a team that won five of its last six games. There hasn't been this kind of excitement on campus since the team tied for the division championship in 2005.