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College Football Countdown: No. 74 Toledo

The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 74: Toledo

Coach: Matt Campbell (1-0, first season)

2011 record: 9-4 (7-1 in Mid-American Conference, second in West Division)

Look back: The Toledo program continued to grow under coach Tim Beckman. After a 5-7 start in 2009, the team showed vast improvement going 8-5 in 2010 and 9-4 in 2011. The Rockets finished the season ranked first in the Mid-American Conference in scoring offense, total offense, passing efficiency and turnover margin. After falling just short of earning a spot in the MAC Championship but securing a bowl bid, Beckman stepped down to take the head coaching job at Illinois. To replace him, the school promoted Matt Campbell.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 7/4

Defensive starters lost/returning: 6/5

Key losses: WR Eric Page, RB Adonis Thomas, RB Morgan Williams, T Mike VanDerMeulen, T John Morookian

Top returnees: QB Austin Dantin, QB Terrance Owens, WR Bernard Reedy, DE T.J. Fatinikun, LB Robert Bell

Strengths: One of the biggest dilemmas facing Campbell this offseason will be who starts at quarterback? Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens both saw action in 2011 with Dantin starting the first 10 games before an injury pushed Owens into the starting role. Both helped shape Toledo into one of the top offenses in the league. In fact, the Rockets scored at least 40 points in six straight games, averaging a brisk 51.5 points in those games. The team finished in the top ten in the country in scoring, averaging 42.2 points per game. … Several players on the defensive line gained valuable experience filling in for injured starters last season. Defensive end T.J. Fatinikun returns after suffering an arm injury last year and will be expected to anchor the line. Dan Molls and Robert Bell will lead the linebackers. Both combined for 148 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Bell also led the team with four forced fumbles as well.

Weaknesses: Replacing two superstars on offense could be a challenge for Campbell and his staff. Running back Adonis Thomas and receiver Eric Page combined for over 2,000 total yards of offense and 22 touchdowns. Finding players to pick up for that kind of production will be difficult. Bernard Reedy (40 catches/758 yards/9 TDs) will step into the role at receiver while David Fluellen (97 rushes/493 yards/4 TDs) will try and fill in for Thomas in the backfield.

Outlook: Toledo has been one of the more exciting teams in recent years in the MAC however there is no denying that losing Beckman hurts. The school did the right thing by promoting Campbell to help keep continuity within the program but considering that he is the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision, there will be some growing pains. He did help lead the team to a 42-41 win over Air Force in last year’s Military Bowl. The offense has always been prolific but it will be the defense that could determine just how far the Rockets soar this season.

2012 Schedule

Sept. 1 at Arizona

Sept. 8 at Wyoming

Sept. 15 Bowling Green

Sept. 22 Coastal Carolina

Sept. 29 at Western Michigan

Oct. 6 Central Michigan

Oct. 13 at Eastern Michigan

Oct. 20 Cincinnati

Oct. 27 at Buffalo

Nov. 6 Ball State

Nov. 14 at Northern Illinois

Nov. 20 Akron

Rest of the countdown:
No. 75 FIU
No. 76 San Jose State
No. 77 North Texas
No. 78 Iowa State

No. 79 Nevada
No. 80 Eastern Michigan 
No. 81 Hawai’i
a title=”College Football Countdown: No. 82 East Carolina” href=”http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college/2012/05/college-football-countdown-no-82-east-carolina.html” target=”_blank”>No. 82 East Carolina
No. 83 Texas Tech
No. 84 Washington State
No. 85 San Diego State
No. 85 San Diego State
No. 86 Ball State
No. 87 Navy
No. 88 Tennessee
No. 89 Kent State
No. 90 Louisiana-Monroe
No. 91 Bowling Green
No. 92 Syracuse
No. 93 Minnesota
No. 94 Boston College
No. 95 
No. 96 Oregon State
No. 97 Rice
No. 98 Ole Miss
No. 99 Colorado
No. 100 New Mexico State
No. 101 Duke
No. 102 Idaho
No. 103 Army
No. 104 Maryland
No. 105 Colorado State
No. 106 Miami (Ohio)
No. 107 UTEP
No. 108 Troy

No. 109 Fresno State

No. 110 Central Michigan

No. 111 Indiana

No. 112 Memphis

No. 113 Middle Tennessee

No. 114 UAB

No. 115 Buffalo

No. 116 Tulane

No. 117: FAU

No. 118: UNLV

No. 119: Akron

No. 120: New Mexico

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