This feature has been named Behind Enemy Lines for many years but when the Buckeyes face off against Toledo, it takes on a different meaning.
The states of Ohio and Michigan fought over the port city of Toledo with its access to the Great Lakes back in 1835-36 with Ohio ultimately coming out on top and keeping the city while Michigan would get the consolation prize of its upper peninsula.
If that war would have gone differently the city of Toledo could have been in the state of Michigan and the dislike from the Ohio State fanbase of all things Michigan could have given this game even more heat.
But, that was almost 190 years ago and has no bearing on Saturday night’s game against the University of Toledo, even if it does make for a fun story.
What should the Buckeyes expect out of the Rockets? We went to a long time friend, Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade to get some detailed information on Ohio State’s next opponent.
BuckeyeHuddle: Dequan Finn, does he have the makings of being a star or not?
Kyle Rowland: He’s got star potential in the MAC. I don’t know how much he could be you known nationally.
He’s a true dual threat quarterback. There’s no doubt about that. He was actually Mr. Football in the state of Michigan as a senior in high school. So he’s obviously got pedigree.
Last week against UMass, and I understand it’s UMass, but they could not contain him at all running the ball. That was a huge thing for Toledo last Saturday.
When he takes off and scrambles he can get huge chunks of yards. He definitely can play well and play well against highly ranked opponents.
BuckeyeHuddle: How has Dallas Gant fit into the defense?
Kyle Rowland: He’s been a huge addition, there’s no doubt about that. He was a leading tackler and the first two games, he has 20 total tackles.
His on-field impact is huge. But his off-field impact has also been something that that’s hit, regardless of of how he played at Ohio State, did he or did not live up to his four star hype. He was still in that program for four years, he saw what it takes to win at an elite level, whether that’s getting your body right, how you prepare all those types of things. And he’s tried to bring that to Toledo.
In the spring and summer, he kind of kind of stayed in the background and didn’t want to come in and beat his chest and say, ‘I’m a guy who played at Ohio State, I know everything’, and now he’s become more vocal. He’s definitely one of the biggest leaders on the team.
BuckeyeHuddle: How much can Toledo know about itself going against LIU and UMass?
Kyle Rowland: I think they know that they’re a really good defense, not necessarily because of the first two games, but because of that as well. I mean, at least they played well.
Texas A&M and a bunch of teams on Saturday should have won by a lot and they didn’t. So (Toledo) did take care of business, there’s a little something said for that.
They just have the track record from last year and the year before on defense. So I don’t think that’s an issue.
Everything is kind of focused on the offensive side. They need to have a little bit more gamebreaking ability. (Dequan) Finn on offense needs to be a little more accurate. The pass protection in particular with the offensive line has to be there. There’s several things offensively they just have to get corrected. Certainly for Saturday, but more importantly for Toledo is for the conference season in the MAC.
BuckeyeHuddle: How excited are people around Toledo for this game?
Kyle Rowland: There’s definitely excitement. I mean, from the team itself you get to play against the number three team in the country in Ohio Stadium at night. It’s Toledo’s first ever appearance on network television. They’re very excited to prove that they aren’t a 31-point underdog.
I guess you could say for all the Ohio guys on the team it’s a dream to get to play at Ohio State. Some of them want to prove that, ‘hey, you should have recruited me’.
And then the city itself, Toledo’s interesting where it’s located, probably a 65-35 breakdown of Ohio State versus Michigan fans. But all of those Ohio State and Michigan fans, their second favorite team is either Toledo or Bowling Green. And there’s a ton of split, Ohio State/Toledo fans.
So, I think there’s just a whole lot of excitement from that standpoint, that these two teams are finally playing each other again.
And in the last 20 years Toledo has a history of kind of rising up in these types of games. They’ve won at Penn State, they’ve won at Michigan, they’ve won at Arkansas, they beat Iowa State. (In) 2011, they almost beat Ohio State. Last year, they probably should have beat Notre Dame.
All those teams I mentioned weren’t necessarily great in those particular years. But still, Toledo played very well and either won or should have won. So they kind of have that history of maybe not being such a pushover.
BuckeyeHuddle: How do things play out and do you have a prediction?
Kyle Rowland: I’m thinking 49-21, Ohio State. I could see it being close for first half, but there’s just so much firepower on Ohio State. I mean, it could be 14-7 late in the first half. And then it could be at the snap of a finger 28-7 at halftime.
It just takes one play for these types of teams like Ohio State against a big underdog and Toledo to kind of get your footing in and kind of correct things.
I think Ohio State’s the best team in the country. So it’d be a huge challenge.
But the thing I am most interested in is how Toledo’s defense plays against this offense. I think their defensive line, their front seven, I truly believe it’d be like the fifth best in the Big Ten. Which is pretty decent.
They have a number of guys that are gonna get drafted. There’s no doubt about that. But Ohio State, even against a defense that good can score kind of at will. So we’ll be fascinating, kind of more interested in the first half and the second half, but we’ll see what happens.