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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Last week the Toledo Rockets just missed a shock the nation upset of the Ohio State Buckeyes. They lost 27-22 as 17-point road underdogs  in a game where Ohio State needed a punt return touchdown to get over the top. In fact, Toledo had the ball fairly deep in Ohio State territory late in the game but couldn't reach the end zone to finish the job.

This week, you could argue that Toledo faces an even tougher challenge. Sure, they're at home against national power Boise State rather than having to play on the road. But, Toledo is +20 this week on the Vegas line when they were only +17 last week in Columbus.

Before talking about tonight, let's do a quick review of last Saturday's slugfest.

Total Yardage: Toledo 345, Ohio State 301
Rushing Yardage: Toledo 53, Ohio State 112
Passing Stats: Toledo 21-43-1-292, Ohio State 16-33-0-189
Third Downs: Toledo 19%, Ohio State 25%
Turnovers: Toledo 1, Ohio State 1
Yards-Per-Play: Toledo 4.8, Ohio State 4.7

Both teams moved in fits and starts. Neither was good on third downs. But, both made enough big plays to crack 300 yards for the day. Ohio State was the better team up front...which is no surprise given the caliber of athletes they recruit. Toledo was better in the air, which is no surprise because they had the more experienced quarterback. We mentioned that the Buckeyes managed the win thanks to a punt return TD. At this level, the higher profile school almost always has the better special teams play. That was the difference maker here.

What does it mean?

Well, we're only two weeks into the season so the sample size just isn't there. We do believe that boxscore is meaningful...and represents what a fired up Toledo team is capable of doing against an overconfident Ohio State team that's still figuring out what's what after their multiple offseason distractions.

  • If Ohio State really is one of the top 15 teams in the country (which many were suggesting even after the suspensions), then Toledo may be a top 40 team. That's possible for the very best in the MAC in some years. Toledo was predicted to be best in the MAC by many projection systems because they returned 8 starters on offense and 9 starters on defense from a bowl team. That being said, Athlon had them as "best in the MAC" but only 68th nationally this past summer. If Toledo really is top 40...then they probably offer value at +20 on their home field against anybody.

  • If Toledo really is just in the 60-70 range, which is very reasonable for the best MAC school...then Ohio State isn't a top 25 team right now. They were in a dead heat statistically at home against a MAC team. That's a strike against any program. Ohio State has more athletes, and better special they would be expected to beat Toledo almost every time they played. But...we're now looking at the 4th of 5th best team in the Big 10 rather than co-favorites with Wisconsin in the "Leaders" division.

We'll learn more this week when both teams are challenged immediately after a hardfought battle. Ohio State visits Miami of Florida Saturday Night. You'll be watching Toledo host Boise State tonight.

To us...the key to handicapping Boise State-Toledo is getting the proper read on the hosts mindset and physical well-being. As we've been reporting for awhile now, Boise State is no longer a finesse and gimmick team that has to use trickery and creativity to beat people. Chris Petersen recruits size and speed...then he teaches those guys how to hurt people. That was obvious last year when they went toe-to-toe with Virginia Tech in the season opener. It was obvious again a couple of weeks ago when they bullied Georgia. Boise State puts major conference bodies on the field...AND they still have some creativity up their sleeves if needed.

If Toledo is beat up physically, and drained emotionally after a near-miss upset of the most storied program in their home state...then the Rockets won't have anything left to bring to the table tonight. Boise State may not match last year's 57-14 obliteration on the blue turf in Idaho. But, they'll be in control the whole way and can pretty much name the score.

But, if Toledo is legitimate...and Ohio State is legitimate...then Boise State is suddenly looking at a potential replay of their Nevada fiasco last season. You'll recall that Boise was a two-touchdown favorite in Reno, but fell apart late and lost the game outright when they were on track for a BCS bowl appearance. This team is far from a sure thing to play great on the road every time out.

We should also note that Boise State took last week off. It can be dangerous to have a bye week so early in the season because it throws off any timing you developed in your season opener. And, it gives you an extra week to read all the press clippings about how great you played against Georgia! Can Boise State play 60 focused minutes against a team that probably doesn't scare them?

All of these indicators add up to very volatile potential tonight. It would not be a surprise to see Boise State win by at least 30 over a tired team that has nothing left in the tank. It would not be a surprise if experienced and revenge-minded Toledo made tonight's game very interesting with a great effort in front of an inspired home crowd.

That's where JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK comes in. Our scouts and sources will let us know the mindset and preparation intensity for both teams. Even though this is an ESPN game, the media has mostly been talking about Oklahoma-Florida State or Ohio State-Miami this week. Or the Texas quarterback situation. Or one of 50 things happening in the NFL. This is why we have sources all over the country. You can't learn about the teams just by watching television pundits!

In addition to that key info (likely in this case to be the determining factor for our play), we're also able to run computer simulations that account for all the possibilities. We're also able to look at similar stat profile matchups to anticipate gameplan success or failure. And, we're well connected to Wise Guys in Las Vegas and offshore who often step out strong in the prime time games because public money warps the line.

It will all come together tonight with something special in Boise State/Toledo (with a possible bonus play in Iowa State/Connecticut)...that will set up another HUGE weekend in both the colleges and the pros. Every dollar you win tonight will roll over a couple of times by Monday Night's Rams-Giants game. And, of course, every dollar you win this week will keep multiplying all the way through the college bowls and the NFL playoffs.

You can always purchase NETWORK plays here at the website with your credit card. We have great rates for the rest of the season, or you can go day-by-day to try things out. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Among the games we're looking at for serious play this weekend:

  • West Virginia/Maryland, Auburn/Clemson, and Pittsburgh/Iowa in the early TV window.

  • Tennessee/Florida, Michigan State/Notre Dame, Texas/UCLA, and Washington/Nebraska in the midday TV window.

  • Navy/South Carolina, Oklahoma/Florida State, Ohio State/Miami, Utah/BYU, and Stanford/Arizona in evening action.

And, without getting specific, we may be REALLY stepping out in an off-the-radar game that wasn't listed above!

Sunday brings a few great games like San Diego-New England, Philadelphia-Atlanta, and Chicago-New some ideal Week One letdown or bounce back situations we plan to exploit.

Another big weekend of football action has arrived. That means it's time to link up with JIM HURLEY!

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