The battle in the Bahamas: Three key stats for MTSU vs Toledo

On Friday afternoon, Middle Tennessee and Toledo face off in the Bahamas Bowl, officially kicking off the szn bowl. Sure, I could tell you who I think will win and why, but where’s the fun in that? Fun fact about me: I’m a numbers girl – I love stats and they usually love me back.

Another fun fact: Going into the Bahamas Bowl 2021, both teams playing for first place nationally in at least one category. Maybe that’s why DraftKings predicts that this game will be relatively close with Toledo -11 heading into this contest.

Let’s take a closer look at which stats will prove the most fun in the Bahamas sun.

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Turnover

Toledo’s six turnovers, two interceptions and four lost fumbles, are the fewest lost by a team at the FBS level. Conversely, MTSU’s 31 takeaways lead all FBS teams. We must therefore ask ourselves the question: what does an irresistible force do when it encounters a stationary object?

When you have an offense as effective and cautious as Toledo’s and a defense as disruptive as Middle’s, you just keep doing what you’re doing. Middle Tennessee leads the nation with 15 fumbles recovered and tied for fifth in the FBS with 16 interceptions and the Blue Raiders are tied for the lead in the FBS with six regular-season defensive touchdowns, three interceptions and three fumbles.

Yards per game

The Blue Raiders offense was in the final third nationally with 351.1 total yards per game. They also average just 10.4 yards per completion entering the Bahamas Bowl, the 11th-lowest mark in the FBS.

Toledo’s offense is the opposite, ranking first in the MAC in offense (34.2). Redshirt rookie Dequan Finn has 418 rushing yards this season with eight rushing touchdowns — his season-high 106 rushing yards was against Ball State. Finn has 1,855 yards through the air this season, with a season-high 461 passing yards against Eastern Michigan. He has 16 touchdowns and just one interception. Finn will be supported by freshman Tucker Gleason, a transfer from Georgia Tech who has completed 5 of 9 passes this season for 69 yards and rushed three times for four yards in three games this season.

SEB

Two words: Samuel Womack. The senior cornerback has 15 pass breakups this season, ranking him third in the nation. He has a career total of 40 PBUs, the most in Toledo history.

Two more words: Jamal Hines. The three-time All-MAC junior has 82 tackles, 10 sacks and eight pass breakups on the year and should be a nightmare for Middle Tennessee’s offense.

Karen J. Nelson