Despite the Arizona Wildcats' last few outings against the Toledo Rockets, there's no doubt that Saturday's season opener will be anything but a piece of cake. The Rockets are no mammoth, but they're at the top of the feisty MAC.
A poll over at Hustle Belt shows that readership on the MAC's fan website believes Toledo will win the MAC West and compete for a conference title with Ohio University. Add to that the Rockets' scary history against some very legitimate opponents, and the Wildcats might be in for a bigger fight than fans are willing to admit.
To bring you back to reality, let's start with UT's recent history against Arizona, which hasn't necessarily been a good measure for the Rockets' competency.
Back in 2008, the Wildcats defeated Toledo 41-16 in the first game of UA's Las Vegas Bowl run. But here's the scary part; later on that season, the Rockets beat none other than Rich Rodriguez's Michigan Wolverines, 13-10.
Moving forward chronologically, we see that the Rockets have the upset gene that pops out once or twice a season. In 2009, they dropped the Colorado Buffaloes 54-38, and while the Buffs were absolutely awful that season, well, that can't be discounted.
In the Wildcats' second meeting of the recent series during year 2010, they drubbed the Rockets by a 41-2 score as UA began its strongest stretch of football in more than a decade. But the Rockets did have a victory against a Big Ten squad in Purdue later on that year. Again, that's a solid Division I football team.
Last year, the Rockets' high-powered offense helped the team to a nine-win season with a 27-22 loss to then-No. 15 Ohio State before UT suffered a 33-30 double-overtime loss to Syracuse.
OK, so there's a not too far fetched possibility that the Rockets can win. But they're going to have to play defense.
In an article by the Toledo Blade, there are some mixed messages sent by the Rockets as to how their scouting of Arizona is going too far, though maybe I'm taking things a bit out of context.
UT saw quarterback Matt Scott play briefly in the 2010 blowout by Arizona, but Rockets safety Mark Singer says he doesn't know how to defend Scott.
"His arm's kind of suspect, they've said, but we have no film on him, so we don't know," safety Mark Singer said."
Sounds like perhaps Singer meant that, as of Tuesday, he had yet to look at the film. But wait, there's more.
The Blade also notes that the Rockets will take a peek at Michigan, Pitt and WVU game film to properly learn Rodriguez and Jeff Casteel's schemes. But he also writes that, for some reason, Toledo will not look at Michigan film from the 2008 win, when Rodriguez was a coach.
"We'd love to go back and look, but it's a little too dated for us," head coach Matt Campbell said.
Beats me what's going on.
So we have learned two things, probably none of which are accurate depictions of what might happen on Saturday, but both of which are completely worthy of mention.
1) We do know that the Rockets have upset potential and the talent to hang with a Pac-12 team.
2) They have their very own film of Matt Scott and Rich Rodriguez. Whether they use that (hint, hint, the answer is that they should) remains to be seen.