Toledo — Toledo realizes what the prize is today if the Rockets can avoid an upset against visiting Western Michigan.
The No. 24 Rockets (9-1, 6-1) are alone in first place of the Mid-American Conference’s West Division after Northern Illinois was upset Tuesday night by Ohio University. Toledo, with a victory over Western Michigan (6-5, 5-2), would clinch the top spot in the division and head to next week’s MAC title contest at Detroit’s Ford Field against East Division champion Bowling Green.
Western Michigan can improve its bowl chances and tie for the divisional title with a victory, although the Broncos would lose on the tiebreaker in making the trip to Detroit.
The Rockets boast a tough 1-2 punch with tailbacks Terry Swanson and Kareem Hunt, and have a scoring defense allowing 19.7 points per game, that ranks No. 1 in the MAC and is led by leading tackler Chase Murdock.
Hunt ran for 153 yards against Bowling Green on Nov. 17 for his third straight and 19th career contest with more than 100 yards.
“Kareem, when he’s at 100 percent, is a great talent,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s been a frustrating year with injuries and overcoming some adversities.
“I give all the credit to Kareem. He’s pulled through and has worked hard to get himself back on the field.”
Toledo is coming off a 44-28 win over Bowling Green in which the Rockets defense forced five turnovers.
Washington coach Chris Petersen signed a two-year contract extension keeping him tied to the Huskies through the 2020 season.
Petersen will be paid $4 million per season in 2019 and 2020, the same as he is scheduled to make in 2018, the final year of his original contract.
... Interim Illinois athletic director Paul Kowalczyk says ideally a decision will be made by Sunday about whether interim football coach Bill Cubit gets the job permanently.
The Illini (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) close the season against the Wildcats (9-2, 5-2) at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Cubit, a former Western Michigan coach, was offensive coordinator and took over as head coach when Tim Beckman was fired just before the start of the season.
A university-hired law firm concluded Beckman had pressured players to play hurt and interfered in medical decisions.
Beckman has disputed those conclusions.