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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Give sportswriter Scott Calhoun credit — he was the only Press soothsayer to correctly predict that the Toledo Rockets would defeat the Michigan Wolverines.

For those of us in the stands at The Big House, the sardine can complete with nothing but bleachers that squeezes in over 107,000 fans into a stadium that should seat far less, we found the whole afternoon very surreal.
Toledo looked like the Big Ten team and Michigan looked like the Mid-American Conference team as the Rockets outplayed the Wolverines in nearly every aspect of the game. Why the Rockets suffered big losses to Ball State and Northern Illinois the weeks before and after is anyone’s guess.

But I, along with six other soothsayers, did not pick Toledo, although it did cross my mind. Still, I would rather have seen the Rockets win, as they did 13-10, and give up a soothsayer win. The fact I had a good seat was even more satisfying, except I had to listen to countless numbers of Michigan fans crying all afternoon.

Calhoun, a freelance sportswriter for numerous Toledo area newspapers including The Press, has e-mailed his reasons for choosing Toledo to defeat Michigan. For having the guts to do so, he deserves to be recognized.

Here is Scott’s reasoning in his own words —

“Recently I had the pleasure of accurately predicting that the University of Toledo, lowly also-ran in the Mid-American Conference, would travel up to Ann Arbor and pull off an “upset” of the University of Michigan.

“I was asked to explain why, being the only contestant among the Press soothsayers to do so. The answer is simple.

“For now, UM is a third tier Division I NCAA football program. The changing of the guard from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez coincided with the departure of some heavy names like Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Jake Long and Chad Henne. Others transferred.

“Rodriguez is trying to morph the traditional Wolverine offense into one of CFB’s many newfangled option schemes, and that takes some time. It also takes some time to restock a number of the most key positions on a team, and that process has not unfolded yet.

“UM beat Wisconsin, sure. But the Badgers have lost four in a row and are nowhere near the team they were predicted to be. That UM victory is an aberration. They stink this year.

“So then why Toledo, which had gotten shut out and bombed by Ball State in the Glass Bowl the week before, and then was burnt 31-7 by Northern Illinois a week later?

“Simple. The MAC has transformed from the mid-major conference known for huge March Madness upsets into an upset-maker in the fall.

“NIU nearly knocked off Tennessee recently. Toledo fell by one failed two-point conversion to then 25th-ranked Fresno State. Ball State doubled up Indiana 42-20. BGSU rocked then 25th-ranked Pitt on the road 27-17. Slowly, the MAC is becoming viable as a competitive conference across the D-I landscape.

“The Rockets may not have been the premier MAC team heading up north a couple weeks back, but we’re talking Michigan here…the team that can’t even handle Championship Subdivision programs in the Big House these days.

“It's not about what we really don't know, but about what we choose to refuse to believe.”

Nick Huenefeld, ala Mr. Ketchup man who almost made the Guinness Book of World Records and appeared before Jay Leno to show off his ketchup consuming abilities, has also taken the whim to predict major upsets many times this season, but has been repeatedly foiled. The Lake alumnus, Owens Outlook sports editor, and Ohio State student should be applauded, too.

However, it is Press contributing writer Mark Griffin that is in first place heading into the final week at 95-32 (74.8 percent), followed by a tie between myself, the sports editor, and Jeffrey Norwalk, both of us two games back at 93-34.

Following in fourth place is Calhoun, 91-36, then Rick Waldron, 89-38, Deb Wallace, 87-40, A.J. Szozda, 86-41, and Huenefeld, 83-44.

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