Appalachian State Mountaineers (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Toledo Rockets (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 17, 2016, 5:30 PM EST
Where: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: APP +1/TOL -1
Over/Under Total: 57
Two teams both with 9-3 records and coaching staffs that are very familiar with one another will battle in year three of the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, when the Appalachian State Mountaineers take on the Toledo Rockets inside the Cramton Bowl on December 17th on ESPN.
For Appalachian State, the co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference, this will be their second straight appearance in the Camellia Bowl after winning last year’s version over a different MAC team in Ohio, 31-29. Mountaineers head coach Scott Satterfield will also have the benefit of having insider knowledge into the Rockets program, having served as the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach for Toledo in 2009 on the same staff as Toledo’s first-year head coach Jason Candle.
Toledo, playing in their sixth bowl game in the past seven years, had a chance to sneak into the Mid-American Conference (MAC) title game if they would have beaten Western Michigan in the regular season finale but they couldn’t stop the Broncos losing by 20 points, 55-35. So instead the Rockets will have to settle for the Camellia Bowl as their consolation prize and the next game where they will showcase their 4th-ranked offense in the country at 530 yards a game and the nation’s top passing QB Logan Woodside (43 TDs).
With nothing but pride on the line in this bowl game, oddsmakers set the opening point spread with Toledo as slim 1-point favorites for the neutral site Camellia Bowl. Despite the fact that a large majority of bettors are taking the side of the Rockets (by a 60-40 margin), the betting line hasn’t had a whole lot of line movement either with only a few sportsbooks moving off of the opening line by adding the hook to make the spread Toledo minus -1.5.
The over/under total opened at 57 and has moved up a full point depending on where you wager. But like most totals, if you look hard enough you can find it as low as 56.5 or as high as 58 depending on where you look and if you’re willing to pay a little extra juice to get the number you want.
There will plenty of offense on display in this game next Saturday. In addition to the aforementioned Woodside and the 8th-ranked Rockets passing game (329 ypg) that puts up 38.8 points a game, the Mountaineers have a pretty high-powered offense of their own that features two 1,300-yard rushers in Jalin Moore and Marcus Cox. Cox, the returning starter who was hurt in early September against Miami, returned late in the season to join Moore to form a powerful two-headed attack since Moore ran for over 100 yards in eight of his nine starts in his absence.
One item to note is the fact the Mountaineers finished the season on a strong roll, winning eight of their last nine games to earn a share of the Sun Belt title. Their only loss during that span was a 4-point loss in the final minute on the road at Troy in early November. Toledo also had a good final month of the regular season, winning three straight including a “revenge” win over their main MAC rival Northern Illinois to set up a chance to play Western Michigan for an outside chance at the MAC West title, only to lose the finale to the Broncos.
As far as betting trends are considered, most of them would favor Toledo in this matchup. The Rockets are a rock-solid 8-0-1 ATS in their last nine non-conference games, and that mark includes a 4-0-1 ATS record versus teams from the Sun Belt. Perhaps the “off the radar” wager for this game could be the under, since the under is 4-1 in Toledo’s last five neutral site games and the under is also 7-3 when the Mountaineers play a team not in the Sun Belt Conference.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know the trends say that the under may be the hot wager for this game, but with the two offenses that these two possess I think that may be a fool’s bet. Woodside should have plenty of time to throw the ball all over the place, and the duo of Moore and Cox may run all over the Rockets weak defense. I’m taking the over of 57 in a game that will go back and forth and could be won by the team who has the ball last.
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