Ohio Bobcats (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 7:00 PM EST
Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Mich.
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OHIO -1/CMU +1
Over/Under Total: OFF
At 7-3 the Ohio Bobcats are quietly having their best season since the late 1960s, but this week on Tuesday night MACtion they will face a team hungry for one more victory in order to become bowl eligible when the Bobcats travel to Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich., to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas on ESPN2.
Ohio will ride a three-game winning streak into Mount Pleasant on Tuesday, with MAC victories over Kent State, Toledo and Buffalo in their last three contests inside conference play. Under the steady leadership of head coach Frank Solich, the Bobcats have been solid all season long with the lone exception of one upset loss at the hands of Eastern Michigan back on October 15th (lost 27-20). With a win on Tuesday against Central Michigan (or a Miami-Ohio loss), the Bobcats will clinch the MAC East title and move onto the MAC Championship game for the first time since the 2011 season.
The Chippewas have been going in the other direction since a surprising overtime upset on the road at Northern Illinois back on October 15th, losing three straight including an embarrassing, 37-17, loss at Miami-Ohio in their last game between the white stripes back on November 4th. In fact, its been a long slow freefall for the Chippewas ever since their signature victory of the 2016 back on September 10th when they sprung a, 30-27, upset over the now-13th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
Based on their recent levels of play you’d expect Ohio to be favored by more than the single 1-point they are currently listed as on the board at most sportsbooks. But oddsmakers must still remember the Chippewas team that stunned Oklahoma State a few months back and they must be thinking that maybe a little home cooking is enough to inspire a change amongst the Central Michigan roster. Either that or bettors aren’t completely sold on the Bobcats being as good as 7-win teams usually are, which may explain why the handle on both sides of the point spread is about 50-50 and why a few books have this game listed as a pick-em.
As of press time, there has yet to be an over/under total listed for this game.
Another possible reason for the 1-point spread is the fact that Ohio’s starting quarterback Greg Windham missed the Bobcats last game with an ankle injury and it is unknown if he’ll be able to go on Tuesday even the extended 11 day break between games. The senior Windham is solid (56% comp., 1,366 yards, 9 TD) but not spectacular, and redshirt freshman Quinton Maxwell who has taken the role in his place has what most observers would consider more “upside” to his game.
When the Chippewas have the ball they also have a senior QB in Cooper Rush calling the signals. Rush, a 4-year starter, has struggled at times this season and despite throwing for 2,775 yards and 21 TDs already, he has found himself on the bench mostly because his 12 interceptions are uncharacteristic for a senior who has played in the program all four years. The biggest difference in the game could turn out to be the Bobcats defense. Ohio’s defensive line is one of the best in the country averaging 3.5 sacks per game (5th in FBS), and when they don’t get to the QB they still cause havoc which has made the Bobcats one of the best defenses at creating turnovers with 21 takeaways in 2016 thus far (5th).
One of the major factors that should concern Solich and the Bobcats coming into Tuesday night is the fact that the Chippewas have owned Ohio in recent years. Central Michigan has won two straight and six of the last seven games against Ohio dating back to 2005. However, the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings and the favorite is 7-2 ATS going back the last nine meetings.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: One of the reasons the Bobcats have risen to the top of the MAC East standings is because they are one of the few teams in the conference that can and does play defense. The Chippewas need this game to reach a possible bowl game and will be motivated in front of the home crowd, but Ohio also has the motivation of a possible MAC Championship game birth with a win. Defense will prove the difference in this one for me. I’m taking Ohio minus the 1-point.
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