Toledo Rockets (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Friday, November 25, 2016, 5:00 PM EST
Where: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, Mich.
TV: ESPN2, DirecTV 209
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TOL +9/WMU -9
Over/Under Total: 67.5
Although it may be overshadowed by the higher profile game earlier in the day between two ranked PAC 12 rivals Washington at Washington State, there is no denying the fact that the game of the year in the Mid-American Conference this year will also fall on the day after Thanksgiving on rivalry weekend when 14th-ranked Western Michigan Broncos try and complete their undefeated season by hosting the nine-win Toledo Rockets inside Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo on ESPN2.
The Broncos have run the table in the MAC up to this point, and two of their 11 wins include victories against Big Ten foes Northwestern and Illinois early in the non-conference season. But the game against the Rockets on the day after Thanksgiving has been circled on both teams schedules the day the 2016 MAC regular season calendar was released. With only one game left for both teams, you can expect both teams to leave it all out on the field as they play for the MAC East title and its birth into the MAC Championship Friday in Kalamazoo.
Since the Broncos have yet to really be challenged inside the MAC this season (narrowest victory was a 14-point win over Eastern Michigan in October), oddsmakers were almost forced to open the game with Western Michigan as 9-point favorites at home in Waldo Stadium. The early action at the betting window is proving to be pretty accurate too, as both sides are drawing money at that number right now and only a scant few sportsbooks have moved off the spot with just a handful listing the Broncos at -9.5.
It’s still a little early in the week to get a good feel for where the over/under total will end up for this game. There are a few offshore books with a total up on their boards, but with one currently at 69 (betonline.ag) and others at 67.5, there’s still enough gap between the numbers right now so you can be sure the total will settle somewhere in between those levels prior to kickoff on Friday.
One facet of the game that won’t be lacking at all in this one will be offense. The two schools sit atop the MAC in most catergories including scoring offense (W.Mich. – 44.4 ppg; Tol. – 39.4 ppg), total offense (Tol. 539.7 ypg; W.Mich. – 498.2 ypg) and passing efficency (Tol. – 70.4%; W.Mich. – 70.0%). Toledo QB Logan Woodside leads the country in touchdown throws with 37, and although Broncos senior QB Zach Terrell only has 27 TDs, he also has only one interception … so in a conference that prides itself on wide open offenses these two are two of the best not only inside the MAC but across the entire college football landscape.
What has helped these two get to the top of the MAC and in line for a chance at playing for the MAC Championship game is their defense. These two are also one-two in the MAC in scoring defense, with Western Michigan (19.5 ppg) just slightly ahead of Toledo (22.5 ppG). What could turn out to be the biggest difference in this game is the fact that the Broncos pass defense (allow 204 ypg) could make things toughers on Woodside and Toledo, then the Rockets pass defense (229.5 ypg) will do to Terrell.
Toledo had won five straight head-to-head meetings against Western Michigan prior to the Broncos finally breaking the string last season in Toledo, 35-30. But there are other betting trends that would point in favor of the Rockets on Friday, including the road team being 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings and the underdog going 9-1 ATS in the last 10.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is the game everyone who follows MAC football has been waiting for all season. And to both schools credit, neither has been caught looking ahead to the showdown either if you take out the Rockets lone stumble at home to Ohio four weeks ago in late October. Both teams are deep, both are talented and both are led by seniors and have lots of experience in big games … let’s hope this one lives up to the expectations. All of that said, I think 9 points is a little too high for either team in this game, even if it is played in Kalamazoo. I think Western Michigan wins and keeps their perfect season alive, but they won’t cover the number against a Toledo team that can counter-punch them every possession. I’m taking Toledo plus the 9 points.
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