Akron Zips (1-10 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Toledo Rockets (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 20th, 2012, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Akr +18.5/TOL -18.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Mid-American Conference and their early-week feature games on ESPN2 will come to a close this Tuesday night when the Toledo Rockets welcome the Akron Zips into the Glass Bowl in the season finale for both teams.
For Toledo the finale may be a little bittersweet since they had high hopes for the season and dreams of a possible MAC title shot, only to see those hopes and dreams come crashing back down to Earth following back-to-back losses the past two weeks. The Rockets had a glimmer of hope following their, 34-27, loss to Ball State two weeks ago, but all hope was lost for good when they fell short of an upset at Northern Illinois last Wednesday, 31-24.
Now the Rockets will try and get their ninth win of the season and get prepped for a Bowl bid when they take on Akron in the finale.
Chances of getting that ninth win are pretty solid too, considering the Zips continue to be the laughingstock of the MAC with their 1-10 record. If not for a gimme win over Morgan State back in September, Akron would be winless again, since they’ve lost eight straight including the last time they played on November 10th, a 22-14 loss to MAC newcomer Massachusetts.
The oddsmakers aren’t expecting much of a game in the finale either, setting the opening point spread with Toledo as 18.5-point favorites at home.
As of press time the over/under total is still off the board.
The biggest question that needs to be answered when handicapping this game is simple can Akron stop the Rockets from running up the score? Or in another way of putting it, can they score enough to hang around and keep it within the three-score point spread on this game.
Akron’s defense allows 449 yards a game and 35.3 points per game, but in the world of the MAC (where defense is a four-letter word) that’s actually good enough to rank them 7th and 11th in the 13-team league, respectively. When you look at what the Toledo offense brings to the table (456 ypg; 32.7 ppg), it’s not hard to see that the Rockets might turn the game on Wednesday into a track meet with guys like David Fluellen (133 ypg rushing), Bernard Reedy (168.8 all-purp. ypg) and Terrance Owens (278 total offense ypg) knocking each other over to get the ball and take it to the house.
But Akron quarterback Dalton Williams does lead the MAC in passing with 303 yards per game (14th in FBS), he’s not very efficient (25 TD to 16 INT), but he can toss the rock around with the best of them. He threw four interceptions in the UMass loss last time out, but he’ll be going against a Rocket secondary that allows a MAC-worst 299 yards a game, so at least on paper it appears the Zips offense should be able to match their output of 26.4 points per game (8th in MAC).
Toledo does have 16 interceptions and they have taken four back for touchdowns, so it will be important for Williams to protect the ball and not make mistakes if they want to hang with the Rockets. In fact, the biggest difference between these two is in turnover margin, where the Rockets are near the top of the league with a +8, while the Zips are a MAC-worst -15.
Surprisingly, the last time these two faced each other in 2008 the game ended with an Akron victory, 47-30. Of course that was four years and a whole graduated classes worth or players, so it’s hard to take a whole lot from that result. But for what it’s worth the Zips covered as 6.5-point favorites and the final score sailed way over the closing total of 55 in that game.
Historically though Toledo has enjoyed a lopsided advantage in the series, going 6-0 SU and ATS from 1994 through the 2006 seasons, covering numbers as high as 28.5 (in 1995), 21.5 (1997) and 15 (in ’94 and ’96).
Recent betting trends will show you that the Zips are actually a decent bet when they play on the road (4-1 ATS in L5). Combine that with the fact that Toledo has been terrible on Tuesday nights (0-5 ATS in L5 on Tues.), and you might have to take a hard look at going against the chalk in this game.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have a really hard time taking a three-score favorite in any game, even though I do think the Rockets will be determined to finish the year off strong. But when picking the other side means taking Akron, a 1-10 team that may quite possibly be the worst team in the FBS, both ways are a shaky proposition. Akron does have one thing going in it’s favor… The line opened at 18.5 and hasn’t moved despite a whopping 70% of the action coming in on Toledo. If you’re an action junkie, then I suggest a small play on Akron to cover the spread.
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