Bowling Green Falcons (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Toledo Rockets (6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date and Time: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BG +3/Tol. -3
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The top teams in both divisions of the Mid-American Conference will battle in the cold conditions inside the Glass Bowl in Toledo, when they MAC-East leading Bowling Green Falcons travel to take on the tied for MAC-West leading Toledo Rockets in MAC-tion in primetime on ESPN2.
A few weeks ago this game looked like it might be a preview of the MAC Championship game, but that was before the Rockets started going through quarterbacks like tissues.
Toledo was already playing without their opening-day starter Philip Ely (knee) and his backup Logan Woodside last week when they took on MAC-West co-leader Northern Illinois in a first-place showdown, then seven throws into the night third-stringer Michael Julian was forced to leave the game with an injury. To the Rockets credit, they inserted receiver Dwight Macon as an emergency quarterback and continued on, and actually made it a game of it too, before dropping a close one to the Huskies, 27-24.
Bowling Green took a three-game lead in the MAC-East by taking care of business last week in a MAC-tion game versus Kent State, beating the Golden Flashes, 30-20. With only games left and a three-game lead, the Falcons are assured of winning the MAC-East, but playing well against a competitive Toledo team will certainly help the Falcons get ready for the MAC title game and a potential bowl game appearance in December.
Without a confirmed starter at quarterback for Toledo all week, oddsmakers have held off putting a point spread on this game until early Wednesday morning. Although the starter is still yet to be confirmed (likely Macon since Woodside is listed as doubtful), the opening number has the Rockets still listed as 6.5-point favorites. The over/under total opened at 55 and has moved all over the board in just a few hours, with some sportsbooks dropping it the hook to 54.5, while some have moved it up to 55.5 or even 56 at a few books.
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Despite not playing quarterback since his high school days, Macon looked pretty good last week in his emergency role. Clearly an excellent runner with the football (18 carries, 97 yards and 2TD), Macon actually threw it better than the players in front of him on the QB depth chart, finishing 8-for-11 for 140 yards and a touchdown. Considering the Rockets were already one of the top teams in the country running the football (247 ypg 17th) and the fact that the once proud Falcons defense is now a shell of their former selves (allow 507 of total yards a game; 184 ypg rushing), Id expect a steady dose of Macon and running back Kareem Hunt in tonights contest.
Bowling Green will have to score to stay up with the Rockets in this game, so look for quarterback James Knapke to throw it as much as possible. The Falcons already toss it around to the tune of 280 yards per game in the air, and considering the Rockets defense allows 310 yards per game via the pass its a pretty safe bet the ball will be flying tonight despite the cold and less than ideal passing conditions inside the Glass Bowl.
Toledo has won four straight games versus the Falcons in this series between these two school, including a narrow 28-25 win on the road in Bowling Green last season. All told, the Rockets hold a 7-3 SU edge in the matchup going back to 2004, with a nearly perfect 4-1 SU record at home at the Glass Bowl.
Typically the home team is the one to wager on in the series, with home-cooking going for a 4-1 ATS record in the last five head-to-head meetings. Bowling Green has never really had much success in games at Toledo either (1-6 ATS in last seven trips). Perhaps the best betting trend worth taking a risk on would be the under, since the under is actually 7-0 in the last seven meetings between these schools. However, most of those total have closed in the 60s and even the 70s in recent years, and with as bad as these two defenses seem to play, as I said its a risk.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Even with a wide receiver playing quarterback, Toledo is clearly the better team in this game. Im a little surprised the number is almost a full touchdown, but when you look at these two defenses its hard to see how the Falcons will stop the Rockets from putting up Playstation-like numbers on offense. Im taking Toledo minus the points here, especially since the snowy, windy and cold conditions force the Falcons air attack to the ground. Take Toledo minus the 6.5-points.