Miami (OH) RedHawks (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Temple Owls (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Week 11 NCAA Football, Wednesday, November 9, 2011, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., TV: ESPN
by Badger, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Miami (OH) +12.5/Temple -12.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
After sitting in the drivers seat in the Mid-American Conference East Division for the first few weeks of the season suddenly the Temple Owls find themselves in a must-win situation Wednesday night when they host the Miami (OH) RedHawks at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, if they have any hopes of staying in the MAC East title race that they once led.
Temple was dealt a huge blow last week by a familiar nemesis, the Ohio Bobcats, when the Bobcats sprung a, 35-31, victory over the Owls at home in Athens. The Owls thought they had survived the scare when they took a 31-28 lead with less than five minutes left in the game, but the Bobcats drove the length of the field and plunged the dagger with a 5-yard score with just 1:41 remaining in the game.
Now the Owls will have to try and avoid a repeat of what happened last season, when an upset loss to the Bobcats was followed up by a loss to Miami to give the RedHawks the East Division title. With the sting of last weeks loss still resonating Temple has dropped a full game behind both Ohio and Miami in the East standings, as the familiar scenario is starting to feel like dj vu all over again for the Owls.
Miami enters the Wednesday night tilt in Philly fresh off of an easy, 35-3, victory over the lowly Akron Zips last Thursday. Quarterback Zac Dysert threw for 215 yards and two scores and added another touchdown rushing as the RedHawks turned in one of their most complete games of the season in the lopsided win over Akron.
The win was the second in a row for the RedHawks, albeit against the doormats of the MAC in Akron and Buffalo, who also find themselves in familiar territory with three weeks left to play. Miami appears ready to make their annual late-season title push in the MAC East this year, despite it coming under first-year head coach Don Treadwell and an entirely new staff of coaches.
The view of this seasons Miami RedHawks is a completely different one as far as the oddsmakers in Las Vegas are concerned. How else can you explain why they set the opening point spread for this game with the Temple Owls as rather large 12.5-point favorites at home in the Linc. With the number less than 24 hours old there hasnt been enough action on it yet to cause any line movement either up or down.
As of press time an over/under total has yet to be released.
Offensively these two teams take entirely different approaches toward moving the ball down the field.
Temple likes to feed the ball to one of the best running backs in the college game today, Bernard Pierce. Pierce, who has 1,035 yards and 19 touchdowns already this season, is one of the main reasons why the Owls are ranked in the top ten in the country in running the ball with over 250 yards a game on the ground (258 ypg 8th). However, Pierce was held to 84 yards last week at Ohio, and hes also nursing a sore leg, so hes starting to show the wear and tear of the Owls riding him week in and week out.
In his place quarterback Chris Coyer had a huge game for the Owls last week (8-of-14, 123 and 3 TD; 184 yards rushing on 17 carries), something hell have to duplicate this week against the RedHawks defense to keep them honest.
When the RedHawks have the ball they prefer to allow Dysert play a little pitch-n-catch down the field, with a season average of 271 yards a game coming via the passing game. They dont run it much (only 78 ypg 120th), so its certainly going to be a game of contrasting styles come Wednesday night.
Where these two teams separate themselves is on defense, with Temple featuring one of the best units in the country statistically and the best in the MAC, while the RedHawks defense has been just good enough to keep them in the hunt week to week.
The Owls 10th-ranked overall defense (291 ypg) and 4th-ranked scoring defense (12.8 ppg) played their worst game of the season last week. It was particularly surprising for first-year Owls coach Steve Addazio to watch his defensive unit get driven on for the game winning score at Ohio last week in crunch time, so expect a little pride and redemption on the line this week at home for the Owls.
Meanwhile, the RedHawks defense is one of the best in the land against the pass (179 ypg 10th), but that will matter little against the Owls who pound the ball on the ground. Look for Miami to commit eight or nine men in the box against Pierce and the Owls ground attack, but whether or not it will work will be the big question for the RedHawks on Wednesday.
With only five previous meetings between these two schools it will be hard to rely on history for any insight or betting trends in this game. Temple does hold a 3-2 SU edge over the years, including three in a row from 2007 to 2009. As mentioned earlier, Miami won last years meeting by a 23-3 score with similar circumstances surrounding the game.
The last time the RedHawks traveled to the Linc in Philly they were also considered large underdogs, and despite a 34-32 loss they easily covered the 17-point spread. All told, Miami is 3-2 ATS in the history of these two, including two in a row and 2-1 ATS in the games played in Philly.
The underdog has been the best bet in this series over the years, going 4-0 ATS in the last four tries.
The under also looks like a solid trend bet as well, going 4-1 in the history of the series, 9-3 in Miamis last 12 MAC games and 6-1 in the Owls last seven MAC games as well.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Temple will bounce back in this spot for sure after one of their worst games of the season last Wednesday in primetime, Im just not so sure they are two touchdowns better than the RedHawks right now. I really wish a total was on the board for this game, since I really see this game breaking the mold of all the MAC offensive shootouts we have watched in the past few weeks. When the total is released Im going to strongly consider the under, but until then Im going to lean to Miami to cover. Im taking Miami plus the points.
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