Ohio Bobcats (7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Week 12 NCAA Football, Wednesday, November 16, 2011, Doyt L. Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, Ohio, TV: ESPN
by Badger, Sports Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OU -6.5/BGSU +6.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Ohio Bobcats are one of the hottest teams in the Mid-American Conference right now and this week theyll continue their late-season push for an East Division title when they travel to Perry Stadium in Bowling Green to take on the Bowling Green Falcons in another nationally televised MAC tilt Wednesday night on ESPN.
The Bobcats crashed the MAC East party a few weeks ago with a huge win over the then undefeated and first-place Temple Owls, 35-31. Last week they remained in the drivers seat in the MAC East with a, 43-28, victory on the road over Central Michigan for their third straight win in a row.
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw for two scores and added one rushing, and running back Beau Blankenship ran for 129 yards and two scores to key the win over the Chippewas last Thursday. With the head-to-head tiebreaker with Temple in their favor the Bobcats can control their own destiny in the final two weeks of the season, with a victory over Bowling Green and a season finale at home against Miami (Ohio) as the obstacles standing in their way.
BG has dropped two straight and five of their last six games to fade at the tape, including last weeks 45-14 loss to Northern Illinois at home in Perry Stadium. The game started out with so much promise too, with an 83-yard scoring strike from Matt Schilz to Kamar Jorden, but that was about the lone highlight for the Falcons all night as they were unable to pull off the upset last week at home.
This week Bowling Green will try and play the role of spoiler by beating Ohio, something they havent done the past two seasons and something they havent done at home in Perry Stadium since the 2005 season.
The oddsmakers are expecting a tough time for the home team on Wednesday, setting the opening point spread with Ohio as 6.5-point favorites on the road. The public is in agreement so far too, since the early action at the window has moved the betting line up to minus -7 at a few offshore sportsbooks on the Web.
As of press time an over/under has yet to be released.
Offensively this game will likely be pretty even, although the Bobcats do have a little better run-pass balance than the Falcons who tend to be very pass-heavy in their spread-shotgun scheme.
With the combo of Blankenship and Tettleton out of the backfield, Ohio is ranked 26th in the NCAA and 5th in the MAC in rushing yards per game with a 204 yards per game average. Bowling Green is further behind with only 124 yards a game, ranked 9th in the MAC, but that may be due to about 80 carries less on the season.
When the two schools pass the ball is when the Falcons close the gap, with Bowling Green and their QB Schilz actually overtaking the Bobcats and Tettleton in the MAC rankings, 267 yards to 260 yards. Both teams also have a feature receiver that they try and get the ball to as often as possible, with the Falcons Jorden (928 yards, 9 TD) and Ohios LaVon Brazill (862 yards, 10 TD) having almost identical numbers in the passing game.
The big difference is in the efficiency of the passing game. Schilz has nearly 50 more attempts this season than Tettleton, but the accuracy (59 to 63 comp. %) and interception totals (11 to 7) are worse. Thats been the problem for Bowling Green, turnovers, as their minus -11 turnover margin is the worst in the 13-team MAC (Ohio is -3).
The Falcons may also face a tough task throwing the ball on the Ohio defense too, since the Bobcats sport the leagues top pass defense efficiency by allowing only a 50.4 completion percentage and they also lead the MAC in interceptions (13). The Bobcats are ranked 3rd in the MAC in total defense, allowing 343 yards a game, whereas the Falcons are further down the list at 9th allowing over 400 yards a game (409 ypg).
I mentioned earlier that Ohio has won two straight in the head-to-head series with Bowling Green, and both of them have been shootouts. Ohio won 49-25 at home in Athens last season, and 44-37 in 2009 the last time they played at Perry Stadium. Both games also covered the point spread for Ohio, since they were favored by 8-points last year and by 2.5-points in 09.
But both of those trends, both straight up and against the spread, are opposite of what happened in previous years. Bowling Green owned the series against Ohio for half a decade prior, winning five straight games SU from 2001 to 2006 as well as covering six straight games ATS from 2000 to 06 so one could argue that the Falcons had the Bobcats number for quite awhile.
The Falcons domination, or having the Bobcats number if you will, is reflected in a few of the betting trends for this game that favor Bowling Green. Those would be the fact that Ohio is only 2-5 ATS in their last seven games at Perry Stadium, and just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 meetings overall.
However, Ohio is 13-5 ATS in their last 18 MAC games (5-2 as road favorite), and the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, so the Bobcats do have some trends in their favor too. Bowling Green is also a depressing 0-4-1 ATS in their last five Wednesday games, and 10-23 ATS at home in Perry Stadium over the years.
The under has a few strong trends to watch for, including a 6-0 mark when the Falcons are listed as home underdogs and 4-1 in their last five games on Wednesday.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With the MAC on television every week Ive had the chance to watch these teams more in depth, and Id say its clear to me that Ohio is the better team. But there is something to say about one team having another teams number (like Ohio has Temples), and I think that is what will keep this game closer than you might think. Ohio will get the cover, but it will be a backdoor one. Im taking Ohio minus the points.
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