Tuesday MAC Pick: Ohio vs. Miami-Ohio

by | Nov 7, 2022 | cfb

Ohio Bobcats (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Miami-Ohio RedHawks (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS)
When: Tuesday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Yager Stadium, Oxford, Ohio
TV: ESPN2
Point Spread: OHIO -1.5/M-OH +1.5
Total: O/U 50.5

Outlook

The road to Detroit now goes through Ohio, as the Bobcats are in first place in the MAC East and will win the division if they can claim their final three league games. Ohio is bowl eligible for the first time since 2019, and they have a reasonable finish to the league schedule. If they can best Miami, Ball State, and Bowling Green, they’ll be going to Detroit to play for a MAC title, something they’ve not won since 1968.

Miami is the last Eastern Division team to win the MAC title, which it did in 2019. Since then, the RedHawks have slipped a little, coming back to the pack in 2020 and falling short of winning the East because they ended up just behind Kent State. This was supposed to be Miami’s year, especially after beating the Golden Flashes, but the RedHawks have fallen off in a big way and now have a tough ask just to make it to a bowl game. Miami has to win at least two of its final three games to play in the postseason, and the offense suddenly isn’t scoring anywhere near enough points. Still, it’s the Battle of the Bricks, and Miami hasn’t forgotten how Ohio has mostly dominated this rivalry in recent years. The Bobcats have won 12 of the past 15 matchups, although Miami has claimed victory in two of the past three meetings. Can they piece together a top game and ruin their rival’s hopes at league glory?

How the Public is Betting the Ohio/Miami-Ohio Game

The public is leaning toward Ohio, but only slightly. The line hasn’t moved from -1.5, but there are some books that are suggesting that the spread is about to fall to -1, even as 56% of tickets come in on Ohio. The total has not budged.

Injury Concerns

Ohio:
Running back O’Shaan Allison (shoulder) is out.

Miami-Ohio:
Running back Jaylon Bester (undisclosed) is out.

When Ohio Has the Ball

Remember the name Sam Wiglusz. The ex-Ohio State receiver never got much of a chance in Columbus, but the coaching staff there raved about his ability. Wiglusz made the move an hour southeast down U.S. 33, and he has thrived in Athens. He leads Ohio with nine touchdown receptions, and he’s the first name Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke looks for on the field.

He’s also a big reason why Rourke is putting together such an outstanding season. Ohio’s history is that of a ground team, but under Tim Albin, the Bobcats have shed that label and taken to the skies. Rourke has thrown for 21 touchdowns against just four interceptions, and he’s leading the MAC in passing yards. Ironically, the run game has become an afterthought this season in Athens, as Sieh Bangura is far from the Bobcats’ first option to move the ball. Ohio only averages 122.4 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 10th in the MAC and 102nd in the nation. But teams just cannot stop Ohio’s aerial assault, as the only ones who have succeeded were Power 5 opponents Iowa State and Penn State.

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When Miami-Ohio Has the Ball

Miami’s offense has headed in the wrong direction this year. After Brett Gabbert’s injury in the third game of the season, Miami turned to Aveon Smith and simplified the offense, resulting in several successes that had the RedHawks on top of the East. When Gabbert returned, Miami turned the offense back over to him, but the switch back hasn’t worked out. Gabbert doesn’t have the legs that Smith does, and his passing was never all that great, to begin with. As a result, Miami features the weakest passing attack in the entire conference at 149.3 yards per game.

If the RedHawks were running the ball well, that would be one thing. But their best runner is now the backup quarterback, as Smith’s mobility gave Miami opponents something else to worry about. Without him on the field, Keyon Mozee, Tyre Shelton, and Kenny Tracy haven’t been able to establish themselves as a real threat on the ground. And that might not matter in this game anyway because the secondary is easily the weakest part of the Ohio defense. You can run on the Bobcats with the right attack and game plan, as Northern Illinois showed, but most teams try to throw because Ohio gives up 324.2 yards per game through the air. Gabbert has to be better to win this game, and there is one bit of good news here. He did have a strong showing last year against Ohio, throwing for 492 yards and five scores in a losing effort.

Betting Trends

Taking Ohio plus a field goal has been a certain winner for a long, long time in this rivalry. The Bobcats have won 12 of the past 15 meetings straight up, and the three losses were all by three points or less. These teams also don’t usually give up a lot of points to each other. Last year was a notable exception, with the teams combining for 68 points, but usually, the under is the play. It’s cashed in nine of the past 12 meetings and five straight times in Oxford.

Weather Report

This is likely to be a classic November MACtion game. Temperatures are set to fall to about 34 degrees by the end of the evening, with the wind blowing east-northeast at six miles per hour. No rain is expected.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

The way that you beat Ohio is simply not the way that Miami wins football games. The RedHawks are stubbornly sticking with Gabbert even though Smith gives this team the better chance to win. Meanwhile, Ohio knows its identity and is hitting on all cylinders. There’s a lot to like about this team, and the Bobcats traditionally play well in Oxford.

I’m backing Ohio to cover the small number.