Western Michigan Broncos (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (4-6 SU, 6-4 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Week 12 NCAA Football, Wednesday, November 16, 2011, Fred Yager Stadium, Oxford, Ohio, TV: ESPN2
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WMU +2/MU -2
Even though both teams are virtually eliminated from any Mid-American Conference title talk, there are still several reasons to watch the mid-week tilt between the Western Michigan Broncos and the Miami (OH) RedHawks in Yager Stadium in Oxford Wednesday night on ESPN2.
The biggest reason to watch would be to catch two of the MACs better throwing quarterbacks, when Broncos slinger Alex Carder and the RedHawks Zac Dysert duel head-to-head in primetime.
Another reason would be that its the MAC, where 80-point over/under totals are shredded apart like cheese by halftime, especially with those two QBs playing pitch-n-catch all night.
Western Michigan was directly involved in one of those MAC-type of games last week, in a 66-63 loss at Toledo last Tuesday. Carder threw for 548 yards and seven, yes seven, touchdowns in the game that featured 10 turnovers and 1,400 yards of total offense.
Miami had a two-game winning streak snapped last Wednesday at Temple, 24-21. Dysert threw for 364 yards and three scores and the RedHawks outplayed the Owls for the most part, but three killer turnovers including two interceptions by Dysert crushed Miamis hopes of staying alive in the MAC East title chase.
With little more to play for other than pride these two will go at it Wednesday night it what could prove to be a more exciting game to watch than the other MAC game going on just a few channels down the dial.
Judging by the opening point spread for this game the oddsmakers are expecting a better game in Yager Stadium too, setting the opening number with Miami as slim 2-point favorites at home. There are a few offshore sportsbooks that have dropped the number to minus -1.5 in favor of the RedHawks, as the early money in this game appears to be coming in on Western Michigan.
As of press time an over/under total has yet to be released.
If youre a fan of spread formations and 60 pass attempts per game, then youre going to love this one because it will feature the top two passing offenses in the MAC. Western Michigan is tops in the league with over 318 yards a game in the air, while Miami is 2nd at 280 yards a clip.
One of the biggest differences is that the Broncos are much better at converting all of those passes into points, with a 33.5 points per game average to just a 22 point average for Miami. Part of the reason for the RedHawks scoring issues can be found up front in the offensive line, which has allowed Dysert to be sacked a whopping 35 times this season.
Since this game features passing schemes and passing quarterbacks, its only logical that it will also showcase two of the MACs top receivers too. Western Michigans Jordan White (111 rec., 1,402 yards, 12 TD) and Miamis Nick Harwell (1,124 yards, 5 TD) will present matchup problems on the outside all night, so defending those two will become a priority for the opposing defense.
But defense is also where there is a big difference between the two schools.
Miami is ranked 4th in the MAC in total defense (345 ypg), but 1st in pass defense allowing just a meager 171 yards a game, so something will have to give as they say in that department. The RedHawks can also bring pressure, registering 21 sacks in their 10 games thus far in 2011.
Western Michigan is at the other end of the spectrum ranked 12th in total defense in the MAC (453 ypg) and 8th in pass defense allowing 217 yards a game. Part of the issues for the Broncos defense is all of the passing their offense does, as the Broncos time of possession (28 minutes -13th in MAC) forces the defense to play a huge number of snaps each week.
Since these two are in opposite division of the MAC they dont meet on the gridiron every year, which explains why theyve only played four times since 2001. In those four games its been an even split, with Miami winning in 2001 (25-11 at home in Yager Stadium) and 2004 (42-21 in Kalamazoo) and Western Michigan winning the last two games in 2006 (27-24 at home) and 2009 (48-26 at home).
Most of the betting trends favor the home team in this game. Not only is Western Michigan lousy on the road (5-11-1 in L17 as road dog), but Miami is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games at home and 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall. However, the RedHawks are not very good in the favorites role, going 4-10 in the last 14 games theyve played as a home favorite.
The over/under trends are mixed, with most of the over trends coming on the Broncos side of the equation (over is 5-1 in L6, 7-3 as road dog) and most of the under trends coming from the Miami side (under 7-2 in L9 as favorite, 9-4 in L13 MAC games).
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think Western Michigan is the better team, but they just dont win on the road (1-5) so I have a hard time backing them in this spot. Plus, the Broncos could have a hard time throwing on Miami this week. Ill probably pass on this game, but if I had to pick a side Id probably lean toward the RedHawks at home.
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