Wednesday's MAC Tip Sheet
November 15, 2017
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards owns a 48-32 record (60.0%, +13.1 units) in college football this season. Brian is ranked third in both overall money and winning percentage out of 37 college-football handicappers on VI! Don't miss out on any of his pay-if-they-win-only selections for Week 12!
#MACtion takes center stage tonight with a trio of conference games televised.
Let’s have an in-depth look at two of those games, in addition to a few notes on the other and some injury and statistical tidbits from across the country for Week 12. Let’s do it!
**Western Michigan at Northern Illinois**
-- Northern Illinois (7-3 straight up, 6-4 against the spread) won at least 11 games from 2010-2014 before going 13-13 combined in ’15 and ’16, including a 5-7 mark last year. In Rod Carey’s fifth season at the helm, however, the Huskies have gone 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS at home. They find themselves in a first-place tie with Toledo – both teams are 5-1 in league play – atop the MAC West standings. However, the Rockets won a 27-17 decision over NIU on Nov. 2, so the Huskies must win their last two league games and hope that Toledo drops one of its two remaining contests to win the division. Western Michigan and Central Michigan aren’t eliminated yet, either. CMU is 5-2 in MAC play, while WMU is 4-2 but has head-to-head matchups with NIU and Toledo to close the regular season.
-- NIU bounced back from the loss at Toledo by smashing Ball State 63-17 as a 29.5-point home favorite last Thursday. The spread cover halted a 1-4 ATS slide for the Huskies, who saw the 80 combined points soar ‘over’ the 50.5-point total. Marcus Childers, a redshirt freshman quarterback, threw for 141 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Senior RB Jordan Huff rushed six times for 57 yards and one TD, and he also had a 24-yard TD catch.
-- As of early this morning, most betting shops had NIU installed as a nine-point home favorite with a total of 52. Gamblers could take the Broncos on the money line for a +275 return (risk $100 to win $275).
-- NIU has compiled a 2-2 spread record in four games as a home ‘chalk’ this year, going 11-12 in 23 such spots during Carey’s five-year tenure. However, the Huskies are 8-4 ATS in their last 12 such spots.
-- Childers became the starting QB in October. He has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,253 yards with a 13/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Childers has also rushed for 403 yards and four TDs while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Huff has run for a team-best 507 yards and two TDs, averaging 5.6 YPC.
-- NIU is ranked 20th in the nation in total defense, eighth at defending the run and 17th in scoring defense, allowing 18.8 points per game. This unit features last year’s second-team All-MAC selection in current senior CB Shawun Lurry, who has recorded 18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four passes broken up, two interceptions for one TD and 145 return yards and one QB hurry. The NIU defense is led by senior LB Bobby Jones, who probably would’ve earned All-MAC honors in 2016 if not for sustaining a season-ending injury in Week 8. He has produced a team-best 80 tackles this year to go along with four sacks, seven TFL’s, one interception and one QB hurry.
-- Western Michigan (6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS) is 2-2 both SU and ATS in four road assignments this season. The Broncos are 1-1 ATS as road underdogs in Tim Lester’s first season at the helm since replacing P.J. Fleck, who parlayed last year’s 13-0 regular-season record (coupled with a MAC Championship Game win) into scoring the head-coaching job at Minnesota. Going back to 2014, WMU is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as a road ‘dog.
-- Western Michigan was locked into a 31-31 tie at Southern Cal midway through the fourth quarter of its season opener at The Coliseum. However, the Trojans scored 17 unanswered points down the stretch to win a 49-31 decision. Nevertheless, the Broncos covered the number as 28-point road underdogs. The same couldn’t be said of their Week 2 showdown at Michigan State in East Lansing. The Spartans won 28-14 as seven-point home ‘chalk.’
-- Lester’s team responded to the 0-2 start with four consecutive wins before losing a 14-13 decision to Akron as a 12.5-point home favorite. The Broncos responded with a 20-17 overtime win at Eastern Michigan to get the cash as 2.5-point road ‘chalk.’ However, WMU allowed a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to get away in a 35-28 home loss to Central Michigan on Nov. 1. It would bounce back with last Wednesday’s 48-20 win over Kent State as a 20.5-point home favorite. With sophomore starting QB Jon Wassink sidelined with a collarbone injury that’ll keep him out of the rest of the regular season, WMU has turned to true freshman Reece Goddard as its starter under center the last two games. He hasn’t been effective, completing only 6-of-18 throws for 42 yards with one interception in the home loss to CMU. Goddard wasn’t much better in the win over Kent St., connecting on only 8-of-19 passes for 97 yards, although he did have one rushing TD. Senior RB Jarvion Franklin led he way against the Golden Flashes with 191 rushing yards and one TD on 22 attempts. The Broncos got a pair of pick-sixes from Robert Spillane (35 yards) and Darius Phillips (43 yards) against the Cardinals.
-- Franklin, who became the school’s all-time leading rusher in October, has rushed for 1,061 yards and 10 TDs in 2017. He’s averaged 5.5 yards per carry and also has five catches for 35 yards and one TD. Franklin has rushed for at least 104 yards in five straight games. His arrival in Kalamazoo in 2014 sparked WMU’s revival, as it went from 1-11 in ’13 to winning 8, 8 and 13 games since he’s been on campus. Franklin was the MAC’s Offensive Player of the Year as true freshman when he rushed for a career-best 1,551 yards and 14 TDs with a 5.1 YPC average.
-- Before getting injured, Wassink was enjoying a stellar sophomore campaign. He had completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,391 yards with a 14/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Wassink had also rushed for 126 yards and three TDs.
-- One reason for Franklin’s increased production in recent weeks is the sudden lack of depth for WMU at the RB position. Sophomore LeVante Bellamy, junior Jamauri Bogan and Davon Tucker have each been lost to season-ending injuries recently. Bogan has rushed or 589 yards and three TDs while averaging 5.3 YPC, while Bellamy had run for 394 yards and three TDs with an 8.0 YPC average. Meanwhile, Tucker had 143 rushing yards, three TDs and a 4.3 YPC average. We can add another offensive piece to the season-ending injury list, as sophomore WR Giovanni Ricci (12 catches for 80 yards) is done for the year due to an injury to his spleen. And finally, sophomore safety Davontae Ginwright is out for the year with a knee injury. Ginwright had 50 tackles and one tackle for loss in the team’s first eight games.
-- Spillane, a second-team All-MAC selection in 2016 when he had a team-high 111 tackles, three interceptions, 7.5 TFL’s and three sacks, is one again leading the Broncos in tackles with 69. He has the aforementioned pick-six, 8.5 TFL’s, 1.5 sacks, three QB hurries and one PBU. Phillips, a senior CB who garnered first-team All-MAC honors last season when he had four interceptions, nine PBU and two TDs on special teams, is making even more plays this year. Phillips has scored four TDs, two on special teams and two on defense. He has 32 tackles, 10 PBU, two forced fumbles, one sack, four TFL’s, the aforementioned pick-six, one scoop-and-score fumble recovery for a 67-yard TD and 849 all-purpose yards via defensive returns, special-teams return yards, two catches on offense and one rushing attempt.
-- WMU is ranked 14th in the nation in rushing yards and 23rd in points scored with its 36.6 PPG average.
-- The ‘under’ is 6-4 overall for NIU, 3-2 in its home contests, but the ‘over’ has cashed in three of its last four outings regardless of the venue. The Huskies have seen their games average combined scores of 49.1 points per game.
-- The ‘over’ is 7-3 overall for the Broncos, 2-2 in their road games. They’ve seen the ‘over’ go 6-2 in their last eight outings and for the season, their games have averaged combined scores of 64.2 PPG.
-- NIU has won seven in a row over WMU in this rivalry, going 5-1-1 ATS in the process, until losing 45-30 at WMU last year. Nevertheless, the Huskies improved to 13-2-1 ATS in the last 16 encounters by covering the spread as 17.5-point road underdogs. Franklin stole the show for the Broncos, rushing for 169 yards and one TD on 31 carries. He also had three receptions for 80 yards and one TD. Huff had 79 rushing yards for NIU on just nine attempts in the losing effort.
-- Kickoff on ESPN2 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
**Toledo at Bowling Green**
-- As of early this morning, most books had Toledo (8-2 SU, 5-5 ATS) installed as a 17-point favorite with a total of 66. The Falcons were +600 on the money line (risk $100 to win $600).
-- Jason Candle’s team is 3-2 both SU and ATS on the road. Toledo still controls its own destiny to win the MAC West if it prevails in its last two regular-season games. The Rockets host Western Michigan next Friday, but they’ll first look to respond tonight to their first MAC loss last week at Ohio by a 38-10 count. Candle’s squad had only one loss previously at still-unbeaten Miami in a game Toledo led at halftime and was down only eight midway through the final stanza. But the Bobcats dealt out woodshed treatment last Wednesday in Athens, cruising to an easy victory as three-point home underdogs. Senior QB Logan Woodside completed 24-of-35 passes for 263 yards and one TD without an interception, but Ohio enjoyed a 532-316 advantage in total offense.
-- For the season, Woodside has connected on 64.8 percent of his passes for 2,919 yards with a 20/2 TD-INT ratio. Since the start of the ’16 campaign, Woodside has 65 TD passes compared to merely 11 interceptions.
-- Toledo is ranked 11th in the nation in total offense, 22nd in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards and 25th in scoring with a 36.1 PPG average. This production has come despite losing Woodside’s favorite target, senior WR Cody Thompson, to a season-ending leg injury in early October. Thompson was a first-team All-MAC selection last year.
-- Senior RB Terry Swanson has rushed for a team-high 853 yards and 11 TDs with a 5.1 YPC average, but he had to leave last week’s loss at Ohio after just six rushing attempts for nine yards. The sprained ankle has him listed as ‘doubtful’ tonight. Swanson had run for at least 100 yards in four straight games and six of the last seven before the loss at Ohio. The Rockets have depth in the backfield, though. Shakif Seymour has run for 544 yards for six TDs with a 6.6 YPC average, while Art Thompkins has 466 rushing yards, one TD and a 5.5 YPC average. Diontae Johnson has a team-best 55 receptions for 1,003 yards and nine TDs.
-- Toledo owns a 3-1 spread record in four games as a road favorite this year. The Rockets are 4-2 ATS as road ‘chalk’ during Candle’s two-year tenure, but they’re 8-2 ATS in their last 10 such spots dating back to the 2014 regular-season finale.
-- Bowling Green (2-8 SU, 2-8 ATS) picked up its first win at Miami (OH.) by a 37-29 count as a 17-point underdog on Oct. 7. The Falcons had started the season 0-5 both SU and ATS, seeing the ‘under’ go 4-0-1. After beating the RedHawks, they dropped back-to-back home games both SU and ATS before avoiding a three-game losing streak with a 44-16 win at Kent State on Oct. 31. Bowling Green covered the number as a 1.5-point road favorite thanks to the play of true freshman QB Jarret Doege, who completed 14-of-18 passes for 174 yards and two TDs without an interception. Another true freshman, RB Andrew Clair, rushed for 111 yards and one TD on just eight carries. Josh Cleveland contributed 60 rushing yards and one TD on 17 attempts.
-- Bowling Green took its eighth loss of the year last Tuesday when it came up on the wrong side of a 38-28 decision at Buffalo. Mike Jinks’s team failed to cover the spread as a seven-point underdog. The Bulls led 28-21 going into the fourth quarter, but Adam Mitcheson’s 31-yard field goal put them up 10. However, the Falcons moved ahead of the number on Doege’s two-yard TD pass to Scott Miller with 12:04 left. Buffalo got the cover when Theo Anderson’s eight-yard TD scamper provided the final scoring. Doege connected on 28-of-43 passes for 294 yards and three TDs without an interception. Clair rushed 18 times for 85 yards and one TD, while Miller finished with 10 receptions for 108 yards and one TD. B-Green was undone by three lost fumbles.
-- Doege will get his third straight start under center for the Falcons. He has completed 65.9 percent of his throws for 855 yards with a 6/1 TD-INT ratio. Miller has 52 catches for 576 yards and three TDs, while Teo Redding has 41 receptions for 526 yards and five TDs. Clair has run for a team-best 650 yards and four TDs while averaging 7.3 YPC. Meanwhile, Cleveland has 596 rushing yards, three TDs and a 5.9 YPC average.
-- Toledo has won seven in a row over Bowling Green while going 4-2-1 ATS. The Rockets won a 42-35 decision last year, but the Falcons easily covered the number as 31.5-point road underdogs. The ‘under’ has cashed in nine consecutive games in this rivalry until last season’s 77 combined points went ‘over’ the 71-point total on Kareem Hunt’s three-yard, game-winning TD run with 18 ticks remaining. Woodside threw for 322 yards and four TDs, while Swanson had 112 rushing yards and one TD on 12 attempts. In the losing effort, Miller had eight receptions for 149 yards and three TDs.
-- Bowling Green is 0-3 ATS as a home underdog this year, 1-4 in five such spots under Jinks. The Falcons are winless in four home games this season both SU and ATS.
-- Totals have been an overall wash for Toledo (5-5), with the ‘under’ going 3-2 in its five road assignments.
-- The ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive Bowling Green games to improve to 5-4-1 overall, 2-2 in its home games. The Falcons have seen their games average combined scores of 59.2 PPG.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- The third MAC game on tonight’s card is Eastern Michigan (+3 or +3.5) at Miami (OH). The Eagles are +145 on the money line for this 7:00 p.m. Eastern kick on the CBS Sports College Network. The total was 49.5. Eastern Michigan owns a 5-0 spread record as a road underdog this year. Going back further, the Eagles are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 spots as road ‘dogs.
-- The MAC East standings were shaken up last night when Akron beat Ohio 37-34 as a 14.5-point home underdog. This gives the Zips the lead in the division by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bobcats, who share a 5-2 MAC record with Akron. The Zips get 2-9 Kent State at home next week, while Frank Solich’s team is at Buffalo. In other words, Akron is the driver’s seat and then some to make the MAC Championship Game for the first time during Terry Bowden’s six-year tenure. Akron redshirt freshman QB Kato Nelson stole the show with 322 passing yards and four TDs without an interception.
-- Texas junior OT Connor Williams, a second-team All Big 12 pick as a true freshman in ’15 and a first-team All-American as a sophomore last season, will return to the starting lineup for the Longhorns on Saturday at West Virginia. Williams has been out since injured since late September. On a negative note, junior DB P.J. Locke is ‘out’ at WVU with an ankle injury. Locke has recorded 32 tackles, 2.5 TFL’s and one PBU. Also, WR Dorian Leonard (18 catches for 147 yards) is ‘out’ with a foot injury.
-- The ‘over’ has hit in six straight Arizona games since star QB Khalil Hill became the starting QB. Those combined scores have been 77, 84, 95, 89, 77 and 87 points.
-- Syracuse QB Eric Dungey is ‘questionable’ at Louisville this Saturday.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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