It’s not quite MACtion, though that starts next week (#blessed), but everybody’s favorite conference is still in the Thursday night spotlight this week. There are two MAC matchups, with Akron laying a big number on the road against Buffalo and this game that we’re going to preview right here at HunterSportsPicks.com. The Ohio Bobcats are on the road against the Toledo Rockets at the Glass Bowl in what looks to be a chilly, rainy night near the Ohio/Michigan border.
Ohio vs. Toledo College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday October 27, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes
College Football Betting Favorite: Toledo -16
Before we dig into this game, let’s start with an interesting history lesson. From 1835-36, there was basically a Cold War centered around disputed land on the Ohio/Michigan border that included the Lake Erie port city of Toledo. One person was wounded during this two-year stalemate. Michigan’s loss of financial resources, and possible bankruptcy, to fund a militia to defend the Michigan Territory became a big point of contention for government officials in the territory, especially when the U.S. Treasury offered a distribution of $400,000 to the 25 states in 1836. Ohio became a state in 1803, so they were offered the funds. Michigan, then still a territory, realized its financial losses and passed a resolution to give the disputed territory to Ohio and became a state just over a month later. Michigan residents rejected the resolution, making it the first of many times, especially in recent years, that Michigan has lost to the state of Ohio and hasn’t liked it.
With that, let’s move on to this game. Ohio is off to a very solid start under longtime coach Frank Solich. The Bobcats are a 5-3 team straight up and a 4-4 team against the number. Those that have been paying attention to Ohio games have cashed seven of eight under tickets. Toledo is 6-1 straight up and 5-2 against the spread in Jason Candle’s first year at the helm. Candle, the former offensive coordinator, took over when Matt Campbell left for Iowa State. The Rockets could very well be 7-0, as they scored 53 points in a crazy loss at BYU.
If exciting football is your thing, the Ohio Bobcats aren’t really for you. They’re a very methodical team, relying on the ground work of Dorian Brown and dual-threat quarterback Greg Windham. This has been a staple of the Bobcats offense dating back to the days of Tyler Tettleton and his predecessors. Windham has completed 56 percent of his throws this season with an 8/3 TD/INT ratio and he’s run for 350 yards on 78 carries. Brown has a 5.7 average on his 72 scampers with the ball. Maleek Irons and Bo Hardy have also gotten steady work. It’s very important to point out that a couple of outliers skew some of Ohio’s numbers. A triple overtime thriller against Texas State in Week 1 stands out and so do 37-point outbursts against Kansas and Gardner-Webb. The Bobcats have scored 81 points in their four MAC games.
Ohio’s defense has played pretty well in the first halves of games, but they have struggled in the second half. Ohio has only allowed 24.2 points per game and five yards per play this season, which would be the best mark since 2009. They have given up just 6.9 points while playing some nice defense in the first half. This could speak to a lack of depth for the Bobcats and we know that Toledo’s relentless offense just keeps coming. Ohio has forced 17 turnovers, which ties them for ninth nationally in that department. They’ll have to force some turnovers here to have a shot as almost a three-score dog.
The Rockets are a machine. Toledo has scored at least 31 points in every game this season and they scored 53 in their only loss of the season. Perception may have gotten a little bit out of hand about the Rockets, though. They failed to cover as a three-touchdown favorite at Eastern Michigan and as a 31.5-point favorite in a rivalry game two weeks ago against Bowling Green. What we do know about Toledo, however, is that they can move the football. The Rockets average 7.3 yards per play, which is well above anything that they did with Campbell at the helm. They’ve scored 41.3 points per game, but they have been a slow starter, with just 15.3 points per game in the first half. They simply wear teams down with tempo. Logan Woodside has thrown 28 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. Kareem Hunt leads the charge in the running game with 4.9 yards per carry.
On the defensive side, Toledo has played well for the most part. They have a bend, but don’t break style, with 5.8 yards per play allowed, but just 5.3 points against per game in the first half. They’ve only given up 22.4 points per contest. Toledo also hasn’t played a lot of great offensive teams. Bowling Green hung a number and so did BYU, but that’s about it. For a team that lost three of its top four tacklers from last season, there were signs of a drop-off before the year and some of their stats suggest that this group has been a little bit fortunate. The Rockets have allowed 211 yards per game through the air on an average of just 15 completions, so teams can get big plays.
College Football Free Pick: Ohio Bobcats +16
Truthfully, a better way to play this game is probably to take Ohio +9 or 10 in the first half as the market drives this number up and then look to come back on Toledo in the second half. The Rockets have blown teams away as their adjustments and tempo wear down the opposition. Frank Solich should have a good defensive game plan and Ohio’s slower tempo with a lot of runs should be enough to keep the ball away from Toledo and keep this game fairly low-scoring. These two teams have not played in several years and Ohio hasn’t been to the Glass Bowl since 2007, so there could be a feeling out process early.
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