Bahamas Bowl Pick
Last year’s Bahamas Bowl was one of the crazier bowls of the season (Western Kentucky beat Central Michigan 49-48). Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee meet this year with each team sporting the same 7-5 overall records as well as 6-2 in Conference play. With the better offense, the Broncos opened as a -3 point favorite as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Western Michigan finished with five losses, but that is somewhat deceiving as two of those came against Michigan State and Ohio State. They then won their first five MAC Games, but faltered against the conference’s best in Bowling Green and Northern Illinois. However, the Broncos still finished with a nice win at Toledo, putting 35 points on a solid defense.
Middle Tennessee’s Schedule isn’t as respectable, but three of its non-Conference losses came against two SEC teams and one Big Ten team. Granted, Illinois and Vanderbilt aren’t good, but the Blue Raiders still only lost those Games by a combined six points. Also, it can’t be ignored that they were blown out against the C-USA’s best teams, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech. The Raiders had six Conference wins and closed the season with Four straight wins, but only one of those was against a team with a winning record. They needed overtime to take down Marshall.
The Blue Raiders have been decent on the defensive side, but struggled against good teams throughout the year. Western Michigan has a balanced attack that scored over 35 points per Game.
The main threat for the Broncos is in the passing Game. Zach Terrell put up similar numbers to last year with 27 TDs and 8 INTs and his two favorite receivers — Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis — have been close to unstoppable. The two have combined for 2,519 yards and 23 touchdowns. This is offense is stellar on the ground as well, although Jarvion Franklin’s campaign of 699 yards and 5 TDs is a disappointment to what he did last year. Jamauri Bogan has gotten the call more as of late and his 836 yards and 12 TDs leads the team.
Western’s defense stepped it up towards the second half of the year against good offenses, but they still couldn’t pull out wins against the better teams. Middle Tennessee has been cruising, but its lack of wins against relevant teams is a bit concerning.
For the Blue Raiders to win, they’ll need quarterback Brent Stockstill to be on his Game. His numbers mirror those of Terrell, but with 80 more pass attempts. Stockstill threw for 300 yards in Four of the final five Games and also finished with 27 TDs and 8 INTs. And also similar to Terrell, Stockstill mainly used only two receivers with Richie James and Ed’Marques Batties combining for 2,180 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Blue Raiders don’t have as good of running Game, which is why they passed the ball more, and that could be an issue in this Game. They average just 3.7 yards per carry as a team.
Last year’s bowl Game featured two high-scoring teams that almost reached 100 combined points with the C-USA coming out on top. In just the second ever Bahamas Bowl, Western is looking to regain the crown for the MAC.
The Broncos have failed to cover in Four straight December Games, and multiple trends point to the under for both of these teams. The Blue Raiders closed the season with Four straight covers as a favorite, while the Broncos ended the season with a road win as a 7-point underdog.
Our Pick – Western Michigan -4.5