Miami Beach Bowl Pick
Most of the talk coming into this Game is that Central Michigan is lucky to be here, and not just because it’s in Miami. The Chippewas finished with six wins and one of those happened to be the weird win that shouldn’t have happened against Oklahoma State early in the year. With that being the case, Tulsa is currently a -12.5 point favorite for the Miami Beach Bowl.
The Chips finished a poor 3-5 in MAC play if that says anything about the team as they closed the season losing Four of their last five Games. OUtside of that OK State win, the only other win they had against a team with a winning record was against Ohio, which was a bit surprising.
Tulsa finished 9-3 and 6-2 in Conference play, but this is another team that feasted on the weak. The Golden Hurricane can Scoreon anyone and that’s why they beat all of the weaker teams. The only team they beat all year with a winning record was Memphis. Of course, they also competed in every Game but the Ohio State one and that’s because of the offense that scored 41.3 points per Game. However, they also allowed more than 31 points per Game and that’s going to be the main way that CMU covers this Game.
The Chips were going to have one of the better teams in the Conference because of their offense and senior quarterback, but that didn’t work to plan. Cooper Rush struggled for most of the year and finished with his worst numbers since freshman year. He still had 23 TDs, but interceptions remained a problem (12) and he completed only 61.1% of his passes. Part of those struggles was due to a weaker offensive line that led to the most sacks of his career (33) as well as a weaker (and injured) receiving core. Rush is a good quarterback, but it didn’t work out for him this season.
But Rush can end his college career on a high note because Tulsa’s defense hasn’t stopped any viable offense this year. That was seen earlier in the year in 48-41 and 43-40 wins over Fresno State and SMU, respectively. Because of Rush’s experience, that could easily be the case again. To get to 30 or even 40 points, Rush will need help from top running back Devon Spalding (5.6 yards per carry), who’s battled injuries this year and top wide out Corey Willis (68 receptions, 1,024 yards, 9 TDs). Spalding is questionable to play due to a shoulder injury, so his status should be monitored as backup Jahray Hayes is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
It’s unknown how good CMU’s defense actually is. They haven’t given up a lot of points since the loss to Western Michigan, but MAC offenses aren’t run the same way as Tulsa’s.
The Golden Hurricane were stopped by one team all year and that happened to be Ohio State. There’s almost no question that they’ll put 40 on the board in this one.
Quarterback Dane Evans is having another solid season, even with some of his top targets gone. He’s completing only 58.2% of his passes for 27 TDs and 12 INTs, but he has plenty of help. Tulsa has the best running back duo in the country, at least statistically, with James Flanders (1,529 yards, 17 TDs) and D’Angelo Brewer (1,320 yards, 7 TDs). This offense could also have two 1,000-yard receivers by the end of this Game with Keevan LUcas (1,108 yards, 12 TDs) and Josh Atkinson (927 yards, 7 TDs). Needless to say, but they could make FBS history if Atkinson reaches 1,000 yards.
It was only a couple years ago in the Bahamas that Central Michigan lost in an incredible 49-48 Game against Western Kentucky. Tulsa was in the same situation, losing 55-52 to Virginia Tech last year. If the Chippewas can get back to previous levels offensively, this could be a similarly high-scoring Game.
The Chips are 2-7 ATS in their last nine Games while the Golden Hurricane are 6-1 ATS in their last seven.
Our Pick – We’re going to ride Our model in this one which suggests Tulsa wins this one by more than a couple of TD’s. Tulsa -12.5