Western Michigan more than likely won’t make the College Football Playoff, but reaching the Cotton Bowl seems like the best destination with a win in the MAC championship. For a MAC team, that’s beyond expectations for the Broncos. As expected, they opened as huge -18.5 point favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook for the Game against Ohio at Ford Field in Detroit.
Western has been lights out this year, hence the undefeated record. The Broncos have cruised through the MAC while also getting some decent wins in non-Conference play (Northwestern, Illinois, Georgia Southern). Sure, those aren’t over the top great, but all are respectable for a ‘Group of Five’ school. In a Game against arguably the second-best team in the MAC (Toledo) last week, the Broncos won by 20 points.
Ohio isn’t a bad team, which is why they’re in this Game. However, the Bobcats are far from the same level as WMU. They battled Tennessee in non-conference, but an opening loss to Texas State wasn’t great. Even in MAC play, they struggled despite the 6-2 record. Their two losses came against mediocre Eastern and Central Michigan with a number of close wins. The Bobcats won at Toledo 31-26, which may have been the best they played all season. To compete in this Game, they’ll need to play even better.
The problem for most MAC teams against Western is that no one can stop their offense. Quarterback Zach Terrell has been untouchable in his senior season, throwing an unconscious 30 touchdowns to just one interception. With how much he throws the ball (318 attempts), one interception is slightly unimaginable. Throw in some mobility and six touchdowns on the ground and no one in the MAC can match him. His favorite weapon, Corey Davis, has 17 touchdowns, which is the norm for him.
What pushes this offense over the top is a solid ground Game with a dominant one-two punch. Jarvion Franklin has the better numbers on the season, but Jamauri Bogan has battled injuries throughout the season and may be the better back. He ran for 198 yards against Toledo last week.
Ohio’s defense is their strong suit, but they lost to EMU and CMU for a reason. The defense can’t win every Game by itself like when they beat Akron 9-3 last time out.
Offensively, the Bobcats have questions, which obviously isn’t a good thing against WMU. The main issue is that regular starting quarterback Greg Windham is injured and has barely played in the last month. He’s questionable in this one, but even if he plays, has thrown just nine TDs to three picks this season. If he can’t go, freshman Quinton Maxwell would draw the start again. He led the offense to nine points against Akron last week.
When these teams met last year earlier in the season, Ohio was actually favored by a field goal. The Broncos weren’t as good in 2015, partly due to injuries, but they still won this matchup 49-14 with the help of Four total TDs from Terrell and 430 rushing yards. Stopping this Western offense doesn’t seem like a possibility for any MAC defense at this point.
The Broncos are 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 6-1 ATS in their last seven Friday Games. The Bobcats are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 Friday Games and 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The over has hit in Four straight meetings between these two teams with WMU going 6-1 ATS in the last seven matchups.
Our Pick – Western Michigan -18.5