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The Miami (OH) RedHawks square off against the Central Michigan Chippewas for the Mid-American Conference championship on Saturday afternoon. CMU opened as a 6.5 point favorite and for good reason. The Chippewas are winners of six of their last seven games and beat Toledo 49-7 this past Friday. Miami lost to Ball State 41-27 on Friday to close the regular season. This is the first time these two teams have faced each other this year.
CMU turned to senior quarterback Quentin Dormady midway through the season after starter David Moore got suspended. Dormady has topped 250 yards passing in each of his last five starts. The Chippewas also boast a strong rushing attack led by senior running back Jonathan Ward, who has 1,056 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. Miami won the MAC East Division despite starting freshman Brett Gabbert at quarterback. Gabbert has thrown 10 touchdowns to eight interceptions. The RedHawks aren't an explosive running team, but back Jaylon Bester has seven scores over the last five games.
Miami looks to pull off upsetMiami survived the cannibalistic MAC East Division with just two conference losses to its name, which was enough to clinch a spot in the conference championship game. After starting the year 2-4, the RedHawks went on to win their next five games before losing to Ball State last Friday. Quarterback Brett Gabbert has shown plenty of growth as a freshman though his numbers don't always show it. Gabbert has passed for under 150 yards in three of the last four games. Miami ranks 119th in the country with 170.9 passing yards per game.
The Redhawks aren't any more effective running the ball. They average just 137.8 yards on the ground per game. Most recently, Ball State held Miami to 107 yards rushing. With that said, running back Jaylon Bester has a knack for the end zone, as he's scored a rushing touchdown in eight straight games. In three of those games, he ran for two scores. He's also lost just one fumble all year.
Miami's defense ranks third in the MAC in yards allowed per game (382.6) and sixth in points allowed (28.8). The RedHawks led the conference in holding opposing quarterbacks to a 58% completion rate. Miami recorded the second-most sacks in the MAC (35). Junior defensive back Mike Brown has three interceptions including two returned for touchdowns. Special teams is another source of pride for this team. Senior kicker Sam Sloman led the league with an 84% success rate including 4-5 from 50+ yards.
Central Michigan looks to cap off special yearCentral Michigan head coach Jim McElwain deserves plenty of credit for putting the program in the MAC championship game in his first year on the job. Factor in that CMU made a risky quarterback change midway through the season and McElwain's performance is that much more impressive. Redshirt senior quarterback Quinten Dormady played sparingly in his first four seasons in Mount Pleasant and finally got his chance to lead the ship this year. Dormady has for the most part delivered. Over the last three games, he's completing above 70% of passes. In the one start where he didn't throw a touchdown (at Ball State), he passed for a career-high 356 yards.
CMU has also benefited from a rushing attack that averages 194 yards per game. Senior Jonathan Ward and sophomore Kobe Lewis split carries and have combined for 26 of the team's 33 rushing touchdowns. Expect Ward and Lewis to receive about 35 total carries. Sophomore receiver Kalil Pimpleton is another skill position player to watch out for. He has six touchdown grabs and 771 receiving yards.
The Chippewas rank third in the MAC in scoring defense (26.8 points) and second in yards allowed (358.3). CMU's strength is its rush defense which limits opponents to 118.3 yards per game on the ground. On the flip side, the Chippewas allow an average 228.1 passing yards. CMU is second in the conference in interceptions (12), led by three from sophomore linebacker Troy Brown.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on covers.com, are:
- Chippewas are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous games.
- Chippewas are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Chippewas are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Central Michigan is the more talented and experienced team in this matchup and should be at a considerable geographic advantage (Detroit is about a two hour drive from Pleasant Hill). Senior quarterback Quentin Dormady has four years of experience on Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert which could be a difference-maker. Dormady regularly throws for over 250 yards, whereas Gabbert is lucky to reach half of that. Miami's defense will keep the RedHawks in the game for a half, maybe three quarters, but expect CMU to eventually pull away.
Prediction: Central Michigan Chippewas -6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This game is trending under. Miami's offense averages 24.6 points per game and usually peaks at about four touchdowns when facing solid competition. Central Michigan scores 35.6 ppg but is up against one of the better defenses in the MAC. Buffalo's top scoring defense in the conference held CMU to just 20 points so there is precedent for the Chippewas to struggle against a formidable foe. The under is 4-1 in Miami's last five games overall.
Prediction: Under 53