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November 22, 2016

There is one pick tonight.

Take Central Michigan -1 spread against Eastern Michigan for 3% of the bankroll.

Both teams come into this contest bowl-eligible this season, but there is something more valuable at stake in this contest; bragging rights! These in-state rivals will square off in what should be an entertaining contest. That being said, we do believe one side holds a decisive advantage tonight.

Central Michigan secured postseason eligibility with a 27-20 victory over Ohio last Tuesday. The victory over the Bobcats ended a three-game losing streak for coach John Bonamego’s team and was the first win in MAC play since a 34-28 victory over Northern Illinois on Oct. 15. While the Chippewas won’t have the added pressure of bowl eligibility hanging over their heads in this contest, there is still plenty at stake for this program. Central Michigan should be in good shape to earn a bowl bid, but a win over their rivals would improve those odds dramatically. Additionally, a victory tonight would only add to the program’s dominance over its in-state rival. The Chippewas own a 59-28-6 advantage in the series and have won 4 straight over the Eagles!

There is certainly no question that Eastern Michigan has made considerable progress under coach Chris Creighton’s tenure, and a win tonight would secure the program’s first winning season since 1995. The Eagles missed a huge opportunity to earn their seventh win last week, losing to Northern Illinois 31-24 in overtime after opening a 21-0 lead in the first half. The Eagles completely imploded in the second half of that game and one has to wonder what effect that will have on their mindset tonight. While they have certainly played much better this season, we also believe they have overachieved. They are not as good a program as Central Michigan and we may be seeing a bit of their regression to the mean as the end of the season approaches. There is a lot of pressure on the Eagles at the moment, from completing their first winning season in two decades to beating their in-state rivals who have dominated this series. While some teams thrive in this kind of pressure, we don't believe Eastern Michigan is at that point just yet. We believe they will cave under the pressure rather than thrive.

Central Michigan will also have the advantage of having the best player on the field in QB Cooper Rush. Rush is the unquestioned leader of Central Michigan’s offense and delivered a clutch performance in last week’s win over Ohio. It’s a safe bet the senior will have plenty of opportunities in the passing game, as Eastern Michigan ranks seventh in the MAC in pass efficiency defense and allows opposing quarterbacks to complete 60.8 percent of their passes. If Rush has time to throw, an Eastern Michigan secondary that has surrendered eight passing plays of 50 yards or more is going to have trouble containing the Chippewas’ downfield attack. In last year’s game, Rush threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns and we wouldn't be surprised to see a similar performance in this contest.

These teams are fairly evenly matched, however with Rush at the helm, Central Michigan can never be counted out. If their defense puts on a similar performance to what they did last week, the Chippewas should make that critical stop late to lead their team to a win and cover.

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