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November 8, 2017

There is one pick tonight.
 

Take Ohio +4 spread (buy the half point) against Toledo for 3% of the bankroll.

Two of the top teams in the MAC conference square off tonight in what could be a pre-cursor to this season's title game in a couple of weeks. Toledo coach Jason Candle is one of college football’s rising stars. Since taking over the program after Matt Campbell left for Iowa State following the 2015 regular season, Candle is 18-5 overall and is 11-2 in MAC play. The Rockets have one of the top offenses in the nation this season and have scored 30 points on a tough Miami defense in late September, albeit in a losing effort, however, their defeat to the Hurricanes are their only loss on the season thus far. They have won three out of their last four games in conference play by 20 or more points and will unquestionably be the more flashy and prolific offense in this matchup, however, they will surely be in for a tough test against arguably the best defense in the conference.

Under the leadership of coach Frank Solich, the Ohio Bobcats are one of the MAC’s most consistent programs. The Bobcats have earned postseason trips in seven out of the last eight seasons and are on track for another appearance in 2017. Additionally, Ohio won the East Division last season and gave Western Michigan all it could handle in Detroit. The Bobcats are 7-2 overall through nine games and tonight's game versus Toledo is the final home game of 2017 which should only add to the motivation of the players to end the season in front of their home crowd with a win.

After tossing 45 touchdowns and 4,129 passing yards last season, Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside is having another prolific year. The senior has passed for 2,656 yards and 19 touchdowns through nine games and is completing 64.3 percent of his throws this season. In addition to his accuracy and the ability to hit the underneath routes, Woodside leads all MAC quarterbacks with seven completions of 50 yards or more. Ohio will counter Toledo’s high-powered passing attack with a secondary ranked fifth in the MAC in pass efficiency defense. The Bobcats have allowed the fewest completions (two) of 40 or more yards of any defense in the MAC. For Ohio to slow down Woodside and provide some protection for its secondary, the defensive line needs to win the one-on-one battles in the trenches and this defense has excelled at getting to the quarterback in 2017, as Solich’s group ranks second in the MAC in sacks with 22 on the season.

Considering the firepower on Toledo’s offense, Ohio’s best defense could come in the form of its offense. The Bobcats own one of the MAC’s top rushing attacks, averaging 232.9 yards per game. This offense averages 5.5 yards per carry and has scored 31 times on the ground through nine games. Running back A.J. Ouellette leads the offense with 827 yards and has reached pay dirt six times on 140 carries. But he’s not the only threat in the backfield, as Solich’s team will mix in Dorian Brown (458 yards). Ouellette and Brown form an effective one-two punch, but the insertion of quarterback Nathan Rourke into the starting lineup has also sparked this offense. Rourke replaced Quinton Maxwell under center for the Week 3 game against Kansas and has passed for 1,504 yards and 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions. The offense got a boost in the passing game last week, as Papi White returned from injury to catch five passes for 80 yards and a score against Miami. While Rourke’s passing skills are solid, he’s been just as much of a factor on the ground. The sophomore has rushed for 553 yards and leads all Bobcats with 16 rushing scores. Additionally, Rourke has posted three games of more than 100 rushing yards and recorded 54 on 10 carries in last week’s win over Miami OH.

In a contrast of styles, this game is likely going to come down to which team can implement their style of play more effectively. If Ohio can establish the run and get chunk yards on the ground, they can dominate the time of possession and keep the potent Toledo offense at bay. If they managed to get a lead in this contest, it will make things much easier on their defense as the Rockets and Woodside will be forced into obvious passing situations, which should allow the defense to pin their ears back and do what they have done best all season and that is get after the quarterback. Toledo has thrived on big plays all season long and the Bobcats have been one of the best teams in the country at limiting the big play. If they can force Toledo to play methodical football and drive the length of the field, they will have a great chance at pulling off the outright win in this contest.

Playing on a weeknight, in what is Ohio's last home game of the season, we expect the Bobcats and their fans to be fired up and give the Rockets all they can handle. They are certainly capable of pulling off the outright win at home, but even if they fall short, we expect this game to have a championship feel and wouldn't be surprised if it was decided by a field goal in the final possession. If that is the case, the points will prove to be valuable and are likely to come into play.




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