The Toledo Rockets were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten last week, and now could they lose for a second straight time when they visit Central Michigan Tuesday on ESPN2?
A team that just lost for the first time this season and that was knocked out of the national rankings in the process could be vulnerable as a road favorite in Tuesday night MAC action when those Toledo Rockets (7-1, 6-1-1 ATS) pay a visit to the Central Michigan Chippewas (5-4, 8-1 ATS) at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, MI at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
The point spread at Bet365 has Central Michigan as a moderate home underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -105.
How Will Rockets React?
Not only were the Rockets undefeated at 7-0 entering last week’s home game vs. Northern Illinois, but they were also 6-0-1 ATS before having both unblemished marks squashed in a 32-27 loss to the Huskies. Thus, Toledo’s dreams of crashing a New Year’s Six Bowl went down the drain as the Rockets went from being undefeated to being in third place in the MAC West at 4-1, one game behind 5-0 Western Michigan and behind 4-1 NIU with that head-to-head loss.
And also part of a virtual three-way tie for second in the West Division at 4-1 is this Central Michigan team, which can jump from fourth in the division all the way up to second by being the upset college football pick here by virtue of an earlier win over Northern Illinois. In fact, the only Central Michigan conference loss was by just two points to first place Western Michigan on the road, so the Chippewas are hardly pushovers as Toledo looks to bounce back.
Chippewas are 8-1 ATS
In fact, Toledo is not the only team with just one ATS loss here as the Chippewas actually own an even better 8-1 ATS mark, with the only non-cover coming in a 23-21 road win at Ball State two weeks ago. Aside from the aforementioned close call at Western Michigan, the other three Central Michigan losses were all non-conference ATS covers vs. stiff competition, with two of those coming vs. ranked teams in Michigan State and undefeated Oklahoma State!
And lest you believe those covers vs. national powerhouses were fluky, well think again as the Chippewas have one of the best defenses in the MAC and actually rank 20th in the entire country in total defense, yielding only 317.9 yards per game. And that includes holding Michigan State to a mere 324 yards and even Oklahoma State to a reasonable 420 yards considering that the Cowboys average nearly 500 yards per game.
The offense is led by quarterback Coopers Rush, who has the Chips ranked 21st in the land in passing offense while passing for 2626 yards and completing 69.0 percent of his passes with 20 touchdown passes vs. eight interceptions.
Well Balanced Statistically
Now, Toledo is well-balanced statistically ranking 30th in the country in points scored with 35.8 per game and 17th in points against allowing 18.2 points per contest, but outside of a season opening 16-12 upset of Arkansas in Fayetteville that put Toledo on the national map, the Rockets did not face as formidable a non-conference schedule as Central Michigan faced and it even had an easy MAC schedule prior to last week.
So in that sense, Toledo failed its first real test since catching Arkansas by surprise in Week 1 and the passing defense in particular let the Rockets down by allowing NIU quarterbacks Drew Hare and Ryan Graham to combine for 277 passing yards on 25 pass attempts for a whopping 11.1 yards per attempt! You can bet that the Central Michigan coaching staff took notice and that Rush of CMU is chomping at the bit for his chance against the Rockets’ secondary.
That shaky defensive backfield has Toledo 85th in the country in pass defense surrendering 246.5 yards per game.
Trending the Home Underdogs
Finally, the home teams are 6-2 ATS in the last eight head-to-head meetings. Also, the underdogs from Central Michigan are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games after rushing for less than 100 yards in their previous game, while Toledo is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games following an ATS loss.
Toledo now puts that penchant for piecing together back-to-back ATS losses to the test for the first time this season, and with Central Michigan being 8-1 ATS in its own right, look for the Chippewas to at the very least cover the point spread as home underdogs with an outright upset a real possibility on ESPN2 on Tuesday.
College Football Pick: Central Michigan +4 (-105)