And now, the bowl we’ve all been waiting for. That’s right, Frumpsters, it’s Central Michigan vs. Troy in the GMAC Bowl; and timed perfectly, the night before the BCS National Championship. The whole staff here at Frumpzilla is thumped up for this one, espiecally considering that, after Iowa came through for us in convincing fashion last night (The Gingerhead Man owes me some booze for that one, by the way), we can hit double digits in the win column if when we pick this one correctly.
Expect us (and possibly you) to be 10-6-1 after tonight. Frump it here for why…
GMAC Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Troy, 7 PM ET, ESPN. Currentl Line: Central Michigan -3, O/U 63
In what actually sets up as pretty much a home game for Troy, the MAC Champions, #25 Central Michigan, head to Mobile, Alabama to face the Trojans in a matchup featuring two of the most dyanamic QB’s in the nation. Fortunately for the Chippewas, it looks like it’s probably going to be down in the low 30’s tonight in Mobile, so maybe they won’t feel so far from home.
Coach Butch Jones did a lot to put Central Michigan on the map outside of MAC circles, and lead the program to its first ever ranking in polls this year. Jones has already left to fulfill his duties as the new head coach at Cincinnati, however, so Dan LeFevour and the Chippewas will have to showup for LeFevour’s farewell game with assistant Steve Stripling guiding the ship.
Given how prolific LeFevour has been over his career, I doubt Jones’ absence come into play here. With 41 combined TD’s this year (27 passing, 14 rushing), LeFevour brought his career total to 147, an NCAA record. Frumpsters should fully expect LeFevour to add to his tally, potentially in droves, tonight, because, though the Trojans were outright Sun Belt Conference Champions this year, they certainly didn’t do it with defense.
Troy’s defense is one of the worst in country, allowing 418 yards and 28.6 points per game, which puts them at 100th and 87th in the nation, respectively. They simply can’t stop anyone, and, though the cold weather may help tonight, I certainly don’t expect them to see consistent success in slowing down a balanced Central Michigan offense that goes for about 418 yards a contest.
Led by its own Senior QB that is no stranger to gaudy stat lines, the Trojans’ only chance in this one almost certainly has to spawn from their 3rd ranked offense. Levi Brown is averaging 322.3 passing yards a game, good for 2nd in the country, and has also posted a solid 22/9 TD to Int ratio this year. Brown and the rest of the Trojans will still need to play up tonight, though, if they want to pull this one out, because the Chippewas’ defense appears to be fairly solid. Central Michigan ranks 26th in Total Defense (326.7) and a surprising 14th in Scoring Defense (17.2), and it should be interesting to see how they matchup against Troy’s speed and athleticism on offense.
Having said that, at first I really wanted to go with the Over here. There are some pretty strong trends: CMU is 6-1 Over when the line is +3 to -3; Troy is 9-1 Over the last 3 years as an underdog, and 10-4 Over in their last 14 non-conference games. Still, in the end, after getting burned in a Liberty Bowl game that exhibited strikingly similar characteristics to this one, I think the safer play is Central Michigan ATS.
While both teams have strong ATS trends in their favor, I just can’t see Troy’s defense doing much to contain LeFevour and the rest of the Chippewas’ offense. The cold weather will probably do more to keep scoring down than either defense, and, though Troy will likely score a bit, I think the disparity in defensive strength results in Central Michigan coming out on top by a margin that exceeds this 3 point spread. Ride the Chippewas, -3, to GMAC glory tonight.