Motor City Bowl Preview

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2006 Motor City Bowl Preview ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (7-5) +8, o/u 52 vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (9-4), 7:30 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, ESPN
by Ultimatecapper.com Staff

First place in the MAC takes on second place in the Sun Belt when the Central Michigan Chippewas meet the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders in the Motor City Bowl Tuesday night at Ford Field in Detroit.

Neither of these teams owns much of a bowl history. Central Michigan is making its first bowl appearance since the Chippewas lost to UNLV 52-24 in the 1994 Las Vegas Bowl, while Middle Tennessee State is playing in its first bowl game since moving up to Division 1 college football eight years ago.

Central Michigan, in three seasons under head coach Brian Kelly, went from 4-7 in 2004 to 6-5 last season to 9-4 and MAC champs this season. The Chippewas began the season with loses at Boston College and at Michigan, but covered the spread both games. CM then won two games in a row, lost at Kentucky (covering again), and then won five straight before losing at Northern Illinois. The Chips then won at Buffalo and beat the Ohio Bobcats 31-10 in the MAC title game three weeks ago, also at Ford Field.

But Kelly left the program shortly after the MAC championship game to take over as head coach at Cincinnati, so CM will be under the leadership of interim head coach Jeff Quinn, the team’s offensive coordinator this season.

In its first season under new head coach Rick Stockstill, MTS finished at 6-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, tied for first place with Troy. But the Raiders lost to the Trojans 21-20 at home in the season finale, and thus lost out on the tie-breaker for the conference crown. Nonetheless, Stockstill guided MTS to its first winning season since 2001.

The Chippewas are 11-2 vs. the number this season, the best ATS record in the college football. CM also went 7-2 ATS as favorites and 3-1 vs. the number when favored by seven points or more.

The Blue Raiders are 7-4 against the spread this season, and 2-2 ATS when getting seven points or more.

CM redshirt freshman QB Dan LeFevour piloted the best offense in the MAC this season, hitting on 64% of his passes and compiling a 25/10 TD/INT ratio.

MTS senior QB Clint Marks, with more than 30 career collegiate starts under his belt, hit on 59% of his passes this season and owns an 8/7 TD/INT ratio.

The Raiders offense ranks just 105th (out of 119 Division 1 teams) at 283 total yards per game, while the Chippewas defense ranks 69th by allowing 343 TYPG.

The Central Michigan offense ranks 31st in D1 by averaging 380 total yards PG, while the MTS defense ranks 53rd by allowing 326 TYPG.

Middle Tennessee is outrushing opponents this season by a 137-118 yards-per-game margin, while CM is getting outgrounded by a 133-128 YPG average.

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These two teams did not play any common opponents this season. For what it’s worth, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals provide one link between Central Michigan and Middle Tennessee State. The Chippewas lost at Kentucky 45-36 in Week 5, and Louisville defeated the Blue Raiders 44-17 the following week. And Louisville also beat the Wildcats 59-28 in the season opener for both teams.

Middle Tennessee ranks 15th in Division 1 with a 31:48 average time-of-possession, while Central Michigan ranks dead last (again, out of 119 Division 1 teams) with an average T-O-P of 26:52.

Blue Raiders games are averaging 46 points this season, with the O/U going 7-4 in those games. Chippewas games are averaging 52 points this season, and the O/U is 7-6 in those games.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Central Michigan 64th at 69.9, Middle Tennessee State 83rd at 66.3. Sagarin also ranks the MAC as the 11th-best conference in Division 1, the Sun Belt 13th.

The Chippewas opened up as 11-point favorites for Tuesday night’s game, with a total of 51. The Chipps have since been bet down to right around eight-point chalk, while the O/U has gone up about a point.

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