Central Michigan (6-6) vs Tulsa (9-3)
When: Monday, December 19th 2016
Where: Marlins Park, Miami, FL
Time: 2:30 ET | TV: ESPN
The Central Michigan Chippewas will limp into the Miami Beach Bowl against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane having lost four of their final five games and wouldn’t be going bowling at all if it weren’t for a win that shouldn’t have counted. The Chippewas made national news with their memorable no-time-on-the-clock, hook-and-ladder Hail Mary touchdown to upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater on September 10th. After the game, it was determined the MAC officiating crew – which later was suspended – had made a mistake by giving Central Michigan an extra untimed down with no time remaining after Oklahoma State was called for intentional grounding on fourth down. Without that win, the Chippewas would be sitting at home. The Chippewas are led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who has completed 254-of-416 passes for 3,299 yards and 23 touchdowns. Wide receiver Corey Willis tops the team with 1,028 yards receiving and nine touchdowns while Devon Spalding is the team’s top rusher with 737 yards and six scores on 131 carries despite missing two games. Cornerback Amari Coleman, who led the MAC in passes defended (19) and tied for first in the conference with four interceptions, and inside linebacker Malik Fountain (84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss) both were First Team All-MAC selections. Central Michigan’s defense was ranked 43rd in the nation, allowing 376.2 yards a game.
Tulsa finished second to Navy in the American Athletic Conference West Division with their three losses coming against the Midshipmen (42-40), Houston (38-31) and Ohio State (48-3). Coached by former Houston and Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, Tulsa ranks sixth nationally in total offense (522.8 yards), eighth in rushing offense (261.8) and 11th in scoring (41.4 points). The Golden Hurricane feature two 1,000-yard rushers in senior James Flanders (1,529) and D’Angelo Brewer (1,330), who finished 1-2 in the AAC. They also have a 3,000-yard passer in senior Dane Evans (3,044) and a 1,000-yard receiver in senior Keevan Lucas (1,108). If senior wide receiver Josh Atkinson (927) reaches the 1,000-yard mark in the bowl game, Tulsa would become the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Senior linebacker Trent Martin leads the defense in tackles (94) and interceptions (two) while defensive lineman Jesse Brubaker tops the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 – including 4.5 sacks – to go along with 54 tackles. Tulsa does give up a lot of yards, ranking 91st against the pass (248.3) and 72nd against the run (248.3).
I don’t see this game being close. I see Tulsa running all over the Central Michigan defense and coming away with an easy victory.
Pick: Tulsa -12.5