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Little Caesars Bowl Preview

   by ASA - 12/22/2009



Line Movements



The line opened with Ohio as a 3 to 3.5 point favorite and hasn’t wavered slightly much. They are currently favored by 3. The total opened at 50 and dipped slightly to 49.



The Skinny



Ohio won seven of their last eight regular season games to make it to the MAC Championship against Central Michigan. They lost by 10 points to the Chippewas to finish 9-4 on the season. Their four losses came against UConn, Tennessee, Kent State, and the previously mentioned MAC Championship loss to Central Michigan (finished 9-4 ATS on the season).



This will be the 2nd bowl appearance in the last four years but just their 3rd since 1968. They lost to Southern Miss in the 2006 GMAC Bowl 28-7. In that game, they were 3 for 15 on third downs, completed just 15 of 37 passes and had 22 carries for 47 yards. It was a classic case of bowl first-timers that were psyched to be in a bowl and satisfied with the appearance.



Marshall finished the season 6-6 and is playing in their first bowl game since 2004. Despite the bowl appearance, Marshall fired their head coach and interim head coach Rick Minter will be coaching the bowl game. A replacement is already in place as West Virginia assistant Doc Holliday is ready to take the reigns when this game concludes. How will that affect the coaches, many of which will move on to different jobs after this game? We know Minter really wanted the job so will his preparation be thorough now that he has been passed over? Hard to know for sure but it’s definitely not a positive development.



It was a season of “what could’ve been” for the Thundering Herd, losing multiple close games to quality football teams. Three of their six losses (all to bowl teams) came by a TD or less (1, 4, & 7 points). The chance was there to have a much better season.



Marshall’s Marshall



Marshall doesn’t boast great offensive rankings by any means, but they do have one dangerous weapon: RB Darius Marshall. Marshall has rushed for over 1000 yards for the 2nd consecutive year and has 11 touchdowns and a 5.1 YPC average.



Darius Marshall has the potential to have a big day against this Ohio defense. The Bobcats last four opponents have all rushed for over 100 yards and they’ve averaged 156 YPG on 4.1 YPC.



Ohio’s Offense



After starting the season 2-2, the Bobcats settled their quarterback controversy and reeled off 7 wins in 8 games. QB Theo Scott finished with 2,258 passing yards and 19 touchdowns along with 3 rushing touchdowns. Scott was banged up late in the year and was not at 100% for the MAC Championship game. He should be healthy for this one. The Bobcats don’t have the strongest running attack, however as their leading rusher finished with 591 yards and 3 TD’s.



However, it may not matter how strong Ohio’s running game is if Marshall’s defense plays like it has in the last four weeks of the regular season (allowed 32.8 PPG and 403 YPG - 1-3 SU & ATS).



The Most Critical Question of Bowl Season



The main question for nearly every Bowl game is: which team wants to be here more? You can usually find some value if you can figure this out.



Is it the Bobcats, who lost the MAC Championship game which, had they won, would’ve put them in a more prestigious bowl game?



Or is it the Thundering Herd, who lost four of their last six and is playing under an interim/lame duck head coach?



Marshall hasn’t gone ‘bowling’ since 2004 and Ohio since 2006 so both teams SHOULD be excited to be here. However, that has yet to be seen. We’ll find out on Saturday.



Trends



These two haven’t met since 2004 but Ohio is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Ohio is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games. Marshall is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 bowl games but just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 non-conference games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. MAC.



The Bobcats ‘under’ is 5-1 in their last 6 games as a favorite and 9-4 in Bobcats last 13 non-conference games. The Thundering Herd ‘under’ is 8-2 in their last 10 games overall and 4-1 in their last 5 Bowl games.



Weather



This one is being played indoors at Ford Field in Detroit.

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