Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Wednesday sports card features three games in midweek Mid-American Conference college football action. All three of these games start at 7 PM ET.

Toledo travels to Ypsilanti to play Eastern Michigan looking to rebound from their 41-38 loss at Western Michigan last Wednesday. The Rockets led for most of this game. They went into halftime with a 24-14 lead before seizing a 38-28 edge with under three minutes to go after scoring their final touchdown. Yet the Broncos responded by scoring a touchdown with under a minute left to go (and missing the extra point). Western Michigan then successfully recovered an onside kick giving their offense the chance to win the game. After getting the ball to the Toledo 9-yard line, Broncos’ quarterback Kaleb Eleby invoked Dan Marino by faking a spike that would stop the clock to instead throw the winning touchdown pass with just 17 seconds left to steal the victory away from Toledo. The Rockets controlled the time of possession for more than 38 1/2 minutes while outgaining Western Michigan by 64 yards in settling with the loss.

Senior quarterback Eli Peters completed 30 of 46 passes for 339 yards while leading Toledo to 501 yards of offense in the losing effort. He joined 13 other starters returning this year from the Rockets’ team that settled for a 6-6 record while being the only bowl-eligible team not invited to play in a bowl game. The conclusion of their season was the first time since 2013 that Toledo did not play in a bowl. Head coach Jason Candle has brought-in another top-level recruiting class in his fifth season with the program as they look to get back to the postseason. The Rockets opened this season with a 38-3 win at home against Bowling Green.

Eastern Michigan remained winless last Wednesday with their 38-31 loss at Ball State as an 8-point underdog. Junior quarterback Preston Hutchinson completed 17 of 29 passes for 250 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in the loss. He also added 104 rushing yards with three more touchdowns on the ground in leading the Eagles offense. Eastern Michigan opened this season with a 27-23 loss at Kent State.

This game will be the first one at home this year for head coach Chris Creighton’s team in his seventh year with the program. Eleven starters are back from the group that finished 6-7 after a narrow 34-30 loss to Pittsburgh in the Quick Lane Bowl, where they did not trail until the final 47 seconds of that game.

Toledo is a 6.5-point road favorite with the total set at 61 (all odds from BetOnline). The CBS Sports Network has the broadcast. 

Ball State hosts Northern Illinois after earning their first victory of the season last Wednesday with their win over Eastern Michigan. Senior Drew Plitt led the Cardinals to the victory by completing 22 of 31 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He led a Ball State offense that gained 536 total yards. The Cardinals opened their season with a 38-31 loss at Miami (OH). 

Ball State has 14 starters back from the team that finished 5-7 last year. Fifth-year head coach Mike Neu was given a two-year extension through the 2023 season at the end of last season despite his team not becoming bowl eligible.

Northern Illinois remained winless last Wednesday after getting blown out at home to Central Michigan as a 5.5-point underdog. Senior quarterback Ross Bowers completed only 16 of 32 passes for 139 yards in the loss. The Huskies managed only 244 yards offense to be outgained by 189 yards to the Chippewas.

It has been a difficult start for head coach Thomas Hammock in the second-year with the program. Northern Illinois opened the season with a 49-30 loss at home to Buffalo. After the Huskies finished 5-7 last year, Hammock brought in 57 newcomers on the roster, with 47 of these players being true freshmen. Ten starters form the nucleus of this team led by Bowers under center. 

Ball State is a 14.5-point favorite with the over/under at 61.5. ESPN News has the broadcast.

Western Michigan travels to Central Michigan in a battle of unbeaten teams. The Broncos opened their season with a 58-13 win against Akron before defeating Toledo last week. Eleven starters returned from the team that finished 7-6 last season after a 23-20 loss to Western Kentucky in the First Responders Bowl. That was the sixth straight season for this program to finish bowl eligible. Head coach Tim Lester has aspirations of his team winning the MAC West division in his fourth year with the program. 

Central Michigan won the MAC West division last year before losing to Miami (OH) in the MAC championship game by a 26-21 score. While the Chippewas then lost to San Diego State by a 48-11 score in the New Mexico Bowl, it remained a remarkable campaign for first-year head coach Jim McElwain who inherited a group that was just 1-11 the previous season while being winless in conference play.

The Chippewas followed up a 30-27 victory at home against Ohio with a 40-10 win at Northern Illinois last Wednesday as a 5.5-point favorite. Daniel Richardson completed 13 of 19 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The redshirt freshman is completing 60% of his passes for 439 yards this year with three touchdown passes and an interception. He has three completions of over 40 yards. 

Western Michigan currently holds the Cannon Trophy between these two teams after defeating the Chippewas last year by a 31-15 score in Kalamazoo. The Broncos are a 1-point road favorite with the total set at 59.5. ESPN2 has the broadcast.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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