Rakeem Cato went out at Marshall holding his head high, dismantling Northern Illinois for a score of 52-23. The Thundering Herd got behind early by conceding the first touchdown of the game, but on the ensuing possession Marshall ran the ball back for a kick return touchdown. Northern Illinois couldn’t sustain much after that kick to the groin. Marshall poured the points on, as we expected, and the Huskies weren’t able to keep pace with the high octane attack of Marshall. After a record breaking career with Marshall we’ll see if he has an opportunity at the next level. I imagine he either gets drafted late or signs on as an undrafted free agent. I don’t see how he’ll become a legitimate starter in the NFL, but he may be able to catch on as a third stringer or practice player, at least initially. Marshall now has a hole to fill at the quarterback position, something they haven’t had to tend to in the last four years. Expect to see Northern Illinois a threat in the MAC again next season, starting quarterback Drew Hare is only a sophomore and should be improved next fall.
The team that spoiled Marshall’s shot at going undefeated this season was Western Kentucky. As I mentioned in yesterdays article, the teams got into a wild affair, with the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky ultimately nabbing a close 67-66 victory over Marshall. It would be nice for Western Kentucky to follow up such a big win with a bowl win as well. Their opponent won’t be familiar to the majority of players on either teams, but this is a rematch of an earlier bowl matchup in 2012. Flash forward to now and these are two totally different teams. Most notably the Hilltoppers, whose offense has improved exponentially from that season. That was more of a defensive minded Western Kentucky team, this one likes to run up the score with their prolific offense led by Brandon Doughty. The senior enters with some gaudy numbers that I will get into below. Like Cato, Doughty is rewriting the history books at Western Kentucky with his numbers in the air. The Central Michigan Chippewa are a little bit of this and a little of that. They have a competent offense that can move the ball and an average defense. In a lot of ways I see this game with similarities to the Northern Illinois/Marshall game. Central Michigan and Western Kentucky will kickoff at 12:00PM EST time in the Bahamas.
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky Spread and Betting Odds:
Central Michigan +3.5 (-110)
@ Western Kentucky -3.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky Pick:
Brandon Doughty comes into the Bahamas Bowl after firing 8 touchdown passes against Marshall in their last game. Prior to that game he had 5 touchdown passes against Texas San Antonio. We need to go all the way back to November 1st for the last game Doughty didn’t throw at least 3 touchdowns. On the season he threw for 4344 yards with 44 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 4344 yards smashes the record he set in the year prior where he tossed 2857 yards. Doughty will be back next season as he was granted 6th year eligibility. The Western Kentucky offense failed to score more than 30 points only once this season. Besides that 10 point outing against Louisiana Tech, the lowest total they put up all season was 34 points. The offense is averaging 44 points per game this season. In their last four games they’ve put up an astounding 49.75 points a game. This is a balanced team, with a run game to along with a strong pass attack. Leon Allen is a beast on the ground, running for 1490 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Allen is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Allen ran for 237 yards against Marshall and 345 against Army a few weeks back.
If there are any susceptibilities on the Hilltoppers it would be their defense. That Marshall game isn’t the only time they got lit up for points. In fact, that was the seventh time in 2014 that they allowed an opposing team to score more than 40 points. On four occasions they gave up more than 50 points. Central doesn’t have an offense like the Hilltoppers, but they may be able to find holes in the Western Kentucky defense. The Chippewa’s don’t have a juggernaut offense, but it is doable enough to make it work against them. In their last six games they averaged 29.3 points a game which was mostly against better defenses than Western Kentucky. Are you starting to see how this relates to yesterdays game? The only difference is that Marshall has a much better defense than Western Kentucky does. This might turn into backyard football in the Bahamas. One could make the argument the offenses might be out of sync due to the fact they’re in the Bahamas, but I see it as the defenses caring less. Same bet as last night with the total a point higher. Expect more points with a lean to Western Kentucky. Enjoy your Christmas Eve and have a Merry Christmas to you and your families.
PICK: OVER 68 POINTS (-110)