Bowl action continues with post-Christmas action from Ford Field in Detroit, MI with the Little Caesars Bowl featuring the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky (7-5) of the Sun Belt Conference taking on the Chippewas of Central Michigan (6-6) out of the Mid-American Conference on Wednesday evening (7:30pm ET).Western Kentucky is 8-4 ATS this season, but the Hilltoppers have dropped 3 of their last 4 against the spread to close out the season including a 25-24 squeaker over North Texas in their regular season finale on November 24 as an 11 point favorite. Central Michigan is 5-7 ATS this season and the Chippewas have covered in each of their last 3 games and 4 of their last 5 to close out the regular season including a 42-21 win at UMass to cover an 11 point spread in their finale on November 23.
The Western Kentucky offense ranks 68th among all FBS teams in scoring offense with an average of 28.8 points per game scored and 72nd among FBS teams in total offense with 391.8 yards per game. The Hilltoppers rely heavily on running back Antonio Andrews (1,609 yards rushing, 14 TDs) in a run-oriented offense that ranks 41st in the nation with 186.2 rushing YPG. Defensively Western Kentucky has allowed 25.6 PPG to rank 51st nationally in scoring defense, despite allowing only 344.4 YPG (23rd in the nation).
Central Michigan’s offense has averaged 29.2 PPG this season to rank 65th among all FBS teams in scoring offense, and CMU has accumulated 393.3 YPG to rank 67th in the nation in total offense. The defense has been a sore spot for the Chippewas this season as they are ranked near the bottom nationally in most of the major categories including scoring defense with 33.3 PPG allowed (98th among FBS teams), total defense with 441.2 YPG allowed (94th) and run defense with 196.7 YPG allowed (97th).
Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers -5.5
@ Central Michigan Chippewas +5.5
Over 57.5 (-110)
Under 57.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan Pick:
Western Kentucky has a 5-0 record ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, 602 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS loss and 21-7 ATS in their last 28 games overall. Central Michigan is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games, 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games against winning teams and 8-24 ATS in their last 32 games overall. The over is 15-5-1 in the Chippewa’s last 21 games overall, 18-7-1 in their last 27 non-conference games and 20-7-2 in their last 29 games against teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Central Michigan’s last 5 December games and 11-4 in their last 15 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Western Kentucky will be playing this game under the direction of defensive coordinator Lance Guidry after their coach Willie Taggart left for the top job at South Florida. Guidry will be playing this game without the services of Sun Belt defensive player of the year Quanterus Smith, who had 12.5 sacks this season from the defensive end position. The Hilltoppers can still play dense though as they led the conference with 31 sacks and ranked 12th among all FBS teams with 7.42 tackles for loss per game. Their superior defense gives them a big edge in this game as Central Michigan has been unable to stop anyone this season, and they should have a lot of trouble stopping the running of Andrews, who also is a threat on special teams with 957 return yards this season. Central Michigan beat three teams at the end of the season in Eastern Michigan, Miami (Oh.) and UMass with a combined 7 wins to become bowl eligible; they will likely see their string of good fortune come to an end in this game. Take Western Kentucky to cover in this one.
PICK = Western Kentucky -5.5