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  • With only two conference losses between them, Ohio and Western Michigan know that much will be on the line when they meet up for some Thursday night MACtion this week.
By Zachary Cohen
October 29, 2018

Ohio at Western Michigan (PK)

Thu. 11/1, 7:00 p.m. ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Ohio-Western Michigan:

1. Both Ohio and Western Michigan have a ton to play for in this one, as the Bobcats are only a game back in the MAC’s East Division and the Broncos are just half of a game back in the West. That means that this contest should be played with a ton of intensity—but look for Western Michigan to come out with a little more confidence when these teams take the field. That’s because the Broncos have gotten the best of the Bobcats in recent years, as they are 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread when facing Ohio over the past three seasons. And in the last 10 games between the teams overall, Western Michigan is 7-3 both straight up and against the spread. The Broncos also know how to get ready in a hurry, as Western Michigan is an impressive 12-3 straight up when playing on six or fewer days of rest under head coach Tim Lester. Considering the small spread in this game, a straight-up record like that is significant.

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2. Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink has had a good year, but the junior injured his right foot against Toledo and will miss this game—and possibly the rest of the season. Fortunately for WMU, its opponent in this one has one of the worst passing defenses in the country. The Bobcats have allowed 292.4 yards per game through the air this year, which is worse than all but five teams in the country. And it doesn’t stop there, as Ohio’s 18 passing touchdowns allowed this year is worse than only 15 FBS programs. With that being the case, it’s easy to see a scenario in which new starter Kaleb Eleby has some success under center. The freshman looked solid in a blowout loss to Toledo last game, completing 23 of 28 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. There will certainly be some nerves considering this will be his first college start, but he should be fine against this secondary.

3. Over the last two weeks, Ohio is averaging over 50 points per game thanks to a dominant rushing attack. Two weeks ago, the Bobcats rushed for 392 yards and three scores in a 49-14 win over Bowling Green. Ohio followed that performance up with a 411 rushing yards and six scores in a 52-14 victory against Ball State. And while it’s definitely impressive that the Bobcats were as dominant as they were, it’s hard to imagine them finding that type of success against the Broncos. Bowling Green and Ball State are a combined 2-7 in MAC play this season, and they are clearly two of the worst teams in the conference—with the Falcons actually being one of the worst in all of college football. Those also happen to be two bottom-20 FBS rushing defenses, and Western Michigan is closer to a middle-of-the-pack unit in that regard. The Broncos might not have an elite defense, but they’ll be fired up playing in front of their home crowd in a big night game. And considering the Broncos’ offense will be able to put up points, their defense will just need to be decent here.

Pick: Western Michigan (PK)

Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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