College Football Little Caesars Bowl Betting: Central Michigan Chippewas vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2012 Little Caesars Bowl
Wednesday, December 26, 2012, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Central Michigan Chippewas vs Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Opening Line: WKU -6
Current Line: WKU -5 1/2
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 57 1/2
Opening Money Line: WKU -220 / CMU +180
Current Money Line: WKU -210 / CMU +175

Western Kentucky is playing in their first ever Bowl game Wednesday in the Little Caesars Bowl against the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Hilltoppers are 5.5 point favorites.

The 7-5 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are making their first ever bowl appearance after moving up from FCS in 2007. The Hilltoppers finished 7-5 last season as well but were snubbed for a bowl invite. The Hilltoppers will take on the 6-6 Central Michigan Chippewas in the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit Wednesday night. The two schools have never played each other before.

Central Michigan is making their 7th bowl appearance. The Chippewas are 2-4 all-time in bowls, including a 44-41 win over Troy in the 2009 GMAC Bowl. That was the last bowl appearance before this game.

Western Kentucky finished 4-4 in the Sun Belt Conference under coach Willie Taggart. Taggart left to take the head coaching position at South Florida. Lance Guidry will be the interim coach for the bowl game. WKU hired former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino for next season.

WKU has losses at Alabama 35-0, and Louisiana-Lafayette 31-27, along with home losses to Louisiana-Monroe 43-42 in overtime, Middle Tennessee 34-29, and Florida Atlantic 37-28. The Hilltoppers have home wins over Austin Peay 49-10, Southern Miss 42-17, and North Texas 25-24 to close out the  regular season. The North Texas win snapped a 3 game losing streak for WKU. The Hilltoppers have road wins at Kentucky 32-31 in overtime, Arkansas St 26-13, Troy 31-26, and Florida International 14-6. Western Kentucky is 8-4 ATS and the total is 6-4-1 this season.

Central Michigan finished 4-4 in the MAC under coach Dan Enos. The Chippewas had to win their last 3 games in order to become bowl eligible. CMU has home wins over SE Missouri St 38-27, Akron 35-14, and Miami-(Ohio) 30-16, along with road wins at Iowa 32-31, Eastern Michigan 34-31, and Massachusetts 42-21. The Chippewas have road losses at Northern Illinois 55-24 and Toledo 50-35, along with home losses to Michigan St 41-7, Navy 31-13, Ball St 41-30, and Western Michigan 42-31. All of CMU’s losses were to teams in bowls except Western Michigan. The Chippewas are 5-7 ATS and the total is 7-3-1 this season.

Western Kentucky is averaging 391.8 yards per game including 205.7 passing yards and 186.2 rushing yards. The Hilltoppers are outscoring teams 29-26 this season. Western Kentucky is -1 in turnovers with 24 turnovers. The Hilltoppers are averaging 59 penalty yards a game and has allowed 24 sacks this season. WKU is 80/169 on third and fourth down conversions and 39/48 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. On defense, Western Kentucky is allowing 344.4 yards per game, including 206.2 passing and 138.2 rushing yards. The Hilltoppers are 33rd or better in all three categories. WKU has forced 23 turnovers and 31 sacks. Hilltopper opponents are 75/184 on third and fourth down conversions and 34/41 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. WKU has 3 defensive / special teams touchdowns this year.

Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes has completed 186/288 passes (64.6%) for 2,289 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 64 carries, 57 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Antonio Andrews has 277 carries, 1,609 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 34 catches, 411 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also returns kicks and punts for Western Kentucky and has almost 3,000 all-purpose yards with a 70 yard punt return for a touchdown. Leon Allen has 56 carries, 317 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fullback Kadeem Jones has 15 carries for 78 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches, 158 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jack Doyle has 47 catches, 530 yards and 4 touchdowns. Receiver Willie McNeal has 40 catches, 506 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Boe Brand and Mitchell Henry will also get significant targets. Henry only has 13 catches, but 3 of them went for touchdowns.

Central Michigan is averaging 393.3 yards per game including 242.2 passing yards and 151.1 rushing yards. The Chippewas are being outscored 33-29 this season. CMU has 16 turnovers and has forced 18 this season. The Chips have allowed 14 sacks this season and average 36 penalty yards per game. CMU is 60/156 on third and fourth down conversions, and 40/45 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns. On defense, Central Michigan is allowing 441.2 total yards per game including 244.5 passing yards and 196.7 rushing yards a game. The Chippewas are 94th or worse in total offense, against the run and in points allowed. The Chippewas have forced 17 sacks this season. CMU opponents are 94/204 on third and fourth down conversions, and 46/53 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns. The Chippewas have 2 defensive touchdowns this season.

CMU quarterback Ryan Radcliff has completed 223/378 passes (59%) for 2,905 yards with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Running back Zurlon Tipton has 229 carries, 1,391 yards, and 19 touchdowns along with 22 catches, 258 yards and a touchdown. Saylor Lavallii has 53 carries, 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 68 yards.   Anthony Garland has 44 carries, 189 yards and a touchdown along with 3 catches for 15 yards.

Receiver Titus Davis has 43 catches, 860 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Cody Wilson has 64 catches, for 739 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Courtney Williams has 24 catches, 260 yards with 2 touchdowns. Andrew Flory has 14 catches, 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. No other Chippewa has more than 9 catches. Connor Odykirk has 5 catches, but 2 of them went for touchdowns.

Western Kentucky is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, 7-1 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 11-2 after a straight up win, 4-1 after allowing 170 passing yards or less, 21-7 overall, and 1-4 on fieldturf.

Central Michigan is 5-1 ATS after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 4-1-1 in Wednesday games, 31-15-2 after a cover, 8-20 on fieldturf, 2-6 after a straight up win, 8-24 overall, 1-4 after allowing less than 100 yards rushing, and rushing for more than 200 yards, 1-6 in non-conference games, and 1-10 against teams with winning records.

This game features two of the best running backs in the country with WKU’s Andrews and CMU’s Tipton. The difference is the Hilltoppers have a decent defense, and Central Michigan has one of the worst run defenses in the country. Andrews has rushed for over 200 yards in his last two games, and could do so again against Central Michigan. I like Western Kentucky to win and cover in what could be a high scoring affair.

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