Free NCAA Football Picks: Miami OH RedHawks vs Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

Miami OH RedHawks vs Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Thursday, 1/6/11, 8:00 PM EDT, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  Miami OH -3
Current Betting Line:  Miami OH +2
Opening Total:  48
Current Total:  48.5

Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher had a huge game during last year's New Orleans Bowl

Miami OH continues its Cinderella season with a battle against Middle Tennessee in the Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  The RedHawks could claim their 10th victory of the season tonight with a win, which would make them the first squad in the history of Division I football to record double-digit losses in one season (1-11) and double-digit victories in the very next season.  “What an outstanding accomplishment by these young men to overcome adversity in which they were involved from going 1-11 to being 9-4 and winning the MAC championship,” said former head coach Michael Haywood.  “I’m so happy for them.”  Haywood will not be on the sidelines tonight after taking the Pittsburgh job vacated by the firing of Dave Wannstedt.  Miami OH is 8-5 ATS on the year and currently an underdog on the college football lines page.

The RedHawks are currently led by redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Boucher, who has won all three games he has started since normal starter Zac Dysert suffered a lacerated spleen on November 10.  The status of Dysert is unknown at this time.  Miami is making its 10th bowl appearance, the second-most in Mid-American Conference history.  The RedHawks are 6-3 in bowl games.  Running back Thomas Merriweather figures to play a key part in the game plan tonight, rushing for an average of 111.4 yards and six touchdowns during the team’s six-game winning streak.  He will be facing a defense that allowed 193.7 yards per game on the ground and 23 rushing touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee State captured three straight victories to ened the season and earn a second consecutive bowl berth for the first time since joining the FBS in 1999.  “One of our goals entering the season was to play in a bowl game and I am extremely proud of our team and coaching staff for accomplishing this,” said coach Rick Stockstill.  “It has been like a playoff the past three weeks.”  The program has faced four teams currently in the MAC and carry a 10-8 record in those games.  Turnovers are expected to be an important factor in this contest due to the Blue Raiders being tied for most turnovers in the nation with 33.  Middle Tennessee State is 3-6 ATS as a favorite.

The Blue Raiders have a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position in Dwight Dasher, who is the 15th player in NCAA history to throw for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,000 in his career.  He set a bowl record for rushing yards by a signal caller with 201 in a 42-32 victory over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl last December 20.  Middle Tennessee State has scored just 38 points off turnovers compared to 119 by its opponents.  On the other side of the ball, Jamari Lattimore figures to make noise in this contest, ranking sixth nationally in sacks per game.

Bettors will be interested in the Blue Raiders being 4-1 ATS versus teams with a winning record, while the RedHawks are 2-7 ATS as an underdog of 0.5 to 3.0 points.

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