Toledo (9-2, 6-1) at Western Michigan (11-0, 7-0)
When: Friday, November 25th 2016
Where: Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
Time: 5:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
The two best teams in the Mid-American Conference will meet Friday afternoon as the Toledo Rockets visit the Western Michigan Broncos. The winner will go to the MAC Championship Game as the winner of the Western Division, but much more is on the line for the Broncos. They are in the driver’s seat to play in the Cotton Bowl and reap the rewards of the $6 million payday that comes with being the highest-ranked Group of Five conference team in the country. Western Michigan’s run continued with a 38-0 victory over Buffalo on Saturday, extending a school-record 13-game winning streak that began with a 35-30 victory over Toledo to end the 2015 regular season. The Broncos’ +15 turnover margin is tied with Washington and Old Dominion for tops nationally, and it all starts with quarterback Zach Terrell, who completes 71.3 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and one interception. Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis needs 19 yards to break the FBS record of 5,005 receiving yards set by Nevada’s Trevor Insley in 1999 after recording 173 on 13 catches with two touchdowns against Buffalo. Western Michigan also has the top running back in the conference in Jarvion Franklin, who has run for 1,228 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Rockets are the second-best scoring offense and defense in the MAC behind Western Michigan and have won three in a row since a loss to Ohio and both of their defeats this season have come by a combined seven points. The Rockets reached nine victories for the third straight season with a 37-19 win over Ball State on November 16th and are led by quarterback Logan Woodside, who leads the country with 40 touchdown passes while completing 70.1% of his passes for 3,653 (fourth nationally). Woodside’s top targets include wide receivers Cody Thompson (20.1 yards per team-best 56 catches, 10 touchdowns) and Jon’Vea Johnson (19.8, 38, 10), while tight end Michael Roberts has a team-best 12 touchdowns. The Rockets also boast a strong rushing attack led by Kareem Hunt’s 1,155 yards and seven scores. The winner will get the Ohio Bobcats next week in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit.
Western Michigan will win this game, but Toledo has the offense and defense to keep this one close. There’s a lot of pressure on the Broncos to win this game and to get to the Cotton Bowl. The Rockets have won five of the last six meetings and only lost by five last year.
Pick: Toledo +9