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Wed, 02 Feb 2011 12:49 PM EST



Ladd-Peebles Stadium – Mobile, AL
Kickoff: Thursday, Jan. 6, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Middle Tennessee State -2, Total: 49

Both little-known schools enter the Bowl (formerly the GMAC Bowl) with strong winning streaks. Middle Tennessee State won its final three games to become bowl eligible while Miami-Ohio (1-11 in 2009) shocked the nation by running off five wins in a row, capped off by a MAC Championship victory over 19-point-favorite Northern Illinois. Vegas odds.

MTSU is led by senior QB Dwight Dasher who averages 230 yards of total offense (173.5 passing). He also has 14 INT in his eight games and is huge reason why the Blue Raiders rank last among all FBS schools in turnover margin per game (-1.33). Dasher has only thrown six touchdown passes this year, but three have come in the past two games. The Blue Raiders have done a nice job rushing the football, ranking 30th in the nation (179 YPG). Senior Phillip Tanner’s 841 rushing yards rank fourth in the Sun Belt and he has scored 11 times. On the defensive side of the ball, MTSU defends the pass very well (191 pass YPG, 22nd in nation) and averages 2.8 sacks per game, ranking 14th in the country. Betting lines.

Miami-Ohio will start sophomore Austin Boucher at QB for the fourth straight game due to Zac Dysert’s bizarre lacerated-spleen injury. Boucher played very well in the MAC Championship, with 333 passing yards and a touchdown. The RedHawks have the seventh-worst rushing offense in the nation (97 YPG), but senior RB Thomas Merriweather has 496 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his past four games. Unlike MTSU, Miami-Ohio has done a great job on the turnover front, ranking 21st in the nation with a +0.6 turnover margin per game. The RedHawks defense is 22nd in the land in yardage (336 YPG) and has only allowed 13.6 PPG during their five-game winning streak.

Middle Tennessee State is making its third bowl appearance, after upsetting Southern Miss in last year’s New Orleans Bowl 42-32. Miami-Ohio is 4-3 in its bowl history with just three appearances since 1976. The RedHawks’ last win came in this bowl series, a 49-28 drubbing of Louisville in 2003.

Despite the nation’s-worst turnover rate, the Blue Raiders only have two total giveaways in its past three games. Look for Dasher to take better care of the football and finish his career with a January bowl win. The FoxSheets show two highly-rated trends siding with Middle Tennessee State to get the victory on Thursday night:

Play On – All teams where the line is +3 to -3 (MIDDLE TENN ST) – after having won 3 out of their last 4 games, when playing on a Thursday. (29-7 over the last 10 seasons.) (80.6%, +21.3 units. Rating = 3*).

MIDDLE TENN ST is 10-1 ATS (+8.9 Units) off an upset win as an underdog since 1992. The average score was MIDDLE TENN ST 32.7, OPPONENT 20.0 – (Rating = 2*). Sports scores.

Although the past eight Miami-Ohio games have all gone Under the total, the FoxSheets show a five-star reason to bet the Over.

Play Over – Any team against the total (MIAMI OHIO) – off 4 or more consecutive unders, in a game involving two average defensive teams (21-28 PPG) after 7 or more games. (30-4 over the last 10 seasons.) (88.2%, +25.6 units. Rating = 5*).

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