Miami Beach Bowl betting preview: Central Michigan vs Tulsa

Central Michigan Chippewas vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-12.5, 69.5)

Central Michigan, which counted a very controversial 30-27 non-conference victory at Oklahoma State among its six wins to become bowl eligible, will face another team from the Sooner state – high-scoring Tulsa – in the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 19 at Marlins Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. The Chippewas made national news with their memorable no-time-on-the-clock, hook-and-ladder Hail Mary touchdown to upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 10.  After the game, it was determined the MAC officiating crew – which later was suspended – had made a mistake by giving Central Michigan an extra untimed down with no time remaining after Oklahoma State was called for intentional grounding on fourth down.

That improbable win over the Cowboys came in very handy for Central Michigan, which lost four of its final five games – including a 26-21 heartbreaker to Eastern Michigan in its regular-season finale on a long touchdown pass with 21 seconds left. Without the Oklahoma State victory in its hip pocket, Central Michigan would be spending mid-December in chilly Mount Pleasant, Mich. instead of sunny Miami, where coach John Bonamego was special teams coordinator for the Dolphins from 2008-10. “It’s got to be in the top five in destinations for a bowl game,” Bonamego told reporters. “There’s a tremendous amount of culture down there. It’s a great destination … a lot of good people, a lot of good friends.” 

Tulsa finished second to Navy in the American Athletic Conference West Division. The Golden Hurricane’s three losses came against the Midshipmen (42-40), Houston (38-31) and Ohio State (48-3). Coached by former Houston and Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, Tulsa ranks sixth nationally in total offense (522.8 yards), eighth in rushing offense (261.8) and 11th in scoring (41.4 points), and will be going up against a Central Michigan defense that ranked 43rd in total defense (376.2).

TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. 
 
LINE HISTORY:   Tulsa opened as 11.5-point favorites over Central Michigan. That number wasn’t high enough for the betting public and was bet up a full point to 12.5. The total hit the board at 68 and went up to 70.5, before settling at 70. View complete line history here.  Check out the complete history here. 

WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Tulsa is close to a two-touchdown favorite here and probably for good reason as these teams closed the season going in opposite directions. The Golden Hurricane finished on a 5-1 run with the only loss coming against Navy by just two points and they outgained all six of those opponents. It should be noted however that Tulsa had three wins come in overtime and all of those were against non-bowling teams. Central Michigan lost four of its last five games after a 5-2 start so it comes in with very little momentum. This is a big number however and double-digit underdogs in lesser bowls usually fare
well so the Chippewas could stay within this number even though Tulsa is the much more talented team.” – Covers Expert Matt Fargo
 
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football at Marlins Park in Miami. The forecast is calling for sunny skies, minimal winds and temperatures in the low 80’s.

INJURY REPORT:

Central Michigan – DB Amari Coleman (questionable, knee), RB Devon Spalding (questionable, shoulder)

Tulsa – CB Keanu Hill (questionable, knee)

CHEERLEADER WAR:

ABOUT THE CHIPPEWAS (6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS, 6-6 O/U): The Chippewas are led by senior quarterback Cooper Rush, who has completed 254-of-416 passes for 3,299 yards and 23 touchdowns. Wideout Corey Willis is his favorite target with 1,028 yards receiving and nine touchdowns while Devon Spalding is the team’s top rusher with 737 yards and six scores on 131 carries despite missing two games. Cornerback Amari Coleman, who led the MAC in passes defended (19) and tied for first in the conference with four interceptions, and inside linebacker Malik Fountain (84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss) both were First Team All-MAC selections. 

ABOUT THE GOLDEN HURRICANE (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS, 8-4 O/U): The Golden Hurricane feature two 1,000-yard rushers in senior James Flanders (1,529) and D’Angelo Brewer (1,330), who finished 1-2 in the AAC, a 3,000-yard passer in senior Dane Evans (3,044) and a 1,000-yard receiver in senior Keevan Lucas (1,108). If senior wide receiver Josh Atkinson (927) reaches the 1,000-yard mark in the bowl game, Tulsa would become the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Senior linebacker Trent Martin leads the defense in tackles (94) and interceptions (two) while defensive lineman Jesse Brubaker tops the team in tackles for loss with 12.5 – including 4.5 sacks – to go along with 54 tackles.

TRENDS:

* Chippewas are 1-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Golden Hurricane are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Over is 6-1 in Chippewas last 7 games on grass.
* Over is 6-1 in Golden Hurricane last 7 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 13-3 in Golden Hurricane last 16 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.

COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing Tulsa with 61 percent of wagers on the Golden Hurricane.  The over is getting 61 percent of the action.  View full consensus data here.

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