Bowl Picks: Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami Analysis

Last Updated: January 6th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)

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After taking the first day off in weeks, college football betting action is back at it on Thursday night with the Bowl, which features a pair of teams that have had some interesting seasons this year. By all accounts, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders underachieved mightily in 2010, finishing at .500 in the regular season in a year in which many in Murfreesboro thought that they were running the table. The Miami Redhawks had perhaps the best transformation in the nation this year, changing from a 1-11 team to one that won the MAC and is on the verge of a double digit win season. Which team has the edge to beat the Bowl odds? Find out with these three keys to the game.

Key #1: Dwight Dasher has to put aside a disastrous season to finish out his career on a high note
Simply put, when QB Dwight Dasher doesn’t play well, the Blue Raiders are in a lot of trouble on a regular basis. We saw that at the outset of the season when he was suspended for four games, and we are likely to see that one last time here against the Bowl odds if he doesn’t perform at his highest abilities on Thursday. What we know about Dasher is that he is one heck of an athlete. He has the ability to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in the same game, and he proved it last year at the New Orleans Bowl when he threw for 162 yards and two scores and rushed for 201 yards and two scores in a thumping of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. One year after throwing for 2,789 yards and rushing for 1,154 more on the ground, his numbers were basically cut by more than half. He only threw for 1,377 yards and rushed for 453 yards, totaling 13 TDs, which was a mere 23 fewer than he had in all of 2009. The one category Dasher didn’t come down in though, was INTs. He threw 14 this season just like he did last year, and one more would set a career high. If there’s any consolation, in his last regular season game, Dasher did account for over 300 yards of offense against the Sun Belt champs, the Florida International Golden Panthers, so he is clearly capable of making some huge waves here at the Bowl. Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
MTSU Blue Raiders -2.5
Miami Redhawks +2.5
Over/Under 48.5
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Key #2: The Redhawks need to find a leader on the field
QB Zac Dysert really cut his teeth last year, throwing for 2,611 yards and 12 scores against 16 picks in the disastrous season in 2009, but he came back this year as a sophomore and was ready to carry the load for the Redhawks. He really played well, throwing for 2,406 yards and 13 TDs versus 12 INTs, but a lacerated spleen took him out of the lineup in the middle of November, and he has not, and is not expected to return to the lineup this year. With Dysert down, Head Coach Mike Haywood was really able to rally his troops, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, to make a big difference. Now, Haywood is gone as well, having left for the bluer waters that the University of Pittsburgh had to offer before it fired him just days later after being arrested for a potential domestic violence charge. Someone needs to step up to replace these two strong forces for Miami to have a shot of beating the Bowl lines.

Key #3: Austin Boucher has to play like the man that won the MAC this year
Of course, we are referencing the 26-21 upset over the Northern Illinois Huskies as whopping 18.5 point underdogs that represented one of the biggest upsets of the entire season. The Redhawks came into that one without Dysert, and backup QB Austin Boucher was simply on fire. The frosh went 29-of-46 for 333 yards and a TD in that game, and he is going to need a similar performance to keep up with Dasher and the Blue Raiders. The biggest problem the Redhawks have is that they really don’t have that many offensive weapons to rely on. Sure, WR Armand Robinson and WR Nick Harwell both had pretty good years this year, but someone has to get them the football. No one else on the team had even 30 catches or even 350 yards on the year through the air, while on the other end of the offense, Thomas Merriweather accounted for over half the yards on the ground with 821 and a third of the scores for the entire team with ten.

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Posted in College Football - Last Updated on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 @ 4:28 am (EST)
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