NCAAF Vegas Game Preview & Pick: Western Michigan vs Toledo

The MAC will be providing some midweek entertainment for college football fans as the Western Michigan Broncos are set to host the Toledo Rockets. Game time is at 7:00 EST on Thursday, October 25, at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Fans will be able to watch the game on ESPN2.

Western Michigan has opened the week as 6-point favorites at home. Click here to see a full list of college football betting odds for this week’s games.

Western Michigan vs Toledo Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

The Broncos are currently on the fast track to the MAC title game. After losing their first two games of the season to Syracuse and Michigan, WMU has won six games in a row, including a 35-10 blowout of rival Central Michigan over the weekend.

At 6-2 on the season, Western Michigan is already bowl eligible in Tim Lester’s second season at the helm. More importantly, the Broncos are 4-0 in conference play and tied atop the MAC West division with Northern Illinois. Those two teams will meet the final week of the season when a spot in the MAC Championship Game will likely be on the line. In the meantime, the Broncos don’t want to lose the momentum they’ve built over the last six weeks

Toledo, meanwhile, is scrambling to get back on track after back-to-back losses that have dropped them to 3-4 on the season. The Rockets blew a 10-point halftime lead last week against Buffalo, one week after a comeback effort against Eastern Michigan came one two-point conversion short.

At this point, a third straight loss would make it impossible for Toledo to defend their MAC championship from a season ago. They are just 1-2 in conference play, so they’ll need to win out and get a lot of help to win the MAC West division. Of course, at 3-4, the Rockets need at least three wins in their last five games just to reach a bowl game, a task that will become all the more difficult if they can’t pull off the upset of Western Michigan.

On the bright side, the Rockets had their way with Western Michigan in a 37-10 win last season. However, the Broncos had three straight wins in this series prior to that, so they’ve gotten the better of Toledo in recent years.

College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: Western Michigan -6

To be honest, this pick makes me a little nervous because Western Michigan has rarely blown teams away, even on their way to being 4-0 in MAC play. However, Toledo is a bit of a mess right now and the Broncos are surely the better team. With a short week, I’ll lean toward WMU to be the better-prepared team and find a way to win by at least a touchdown in order to cover. 

Toledo’s biggest problem right now is uncertainty at the quarterback position. Starter Mitchell Guadagni was pulled after the 1st quarter of last week’s loss to Buffalo. Eli Peters replaced him but didn’t do much better. In the end, the Rockets had less than 300 yards passing and only eight first downs. They also had their lowest point total of the season. Even against a quality Buffalo team, it was shocking to see Toledo’s offense that inept.

This week, there’s a little uncertainty between whether it’ll be Guadagni or Peters getting the start. Obviously, Western Michigan will have to prepare for both quarterbacks, which could work in Toledo’s advantage in a short week. However, neither has been that consistent throwing the ball this season, especially against good competition. Guadagni may end up getting another chance because he’s vital to the team’s rushing attack. However, he clearly had his struggles last week.

Toledo’s other problem is that the Western Michigan defense has typically done a good job of containing the run game. Against MAC teams, the Broncos have given up large chunks of yards in the passing game, but they’ve avoided getting hurt too badly against the run. Given their recent play at quarterback, Toledo isn’t likely to be able to take advantage of a porous WMU secondary.

On the other side of the ball, Western Michigan has an excellent rushing attack as well as a competent quarterback, giving them one of the more balanced and consistent offenses in the MAC. In conference play, the Broncos are scoring 36 points per game. WMU will usually put the game in the hands of running back LeVante Bellamy, who has been close to unstoppable the past couple of weeks. If they need to, they can lean on quarterback Joe Wassink, who’s more than capable of pushing the ball down the field if he needs. 

Meanwhile, the Toledo defense is yielding over 34 points per game on the season. Part of that can be explained by a difficult non-conference schedule. But some of their defensive woes have carried over into the conference season. If they gave up 36 points against a 1-7 Bowling Green team, then a Western Michigan team with a balanced offensive attack and reliable quarterback should be tough to stop.

The one thing holding me back a little is the fact that only one of Western Michigan’s four MAC wins has come by more than a touchdown. However, I have some serious questions about Toledo, especially on a short week. I have enough concerns about the Rockets to swallow the points and lean toward Western Michigan to at least win by a touchdown to cover.

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