Miami OH vs. Toledo: Prediction & Odds (12/2/23)

The MAC Championship is on the line this Saturday (12/2/23) when Miami takes on Toledo at Detroit’s Ford Field. Get Miami vs. Toledo odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is under 44 points.

Miami OH vs. Toledo Prediction

In the Big 12, you can talk about Oklahoma and in the ACC there’s Clemson. But the MAC Championship Game this season is a clear-cut competition between a conference’s two best teams. Toledo dropped a close opening game to Illinois, and it hasn’t lost since, completing perfect in-conference season. As for Miami, you could almost say the same, but they dropped a MAC game to Toledo.

That’s the RedHawks’ only loss in the conference, and it was a tight 21-17 contest that accurately showed the closeness of these two squads. Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert started that game, but he wasn’t able to finish, and hasn’t played since.

He wasn’t exactly lighting it up in that game, but he was having a nice season. Backup Aveon Smith has been far worse in all regards. The Miami defense, which ranks 26th in the nation by EPA per play, has kept the RedHawks competitive. But we’ll have to see if the offense can move the ball on Toledo this time around.

The odds of that aren’t looking too high. Toledo’s defense ranks 28th in the country in EPA per play as compared to 103rd for the Miami offense. When you get a bit more granular, the RedHawks’ relative strength has been throwing the ball. They grade near the national average on those snaps. But Toledo is even better, ranking 11th in EPA per play against air offense.

The Rockets’ offense is extremely balanced, ranking 15th by EPA both through the air and on the ground, and 10th overall. In fact, their net EPA is 10th in the country as well. They’re seventh in yards per play and 18th in success rate. By all measures, this is a great team, especially for the MAC. Quarterback Dequan Finn comfortably leads the MAC in passing yardage, touchdowns and efficiency, with nobody other than Gabbert anywhere close to him.

This would be a phenomenal matchup with Gabbert healthy. Instead, it’s simply a good one. Miami’s defense will keep it in this game, but perhaps more importantly for our purposes, it will keep Toledo’s offense on the ground and slow the pace.

The Rockets are the 13th run-heaviest team in the country, so they’ll be happy to do so, while Miami sans Gabbert won’t be able to pass the ball against that elite Toledo secondary. So the RedHawks will be running it too, albeit more begrudgingly. They’re the 130th-quickest offense out of the 133 FBS teams, so the pace in this one should be glacial.

It’s not a perfect number, but we’ll grab the under on a total of 44 points for a game that should be similarly methodical, close, and low-scoring to the two teams’ first matchup back in October.

Miami OH vs. Toledo Prediction: Under 44 Points

Miami OH vs. Toledo Best Odds

Toledo is favored by 7.5, giving an interesting hook for Miami bettors. They’re an even -300 on the moneyline, compared to +240 for Miami, while the total is set at an uncharacteristic, for the MAC, 44 points.

Miami OH vs. Toledo Key Matchups

With Brett Gabbert out and Toledo’s pass defense among the best in the country, Miami will need to resort to a run game that has been less than productive this year, while Toledo will be keeping it on the ground too, albeit for different reasons.

Miami Ground Offense vs. Toledo Run Defense

There’s no reason to sugarcoat it. The Miami rushing offense has been poor this season, ranking 122nd in EPA per play. Rashad Amos has been a solid lead back. He’s averaged over 5 yards per carry and even scored 10 times. But the productivity starts and ends with him. As is so often the case with a bad run offense, the fault lies with the offensive line. Not a single player has a PFF run blocking grade over 70. Tackle Will Jados’s score of 69.4 is the team’s only grade above 65. Across the line, Reid Holskey’s 64.5 is the only other figure over 60.

They’ll be running into a Toledo run defense that is considerably weaker than the team’s vaunted air prevention unit. The Rockets are just 83rd in EPA per play, a definitive edge against Miami’s own ineptitude in this area. But also a relative chink in the armor for an otherwise ironclad squad. Linebacker Dallas Grant has been fantastic and D-tackle Darius Alexander has acquitted himself well on early downs, but there are opportunities to find space on the outside.

Toledo Ground Offense vs. Miami Run Defense

Conversely, the Toledo run game has been awesome, ranking eighth in the country with over 211 rush yards per game, and 10th with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The driving force has been lead back Peny Boone, who is averaging an outrageous 7.4 yards per tote, and has racked up 15 scores on the ground. Boone has done it all without the benefit of a stud offensive line, as Toledo’s group ranks 97th in PFF’s run blocking grade.

The Miami run defense ranks 44th in the country in EPA, and allows just 3.6 yards per carry to opponents. Linebacker Matt Salopek has been phenomenal for the RedHawks, with a stop rate of almost 10%, while his partner in the middle Ty Wise and edge rusher Brian Ugwu have also chipped in really nicely in ground defense.

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From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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