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MAC Championship Game Preview: Miami-Ohio vs. Toledo

We make a pic for the MAC Championship.

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl - Liberty v Toledo Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami RedHawks take on the Toledo Rockets in the MAC Championship Game on Saturday, December 2. Toledo enters as a 7.5-point favorite, with the total set at 44 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Kickoff is scheduled for noon ET and the game will air on ESPN.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the game.

Miami-OH (10-2, 7-1 MAC) No. 74 FPI, No. 54 SP+

The RedHawks won the MAC East. Their only conference loss came against Toledo, and they also recorded a loss against Miami (FL). The RedHawks were initially led by quarterback Brett Gabbert — yes, younger brother of Blaine — who finished the regular season with 14 passing touchdowns and five interceptions. However, a season-ending leg injury in October placed Aveon Smith into the starting role. He has thrown two TDs and two INTs in his time as starter.

Miami’s defense ranks 15th in the nation in SP+ rankings. The RedHawks rank seventh in the nation in points allowed per game, letting up an average of just 16 points per game to opponents. They rank 13th in the nation in passing yards allowed to opposing QBs.

In their latest game, a 17-15 win over Ball State, Smith threw one touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Rashad Amos added a TD on the ground, and the RedHawks defense grabbed two picks.

Toledo (11-1, 8-0 MAC) No. 57 FPI, No. 39 SP+

Toledo ruled the MAC this season. Their only loss was against Illinois, and was only decided by two points. The Rockets could just as soon have gone undefeated this season. Quarterback DeQuann Finn shepherded the offense, finishing the regular season with 21 passing touchdowns, six rushing touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Running back Peny Boone added over 1,500 all-purpose yards and finished the season with 16 touchdowns.

However, it was the Toledo defense that was the true star of the show. They allowed an average of just 22 opponent points per game, ranking 30th in the nation, and kept opponents to under 200 passing yards per game and ranked 28th in the nation.

Toledo and Miami (OH) faced off earlier this season, and Toledo won 21-17. Miami was able to keep Toledo scoreless for the entire second half of the game. The Rockets are also the reigning MAC titleholders.

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Toledo -7.5
Total: 44
Moneyline: Toledo -310, Miami-OH +250

Weather

Ford Field is indoors.

Don’t forget before you bet

  • Toledo defeated Miami by four points earlier this year, but with a different starting quarterback
  • Both teams rank significantly higher defensively than they do offensively

Best bets for MAC Championship Game

Miami +7.5

The RedHawks will be looking for an opportunity to avenge their earlier loss this season as they come into this matchup, and this will be a highly defensive battle. Miami can absolutely hang alongside Toledo defensively, but the question will be whether Aveon Smith is up for the challenge on the other side of the ball. I think the answer is yes — Miami covers, and Toledo wins.