Wednesday night MACtion odds, betting primer and pick: Ohio lays a touchdown in key game vs. Miami (OH)

Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke, October 2019
Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke (AP Photo/ Paul Vernon)
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The Ohio Bobcats are 7-point favorites over Miami (OH) in a Battle of the Bricks clash with first place in the MAC East on the line.

The long-running rivalry is as good as it gets for 2019 midweek MACtion. Preseason media members picked Ohio (4-4 straight up, 2-6 against the spread) to win the division, while Miami-Ohio (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS) was selected runner-up.

Miami-Ohio at Ohio (-7, 54.5)

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT (ESPN2)

Line movement: The Bobcats opened 9-point favorites on Sunday, the line dipping to as low as -6.5 in early trading before settling at a touchdown. Sharps appear to be behind the movement, with Miami-Ohio collecting just 31% of the ticket count, per Sports Insight.

The total has been bet up from a 52 initial offer to 54.5 despite 50-50 action either way.

Young Miami hottest team in MAC

Miami is 19-7 SU and 18-7-1 ATS in its last 26 conference games, the best records in the MAC in that span. This includes a 6-1 SU and ATS mark in the last calendar year. The Redhawks have kicked off just -2.2 average favorites in the 26 contests. They have won eight of 12 straight up as underdogs but are 0-3 SU and ATS when spotted more than 6.5 on the oddsboard.

In his sixth year in charge, Chuck Martin is coaching his greenest squad yet. The program graduated 25 seniors a year ago and features 16 players classified as sophomores or younger between the first and second teams.

Maturation coming quickly after tough first half

Miami arguably played one of the toughest non-conference schedules early in the season, squaring off on the road against three opponents currently in the Top 25 — Iowa, Cincinnati and mighty Ohio State. Toss out those three contests, and the Redhawks are 4-1 SU (3-2 ATS) and own a 6.6 average margin of victory.

The young defense is coming off its best performance of the season, limiting a high-flying Kent State offense to a single touchdown and 336 yards in a 23-16 win as a 2-point pup in Week 9. The Golden Flashes entered the matchup averaging 42.0 points and 536.0 yards in three prior MAC contests.

Special teams are special

The Miami kicking game is class. Place kicker Sam Sloman ranks third nationally with 15 made field goals, and Kyle Kramer is 15th in the nation with a 45.5 punt average. Both talents could prove difference-makers in a close game.

Also read: Notre Dame opens touchdown favorites vs. old nemesis Duke

Ohio does not beat itself

Veteran head coach Frank Solich fields another disciplined bunch in Athens. The squad ranks 23rd in the country and second in the conference in fewest penalties per game (5.25), and 40th in the nation and second in the MAC in fewest penalty yards per tilt (49.75).

Rushing game is strong

As a 2-point underdog, Ohio tallied a season-high 316 rushing yards in a 34-21 victory over Ball State last time out. Quarterback Nathan Rourke is the keystone of the rushing attack, gaining 127 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns against the Cardinals. It proved the eighth time eclipsing the century mark in rushing yards for the dual-threat option. Rourke picked up MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance.

Best Bet

Solich is 11-3 SU and 8-4-2 in the series, limiting the Redhawks to 19.9 points per game. Miami has posted 28 and 30 points in each of the last two matchups but will likely regress toward the average due to inexperience.

The Bobcats, meanwhile, have put up 36 points or more in their last nine MAC home games, averaging 46.0 overall. Miami will get left behind. Lay the points with Ohio.

Trends compiled with queries performed at SportsDatabase.

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