Central Michigan vs. Missouri College Football Odds & Picks: Find Value on This Week 1 Total (Saturday, Sept. 4)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Connor Bazelak.
- Jim McElwain's Central Michigan Chippewas travel to Columbia on Saturday to take on Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers.
- McElwain recently had surgery for appendicitis, and he could miss the opener.
- Check out Alex Kolodziej's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
College Football Week 1 Odds
Central Michigan vs. Missouri
A majority of the SEC gets a non-conference tune-up out of the gates, but Missouri can’t afford to sleep on its Week 1 opponent.
The Tigers welcome Central Michigan and third-year head coach Jim McElwain, who’s familiar with the conference after leading Florida to consecutive East division titles in 2015-16.
McElwain was a money-maker in Year 1 at CMU, going 9-5 against the number. How will his team fare as a double-digit ‘dog with a relatively high total?
Central Michigan only had one way to go following a disastrous 1-11 campaign in 2018, but McElwain exceeded expectations.
The Chippewas went 8-6 and clinched a berth to the title game, where they lost to Miami Ohio. Overall, McElwain and Co. cashed 64.3% of their spreads, tied for the 13th-best mark in college football.
The program split its six contests last year and could go either way in 2021. First, the offense needs to be more aggressive.
The 2019 unit was operated under then-senior quarterback Quinten Darmody, who spent time at Tennessee before landing in the MAC. McElwain dialed up passes 49% of the time and in turn, helped the Chippewas register 6.0 yards per play.
Last year was more of a feeling-out process.
Central Michigan ran the ball nearly 60% of the time with freshman Daniel Richardson leading the show. The Chippewas still posted north of 31 points per game , but they averaged 0.4 yards fewer per play and ranked a dismal 121st in standard down passing success rate.
Whoever runs the offense between Richardson and Jacob Sirmon is in pretty good shape. An offensive line that opened up 5.0 yards per carry for its running backs last year returns everyone, plus star receiver Kalil Pimpleton, one of the MAC’s best, is back to solidify the receiving corps.
The Chippewas regressed off their 2019 numbers, allowing 0.3 more yards per play and 1.4 more points per game. The secondary in particular was dreadful against the pass, surrendering 16.4 yards per completion.
Former Michigan defensive backs coach Michael Zordich takes over the same role for the Chipps in 2021. While he probably won’t produce multiple All-Americans like he did in Ann Arbor, his secondary can’t possibly be worse than it was a year ago.
Central Michigan was quietly stout on the ground, allowing the second-fewest explosive rushes in the country.
Missouri tends to get lost in the SEC shuffle, but Eli Drinkwitz could be the right guy to give the Tigers the face lift they need.
He soaked his feet last year en route to a 5-5 clip, but he showed promise over a six-game, midseason stretch which included a win over LSU and 40 or more points in half the contests.
The offense in particular was stagnant in 2019, barely touching 23 points per game. However, a sleeper under center has this unit ready to take flight.
Missouri threw the ball just 46.4% of the time in 2019, and Drinkwitz had enough of that.
The Tigers bumped that clip up to 51.9% behind former four-star quarterback Connor Bazelak, who ranked fourth in the entire country with a 67.9% completion percentage on downfield throws in an empty pocket.
Although the Tigers are a bit banged up in the receiving corps, they should be licking their chops against a defense that allowed 2.5 touchdowns through the air per game in 2020.
Missouri allowed 5.9 yards per play and 32.3 points per game last year — 0.8 and 11.2 more than the year prior.
If there’s any caveat, the SEC boasted some top-flight offensive units. However, no matter how you slice it, Missouri allowed at least 35 points in every game when taking out its contests against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina.
A unit that generated just four interceptions has to be better, especially after losing star linebacker Nick Bolton to the draft.
Central Michigan vs. Missouri Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Central Michigan and Missouri match up statistically:
Central Michigan Offense vs. Missouri Defense
Missouri Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Central Michigan vs. Missouri Betting Pick
Central Michigan lost some of its luster after a 3-3 campaign, but the offense has my attention.
The Chippewas own one of the best offensive TARP ratings in the entire country. Richardson and Sirmon are both viable options operating behind an experienced offensive line and a Missouri defense that’s No. 126 in the nation in finishing drives should cough up plenty of points to a unit that ran more than 74 plays per game a season ago.
Meanwhile, if Missouri wants to test out the deep-passing game, this is as good as it gets.
Central Michigan allowed the third-most yards per completion in the nation in 2020 and is breaking in a couple new players in the secondary. The Chippewas’ pass rush may get home from time to time, but they won’t consistently get stops against even an average SEC offense.
McElwain has cashed eight of the last nine overs as an underdog. This is an optimal spot for points, and a total that should get wrecked relatively quickly.
Bet the over, which is good up to 61 in my book.