Central Michigan vs. Oklahoma State Odds, Picks: College Football Betting Preview for Thursday
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Richardson (central michigan)
- Oklahoma State hosts Central Michigan in a Thursday college football duel.
- With Daniel Richardson and Lew Nichols III back, can the Chipps cover against the Cowboys?
- Collin Wilson previews the game and offers up his best bet.
Central Michigan vs. Oklahoma State Odds
|Central Michigan Odds|
-108o / -112u
|Oklahoma State Odds|
-108o / -112u
The untimed down is still a pain point for Oklahoma State and head coach Mike Gundy. Central Michigan traveled to Stillwater in 2016 and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, thanks to a play that never should have happened.
Gundy called for quarterback Mason Rudolph to throw a pass out of bounds with four seconds left to play. Because the receivers did not run routes, intentional grounding resulted in Central Michigan getting one untimed down to end the game.
What happened next was college football at its finest moment.
— Campus Insiders (@CampusInsiders) September 10, 2016
Six years later a different head coach of Central Michigan heads to Stillwater looking for similar results. Jim McElwain has made an impression in his short three years in the MAC, winning the West division twice and Coach of the Year of the conference in 2019.
The Chippewas are in a rebuilding season at most positions but do return one of the most explosive MAC combinations at quarterback and running back.
Oklahoma State also looks to rebound from a loss in the Big 12 Championship game to Baylor. While the offense returns an all-Big 12 quarterback, the defense will see the biggest changes in personnel with a new coordinator.
While none of the players or coaches involved with the 2016 upset are playing in this game, Central Michigan has the offensive weapons to make some noise in Stillwater.
McElwain returns 67% of the offense, per TARP, with the heaviest amount of experience in quarterback Daniel Richardson and running back Lew Nichols III.
As a full-time starter last season, Richardson was one of the more steady signal callers in FBS. The fourth-year quarterback posted twice as many big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays, riding up 24 passing touchdowns on the season.
The Chippewas were a top-25 explosive team on passing downs.
With over 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season, Nichols returns after posting 67 missed tackles.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 18, 2021
The primary area of concern for the Chipps’ offense is the trench, as underclassmen are expected to fill the holes at the tackle position. The offense did sputter in sustaining drives and ended the season ranked 88th in Finishing Drives.
Richardson loses his top target in Kalil Pimpleton, and Dallas Dixon returns 45 catches with a vanilla 1.9 yards per route run.
If Nichols is not successful running against the Oklahoma State defensive interior, Richardson will be left with finding explosiveness in the pass game.
The defense will be without half of the counting stats from last season in tackles, pressure and stops. Cornerback Donte Kent is the leading tackler from last season, but is crucial in pass defense after nearly leading the FBS with 14 pass breakups.
The 4-2-5 scheme from defensive coordinator Robb Akey will have new faces on the edge and at the nickelback positions, making the middle of the field the target for the Oklahoma State offense.
With fourth-year quarterback Spencer Sanders coming off of his best season yet, there is no expected change for the Cowboys’ offense. Sanders posted an increase in adjusted completion percentage, with a 20:12 touchdown to interception ratio.
Pressured dropbacks had an increase in efficiency with Sanders under center, while play-action passing recorded twice as many big-time throws as turnover-worthy plays.
Receiver Tay Martin moves on, but Sanders gets his next four top targets back this season.
One of those targets is sophomore slot receiver Brennan Presley. He became Sanders’ favorite option in the bowl game, with 10 catches for 137 yards against Notre Dame. Presley can also change the game from a special teams perspective.
BRENNAN PRESLEY TO THE CRIBBO pic.twitter.com/z8Z3DB43zD
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 28, 2021
The defense cracked headlines this offseason with the change in coordinator. Jim Knowles led the Cowboys to a top-five national rank in Havoc, coverage and stuff rate. The 4-2-5 scheme played in the backfield of every opponent and allowed just three points per opponent scoring opportunities.
New defensive coordinator Derek Mason enters from Auburn after filling the same role for one season. While the Tigers were top-15 against the rush, allowing explosive plays was the downfall of the defense.
The Cowboy defensive coaches did a great job of mixing in some pre-snap movement on the defensive front, which you see from Collin Oliver here, to really mess with the ND offensive line. pic.twitter.com/u7yUyNYbZn
— Feels Like 45 Podcast (@FeelsLike45Pod) January 5, 2022
The Cowboys return both Collin Oliver and Tyler Lacy to the edge position, but new faces fill the linebacker and corner positions. The biggest hit comes in a loss of more than 80% in passes defensed and tackles.
Outside of the edge positions, Oklahoma State will be looking to establish new names while maintaining a top-20 rank in Havoc.
Central Michigan vs. Oklahoma State Betting Pick
There are numerous questions for both teams heading into this game, specifically if each defense is going to be able to contain the opponent’s offense.
Richardson and Nichols are the best rush-pass combination in the MAC, but questions on the offensive line may limit first downs.
The point of attack against the Oklahoma State defense is the back seven. If there is no speed bump for Richardson with a handful of new targets, the Oklahoma State defense will allow explosive plays.
The Chippewas expect to be in plenty of shootouts this season, as the back seven is projected to be the worst in the MAC. With the exception of Kent at the corner position, every position off the line of scrimmage fields inexperience.
Kent’s 17% forced incompletion rate is top-20 of all individual corners, as the sophomore is expected to take half the field away from the Cowboys’ passing attack.
Sanders will look to avoid Kent and have plenty of time to throw against a Central Michigan front seven that will not be able to generate pressure. The Action Network projection makes Oklahoma State an 18-point favorite, just shy of the market number.
Any number higher than three touchdowns will get Central Michigan action, as investors will look for the hook and a backdoor cover.
The difference in this game is Nichols’ ability to catch balls in space. Along with being an elite runner, the sophomore was targeted 49 times last season, averaging 7.8 yards after the catch.
The strength of Oklahoma State is on the defensive line, but a backfield weapon like Nichols — in conjunction with a seasoned quarterback — will keep the Chippewas in this game.
Pick: Central Michigan +21.5 (Play to 21)