College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Toledo vs. Ball State: Rockets Should Cover Short Road Spread

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Toledo vs. Ball State: Rockets Should Cover Short Road Spread article feature image
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Zachary Ford.

  • Toledo -- the defending MAC champions -- face off against Ball State in Week 4.
  • The Rockets are coming off a disappointing loss to Colorado State, one week after giving Notre Dame all it could handle.
  • Anthony Dabbundo previews this matchup and provides his best bet.

Toledo vs. Ball State Odds

Toledo Odds -5 (+100)
Ball State Odds +5 (-120)
Moneyline -190/ +160
Over/Under 56.5 (-110 / -110)
Time 2 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

It may not be a Tuesday night, but MACtion is in full force on Saturday afternoon as reigning MAC champions Ball State host Toledo.

Toledo was notably seen nearly pulling off an upset at Notre Dame before losing in the game’s final minutes, but the Rockets suffered a bad home loss to Colorado State as two-touchdown favorites last Saturday.

It was a brutal sandwich spot for Toledo, playing a relatively unimportant non-conference game between games against Notre Dame and their reigning conference champion. But still, a loss is a loss, and a home loss to the Rams is suboptimal for the Rockets.

Ball State has lost a lot from its MAC-winning team and the results this season have been mixed. The Cardinals lost 44-13 in Happy Valley at Penn State and were blown out at Wyoming last week, 45-12, perhaps also looking ahead to this game with the Rockets.

While Toledo’s offense really struggled last week against Colorado State, the Rockets should bounce back here on the road and are undervalued to beat a Ball State team that looks much, much worse than its 2020 version.


Toledo vs. Ball State Betting Preview

Saturday, Sept. 25
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Toledo Rockets

Toledo Offense vs. Ball State Defense

We don’t have a ton of information on the MAC teams from last season because of a lack of out-of-conference play, but neither offense has performed well in the nonconference slate this season.

Toledo’s rushing offense especially has been really bad, even against the porous run defense of Colorado State last Saturday.

Toledo has at least shown they can produce against a decent Power Five defense in Notre Dame, despite its poor metrics. Ball State’s defense is 120th in Havoc created and 95th in allowing big plays, so the Rockets should be able to break off some explosiveness and avoid negative plays even if moving the chains isn’t that easy for them.

Ball State is the worst FBS defense the Rockets have faced this season and the Cardinals are outside the top 100 in almost every major statistical category. Toledo should be able to create much easier offense than its counterpart in this game.


Toledo Defense vs. Ball State Offense

The Rockets’ defense isn’t the reason they lost at home to Colorado State last Saturday. Toledo’s dominant defense, which played well in large stretches of the close loss to Notre Dame, is the reason I like them and am comfortable laying five points on the road.

First, they don’t allow teams to sustain drives well because of the Havoc they create. Toledo ranks 26th in Defensive Havoc created and keeps teams behind the chains with negative plays or ends drives with forced turnovers.

Second, when teams cross the 40, they rarely score seven on Toledo. The Rockets are 11th defensively in Finishing Drives. Third, the Rockets grade out well in tackling and coverage, per PFF, a sign that they’re a well-coached unit.

Toledo will be able to get after the passer after shutting down Ball State’s inept rushing attacking and without flukes, it’s hard to see the Cardinals consistently moving the ball.

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Ball State Cardinals

Ball State Defense vs. Toledo Offense

There’s not much to like about the Cardinals’ defense after they allowed 89 total points to Wyoming and Penn State. Getting blown out in Happy Valley is one thing, but surrendering 45 to Wyoming is another.

The Cardinals’ defense is really bad in coverage, based on both Passing Success Rate and PFF coverage grades. They’re among the worst in the country at both and don’t get any pressure on the quarterback.

Toledo’s passing attack will face very little resistance in this game, and the Cardinals’ defense doesn’t create any Havoc at all to concern the Rockets in this game.


Ball State Offense vs. Toledo Defense

The biggest mismatch in this game is the bad Ball State offense against Toledo’s defense.

The Cardinals managed next to nothing offensively at Penn State, scored 12 points on lowly Wyoming and now have a target on their back for every team in the MAC this season.

Ball State’s strongest offensive unit is its offensive line, which is 71st in Line Yards and 55th in pass blocking. The problem is that has not translated into any offensive success. 112th in Passing Success Rate and 104th in Rushing Success Rate makes it hard to sustain drives, while 97th in Big Plays means that it will be hard to get chunks of yards at a time.

Without consistent success or big plays it’s hard to see how the Cardinals score frequently in this game without flukes, turnovers or surprise plays.

Toledo’s defense is its strongest unit and that unit has been successful against Notre Dame and Colorado State this season even when the offense has been up and down for most of the season thus far.

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Toledo vs. Ball State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Toledo and Ball State match up statistically:

Toledo Offense vs. Ball State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 127 120
Line Yards 120 102
Pass Success 124 120
Pass Blocking** 119 110
Big Play 23 95
Havoc 113 120
Finishing Drives 93 81
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Ball State Offense vs. Toledo Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 104 50
Line Yards 71 54
Pass Success 112 75
Pass Blocking** 55 38
Big Play 97 59
Havoc 57 26
Finishing Drives 86 11
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 53 83
PFF Coverage 46 109
Middle 8 7 128
SP+ Special Teams 23 59
Plays per Minute 80 21
Rush Rate 51.3% (83) 50.% (90)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Toledo vs. Ball State Betting Pick

There are only two good units of the six total in this game, and it’s the Rockets’ defense and special teams.

In a game where both offenses really are struggling, the Rockets’ ability to create turnovers and negative plays on defense, or turn the game with their special teams, should produce the win even on the road.

It’s a revenge spot for the entire conference against Ball State, which is much worse than last season. Toledo has the advantage or is neutral with Ball State in nearly every category, and it’s why the Rockets have taken money since opening as 3-point favorites.

Anything -5.5 or better is good for Toledo to win this one and cover a short road spread.

Pick: Toledo -5.5 or better

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