Toledo vs Liberty Odds & Picks: Target the Total in Boca Raton Bowl
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images and Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Johnathan Bennett (11) of Liberty and Dequan Finn (7) of Toledo.
Toledo vs Liberty Odds
-110 / -110
-110 / -110
Welcome to beautiful Boca Raton, Florida, for the Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl between Liberty and MAC champions Toledo.
Liberty has had a fantastic season, but it's in a transition period after Hugh Freeze left to go back to the SEC to coach Auburn. However, the Flames have already locked up Coastal Carolina's Jamey Chadwell to be their next head coach.
Josh Aldridge, who has been on the staff since 2019, will be the interim coach for the bowl game, so there shouldn't be too much of a change to Liberty's game plan.
Toledo entered the season as the favorite to win the MAC and did just that, beating Ohio in the championship game. The Rockets have one of the most dynamic dual-threat Group of Five quarterbacks in Dequan Finn to go along with a stifling defense.
However, Jason Candle doesn't have a great record in bowl games at 1-4 against the spread.
The Rockets offense has been solid this season, averaging 5.5 yards per play and ranking 33rd in EPA/Play
Finn is having a pretty average season as a passer, putting up 7.2 yards per attempt with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, he does have Toledo ranked 33rd in EPA/Pass.
Plus, he has fantastic dual-threat ability, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and 3.67 yards after contact per carry with 24 runs of over 10 yards. He will be a big factor with Liberty's defense being vulnerable to giving up explosive rushing plays.
Toledo runs the ball on 56.2% of its offensive plays. Along with Finn, the Rockets boast three running backs with over 100 carries, but Jacquez Stuart is by far their best back. Stuart is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has 21 runs over 10 yards.
Toledo has been outstanding defensively this season — especially in conference play — as it ended the regular season eighth in the country in Success Rate Allowed and 24th in EPA per Play.
The Rockets were really good against the run, ranking seventh in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 24th in Defensive Line Yards and 35th in EPA/Rush. However, they were very susceptible to giving up big plays, ranking 114th in rushing explosiveness allowed.
The secondary has the same problem as the front seven against the run. Toledo ranks 17th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 14th in EPA/Pass Allowed, but it's 66th in explosive passing allowed.
That's bad news against Bennett, who has a PFF passing grade over 80 on throws of at least 10 yards in the air.
The Liberty offense was slightly below average this season, ranking 77th in Success Rate, 88th in EPA/Play and gaining 5.5 yards per play.
Johnathan Bennett has been the main quarterback under center, although he was not the starting quarterback in their last two losses against Connecticut and New Mexico State.
Bennett was actually quite terrible as a passer this season, averaging only 7.0 yards per attempt while putting up a 59.6 PFF passing grade with 13 big-time throws compared to 18 turnover-worthy plays.
However, the focus of the Liberty offense is on the running game, as it runs the ball on 55.8% of its offensive plays.
Liberty had an outstanding running back duo in Dae Dae Hunter and Shedro Louis. Hunter is clearly the better back considering he's averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and had 27 rushes over 10 yards.
Louis somewhat struggled this season, averaging only 4.3 yards per attempt. Unfortunately Hunter is out for this game, but a big weakness for Toledo is explosive rushing allowed.
Liberty finished the season eighth in the country in Success Rate Allowed and allowed only 4.9 yards per play.
It's has been outstanding against the run, ranking 15th in Rushing Success Rate, 10th in Defensive Line Yards and 37th in EPA/Rush. However, it's given up way too many big plays on the ground, ranking 124th in explosive rushing allowed, which is an area in which Toledo can exploit it.
Even in their last two games against UConn and New Mexico State, the Flames allowed over five yards per carry. Liberty is also 116th in terms of tackling grade, per PFF.
The Liberty secondary has been pretty vulnerable this season, especially to big plays. It ranks sixth in Passing Success Rate Allowed but 103rd in passing explosiveness allowed, which is why its PFF coverage grade ranks 76th in the country.
Toledo vs Liberty Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Toledo and Liberty match up statistically:
Liberty Offense vs Toledo Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off) vs. Pass Rush (Def)
Toledo Offense vs Liberty Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off) vs. Pass Rush (Def)
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams
|Seconds per Play
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Toledo vs Liberty Predictions & Pick
The pace of this game is going to be incredibly fast, as Liberty runs a play every 24.9 seconds (37th in FBS) and Toledo runs one every 24 seconds (25th).
In addition, both defenses are very susceptible to giving up explosive plays and rank outside the top 50 in Finishing Drives Allowed.
Those two things will lead to a higher-scoring game than expected. I have 62.1 points projected for this game, so I like the value on the over.
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