Spread Offense: Week 8 MAC Football Odds

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

We went .500 in our picks last week. Let's blame Northern Illinois.

Ok sports fans, 3-3 last week means we are 20-19 for the season against the spread.  Northern Illinois did its very, very best to give away a game at home against Akron and Ohio fell flat against Central Michigan, putting a damper on the weekend (sorry boss).  That's alright though guys, we've got an entire slate of uninteresting MAC competition that will have you running to your bookie.  Favorites in Week 8 are a combined 26-19 in 2013.  Underdogs, a dreadful 10-32 with only half of those wins belonging to the MAC.  So bet whatever makes you uncomfortable, pop some corn, prepare for some blowouts.  Your Week 8 picks:

Navy at Toledo (-7)

Probably the marquee matchup of the weekend.  Navy enters 3-2 being soundly beaten at Duke a week ago, 35-7.  Navy has one of the top rushing offenses in all of college football, averaging over 280 yards a game on the ground.  The Midshipmen have shown they can put up big points.  In three wins this year they average 40 points a game.  In two losses, just 7.  That offense will be put to the test on Saturday.  Toledo is second in the MAC against the run this season, allowing 142 yards a game.  Offensively, the Rockets also rely heavily on the run.  Running back David Fluellen has been nothing short of beastly.  Ready for gaudy statistics?  In his last game against Western Michigan, Fluellen torched the Broncos for 220 yards on 23 carries and 4 touchdowns.  Fluellen averages north of 141 yards per game.  Should be fun to see if Navy's army of tailbacks can keep up with the numbers Fluellen puts up.  Hustle Belt has confirmed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has given approval for Army, Navy, and Air Force to play out their October schedule in the midst of our government shutdown.  Because that's what the Defense Secretary should be doing.  Deciding who gets to play football.  Take the Rockets, lay the points.

Akron (-7) at Miami

Hang on I just threw up in my mouth a little.  On Saturday at 1 PM eastern time the Zips and the Redhawks are going to step onto the field at majestic Yager Stadium in splendorous Oxford, Ohio and present something to you that they call football.  Be sure to look closely sports fans, because it will be difficult to recognize.  It's not football, it's a football costume.  Halloween is upon us, quit being so cynical and get caught up in the season.  Recently dismissed Miami head coach Don Deadwell has been replaced by Mike (Blood) Bath in the interim.  The Redhawks had a great shot at notching their first win of the season a week ago at previously winless UMass, dropping a tight one to the Minutemen 17-10.  Miami's 120th ranked passing offense has two quarterbacks named Austin.  One runs, one throws, both are bad.  Akron produced another spirited effort a week ago, taking Northern Illinois to the wire in DeKalb.  The Zips have players with statistics as well.  Akron is led quarterbacked by Kyle Pohl.  Pohl isn't terrible, has more touchdowns than picks, and has shown flashes of competency this season.  The Redhawks have not.  Take the Zips, lay the points.

Ohio (-20) at Eastern Michigan

(Insert "green" joke about money or narcotics here.  I'm in California so both work.)  This is an interesting one.  I think after starting the season 1-6, and with games against Ball State, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green still on the schedule, plenty of EMU fans would like to see the Eagles blown out to hasten the departure of Ron English.  In fact, a recent visit to English's Wikipedia page revealed the following sentiment in his biography:

"The president of Eastern Michigan University, Susan Martin would be a better coach than English and should probably just take over already."

Should anyone think I'm the one who added that contribution to the page, I don't know how edit a Wikipedia article, I didn't know Susan Martin was president, and it's a minor miracle I was able to add the above quote.

Back to foosball, this is just the third largest spread of the weekend on the MAC slate, but the Bobcats can put up some big numbers.  Ohio is a lot better than the team that got tripped up at home a week ago against Central Michigan.  Last week's loss makes winning the rest of the way even more imperative for the Bobcats, with Bowling Green firing on all cylinders at 3-0 and Buffalo at a surprising 2-0 in conference play.  Nevertheless, the OU defense will need to the be the one that sacked Kyle Pohl eight times on October 5th, not the one that was shredded for 184 yards by Saylor Lavallii on October 12th.  Take Ohio, lay the 20, and pencil in Stan Parrish as interim head coach on Monday.  Eagles faithful, take it from me though, hopefully Parrish doesn't last.

Ball State at Western Michigan

Cardinals are heavily favored, 24 was the spread at last check, but as loyal readers know, we don't bet on the Ball State games.  Certainly last weekend was too close for comfort for Cardinals fans, BSU needed a pair of huge defensive stops and a fourth down conversion late to get by Kent State.  The Cardinals should come out firing at Waldo Stadium on Saturday, expect to see some big numbers.  Western Michigan might be getting worse if that's feasible.  Last week they were destroyed at home against Buffalo.  In a 33-0 rout the Bulls more than doubled Western's total yardage, forced four turnovers, and held the ball 13 minutes more than the Broncos.  Redshirt freshman Zach Terrell started under center for WMU with senior Tyler Van Tubbergen out with an arm injury.  Saturday's quarterback has not yet been named.

"If we had to play today, Zach would start again," WMU head coach P.J. Fleck said Monday. "We're going to re-evaluate Tyler. We haven't seen him (play) since last week. He did some light throwing (Sunday)."

Either way, could be will be ugly.

(Editors note: Ball state is a 19 1/2 point favorite).

Northern Illinois at Central Michigan (+17)

Northern hasn't moved from their #23 ranking in the polls, and it's mildly surprising they didn't slide after last week's dogfight with Akron.  Nevertheless, the Huskies still showed they are the class of the MAC until proven otherwise, winning their 23rd consecutive home game, the longest in the FBS.  Even more shocking, and of no relevance to this prediction, was Akron's loss.  THIRTY straight road games.  The Zips haven't won on the road since October 18th, 2008.  So long ago that we still had a government and Brett Favre had only retired once and waffled a dozen times.  Anyway it's impressive.  Zips did their best to snap it a week ago but Jordan Lynch did what Jordan Lynch does.  220 yards through the air, and 83 on the ground.  In this one though the defense finally stepped up, stopping Akron twice within the final four minutes to preserve the victory.  The Huskies 117th ranked D will face a much more formidable opponent on Saturday though.  Cooper Rush seems to be coming into his own as quarterback of the Chips.  A week ago the freshman had the best game of his career, completing 20 of 28 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Ohio.  In that game Saylor Lavallii rushed for 184 yards, a week after rushing for 151 yards against Miami.  The balanced offensive attach of CMU could give the Northern Illinois defense fits.  NIU gets the win, but Central keeps it interesting.  Take the Chips and the points.

Kent State at South Alabama

MACtion and Funbelt collide, and it's a pick 'em!  Bonus points to any fan who can tell me why it's "South Alabama" and not "Southern Alabama."  Same with North Texas.  By bonus points of course I mean a free pick, which if you look at my record, may or may not be a prize.  Kent State produced their best effort of 2013 last Saturday, taking Ball State to the wire in a game the Golden Flashes probably should've won.  Kent State looks to be improved from the team that played Bowling Green, LSU, and Penn State in consecutive weeks.  As it is the Golden Flashes get South Alabama after playing Northern Illinois and Ball State back to back.  Freshman Colin Reardon is listed as questionable against the Jaguars.  Reardon left the Ball State game with an apparent ankle injury after what was arguably the best game of his young career.  Reardon completed 19 of 24 passes for 166 yards, two scores, and added another 71 yards on the ground.  The Jags on the other hand are led by quarterback Ross Metheny.  Metheny leads a South Alabama offense that is 26th in the country through the air.  Keep an eye on this one, because the status of Archer (who we expect to play) and Reardon (who we're not sure about) will certainly have everything to do with this pick.  I know we love non-conference wins, but as it is take the Jaguars.

Buffalo (-20.5) at UMass

You've waited all day for it.  Finally it's here.  Man vs. Beast.  That badass looking bull versus homeboy with the rifle that I'm sure won't hit the bull and takes a couple hours to reload.  That's pretty much what we can expect from this game.  I hope UMass celebrated last weekend's victory to the fullest, because realistically the MAC will probably have a winless team this season, and congratulations Minutemen, it's not you.  UMass dispatched Miami 17-10 last week in a game I'm sure someone recorded statistics for somewhere but I refuse to look up.  I will tell you though that UMass is middle of the pack of the MAC as far as points allowed (6th) and that Marcus Camby went there.  That defense will need to bring their A game against a Buffalo team that all of the sudden learned how to score points.  The Bulls has the toughest non-conference schedule in the MAC, locking horns with Ohio State and Baylor.  The last three games the Bulls have scored 41, 42, and 33 points against Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan, respectively.  The Bulls have a lot of momentum, lead the conference in sacks, interceptions, and are the stingiest on third down.  Expect Branden Oliver to run wild and Khalil Mack to add to his league leading 8 tackles for a loss.  Take the Bulls, lay the points.

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