2-1 last week! Why weren't we 3-0? Because your favorite degenerate MAC bettor took PJ Fleck's Western Michigan Broncos as road favorites. That should drive you to significantly reconsider whether I'm to be trusted. Reviewing last week's article, I had to reread it several times to verify that, yup, right there, Western Michigan (-2.5). Nevertheless we had already secured an eighth consecutive winning week by the time weeknight MACtion concluded. That runs 2013 to 30-25. More MACtion this week and some huge matchups including the game of the year, Ball State at Northern Illinois. We've already seen some movement on that line. So remember fans, when the Chips are down, travel to Western Michigan as a road favorite. You heard me CMU. Your Week 12 picks:
Ohio at Bowling Green (-9)
The Bobcats are 3-2 in the conference but fall flat against stiff MAC competition. Those 3? Akron, Eastern Michigan, and Miami. The 2 are Central Michigan, who upset Ohio 26-23 in Athens on October 12th, and Buffalo, who blasted the Bobcats 30-3 in a Tuesday MACtion matchup last week. In that game Buffalo's Branden Oliver gashed the Ohio defense for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The game essentially eliminated Ohio from the MAC East race. Bowling Green finds themselves in a considerably different situation. The MAC's top defense is on a collision course with Buffalo in what will amount to a conference semifinal game on November 29th. Travis Greene rushes for 113 yards per game, good for 4th in the league, and Matt Johnson throws for better than 231 yards per contest. With Eastern Michigan on the schedule before the showdown with Buffalo, this is biggest remaining test for a Falcons team shooting for a berth in the MAC championship game. Bowling Green has a lot to play for and has shown they can put up big points. Take the Falcons, lay the points.
Buffalo (+4.5) at Toledo
Buffalo is beastly. The Bulls are tearing through the conference and may very well be the best in the MAC. Branden Oliver's staggering performance a week ago supplanted Toledo's David Fluellen as the league's leading rusher. Joe Licata has shown himself to a capable and efficient quarterback, and linebacker Khalil Mack is where third down conversions go to die. Since early season losses to Ohio State and Baylor the Bulls have rattled off seven consecutive wins, each more impressive than the previous. Last week's game with Ohio was supposed to be a good one. It turned into a national coming out party for Oliver. The Bulls will find themselves in an unfamiliar position on Tuesday though, playing underdog to Toledo. Credit the Rockets. Since a heartbreaking loss to Ball State on September 28th Toledo has won four in a row, including an impressive 28-25 win at Bowling Green. Most recently the Rockets destroyed hapless Eastern Michigan, blistering the Eagles for 729 yards of total offense in a 55-16 thrashing. Kareem Hunt has proven to be a more than capable substitute for the injured Fluellen. Hunt has topped 100 yards each of the last three games, including 168 last week. Toledo is still in the MAC West hunt. If Northern Illinois can handle Ball State and the Rockets win out, UT would likely represent the West based on cross-division victories. Toledo's rushing offense versus Buffalo's league leading rushing defense should be a blast to watch. Hard to pick against a team as hot as Buffalo that's getting points. Take the Bulls and the 4.5.
Miami at Kent State (-16.5)
THIS IS THE BIG ONE. If 0-9 Miami, the nation's 123rd ranked offense, is going to win a game in 2013, it's this one. The RedHawks wrap up the season with Buffalo and Ball State. Sure losses, and ugly ones. Back to back blowout losses against Bowling Green and Ohio, a midseason head coaching change, this season has just been a disaster in Oxford. Here's the name of some players for Miami. Austin Boucher, Austin Gearing, Dawan Scott. I suppose there's some level of notoriety associated with going 0 for 2013. Either way, indicative of how hopeless the RedHawks are is the fact that they're16.5 point dogs to perhaps the MAC's biggest disappointment of the season, Kent State. Losers of five straight, the Golden Flashes hit a low point on November 2nd, committing five turnovers in a 16-7 loss at Akron. Now 2-8 KSU gets their best shot at another victory this season in the home finale. I'm a firm believer that there's something to be said for blowing out an opponent when possible for morale purposes. Kent State will likely get beat down at Ohio on November 19th. The Golden Flashes can and will run it up on the Redhawks. Take Kent State, lay the points.
Ball State at Northern Illinois (-6.5)
NO WAIT THIS IS THE BIG ONE. All eyes will be on this one friends. Wednesday night MACtion on ESPN2. A Ball State win and the MAC's Goliath is knocked off. Northern Illinois takes it, the BCS may have party crashers for the second straight year. This has all the makings to be college football's premiere matchup of 2013. In one corner is Ball State, 9-1 on the season, and orchestrators of the MAC's most prolific passing offense by a country mile. Keith Wenning and Willie Snead have put up numbers rarely seen in this league. Pete Lembo's high octane offense has received national attention and recognition. These guys have rewritten the record books at Ball State. What more can be said about Northern Illinois. The Huskies and dual threat quarterback Jordan Lynch have given the MAC a voice on a nation stage, reaching the Orange Bowl a season ago. If they can get past the Cardinals, they may get another crack at the big boys. NIU ranks 15th in the latest BCS polls. Statistically the Huskies rush for the most yards and are second stiffest against the run. Northern Illinois will run, Ball State will pass, and if you're into entertaining midweek football, you'll make Wednesday's ESPN2 MACtion matchup appointment television. A nation awaits. Should be fun.
Central Michigan (+3) at Western Michigan
Central Michigan runs into Western Michigan at the right time. The Chips are getting out of their toughest stretch of the 2013 schedule. After pulling off an upset at Ohio, Central was slapped around by Northern Illinois 38-17 before falling to Ball State last week 44-24 in a game not nearly as close as that score indicates. Wrap your brain around the following sentence. Despite a clunker of a season so far, Central Michigan can actually become bowl eligible if they win their remaining three games at Western Michigan and at home against Massachusetts and Eastern Michigan. It's a surmountable goal. Now would the Chips actually be invited to a bowl? Unlikely. But call it a success if this team tallies six victories. Western Michigan on the other hand will not be reaching bowl eligibility. The wizardry of head coach PJ Fleck was inexplicably able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday, falling to Eastern Michigan in overtime. Keep in mind as well that this was an Eastern team with Stan Parrish at the helm. The Eagles fired head coach Ron English on Friday for using "inappropriate language," or as English calls it, "play calling." There's not much to be said for a squad falling to teams like EMU, for whom the season can't end soon enough. Take the Chips and the points in this one.
Akron (-7) at Massachusetts
Akron is a road favorite. Read that again. Wonder what the odds were on that occurring. The Zips are perhaps 2013's most improved team in the MAC, winning three games. That's two more than anyone thought they would win. Shocking as it may be, I say they notch a fourth. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Kyle Pohl is not terrible. Gaudy numbers put up by the likes of Wenning and Lynch can significantly diminish the appreciation for a game facilitator. Pohl is going to finish 2013 with north of 2000 yards. He completes 55% of his passes and has 10 touchdowns versus 10 picks. On the ground Jawon Chisholm is no slouch either, 760 yards through 10 games. I'm not saying the Zips are world beaters, I'm just saying the team has talent. That's not why the Zips will win on Saturday though. They'll win because UMass is UMass. Were it not for Miami, UMass may very well be the worst team in the nation. I'll save you from looking it up, yes, the one win Minutemen got their lone win against the RedHawks. The last game was the ugliest. Northern Illinois destroyed the Minutemen 63-19 on November 2nd. The Huskies ran up 612 yards of total offense. Mike Wegzyn played for injured starting quarterback AJ Doyle. Who will play on Saturday? Who cares. Take the Zips, lay the points.