Nine! Last week marked our ninth consecutive week beating the Vegas spread for MAC games. Do you need to hear the all too familiar theme? Slim margins. Even more of a reason to ensure you are betting on each and every one of these games, regardless of how asinine the prediction may be. We were 3-2 a week ago, running 2013 to 33-27. To put that in perspective, ESPN Radio anchors picked exactly zero MAC games right against the spread a week ago. Worldwide leaders? Not if you can't handle MACtion. Your Week 13 picks:
Buffalo (-24) at Miami
If you're old enough you may have read this game and first thought of those classic Bills/Dolphins matchups of the early 90's. While you may see flashes of Thurman Thomas in Buffalo running back Branden Oliver, and the imposing defensive presence of Bruce Smith in Khalil Mack, the game will not be nearly as competitive as the Jim Kelly and Dan Marino led teams. Buffalo is sure to be salty after their comeback attempt fell short at Toledo last week, dropping a weeknight MACtion showdown 51-41. Prior to that game Buffalo had given up just 27 points in their previous four games combined. The loss actually did little to derail Buffalo's goal of a MAC East title this season. The Buffalo/Bowling Green matchup on November 29th is a de facto MAC East championship game. Trap game? Doubt it. In fact I'm surprised the spread is so little. Miami is last in points per game, rushing offense, passing offense, passing efficiency, oh and wins. Unless they pull off a miracle, this RedHawks squad seems destined to go 0 for 2013. After hosting Buffalo they will wrap up the season on November 29th at Ball State. Take the Bulls, lay the 24.
Kent State at Ohio (-4.5)
Potentially the two most disappointing teams in the conference this season. Certainly with their appearance in the MAC Championship game and first bowl invite since 1972 a year ago, the Golden Flashes had higher expectations. Particularly with All-American Dri Archer returning. Kent has played tough, they were competitive with Northern Illinois, and realistically probably should've left Muncie with a victory over Ball State. The wins just haven't come. This final game against Ohio will just be a matter of pride for the Golden Flashes, bowl hopes dashed long ago. Ohio found themselves smack dab in the middle of the MAC East conversation following a 41-16 win at home against Miami on October 26th. What followed were the two biggest games of the year for the Bobcats. Weeknight MACtion against co-leaders Buffalo and Bowling Green, and Ohio fell flat on its face. Buffalo blasted the Bobcats 30-3 on November 5th and Bowling Green dismantled them a week later, 49-0. Now Ohio is 3-3 in the East, 6-4 overall, and realistically needing to win their last two against Kent State and Massachusetts to be a part of the bowl conversation. Don't think coach Frank Solich doesn't know it. Ohio gets back to winning, and in a big way. Take the Bobcats, lay the points.
Northern Illinois (-2) at Toledo
Remember last week how everyone on Hustle Belt was shouting how Northern Illinois/Ball State was game of the year? They were right. But since the Huskies won, NOW THIS IS GAME OF THE YEAR. After this game Northern Illinois will meet Western Michigan and Toledo will meet Akron. So unless PJ Fleck displays some decidedly non-PJ Fleck-like behavior for Western, or the Zips became the team who nearly knocked off Michigan earlier in the season, this is a MAC West championship game. The spread alone should indicate what a battle this will be. You know the story about Northern Illinois. Looking to crash the BCS despite voters clearly not watching the games. NIU has been dominant this season, and showed just how good they are a week ago, knocking off Ball State in the Bronze Stalk game. Ball State has been Northern's top opponent so far this season and the Huskies looked impressive. Toledo is the MAC's hottest team. Since a 31-24 loss to Ball State on September 28th, the Rockets have rattled off five consecutive wins, including victories over MAC East powerhouses Buffalo and Bowling Green. This will be a total ground game with the league's top two rushing offenses clashing. We've got a MAC West title, BCS aspirations, and Jordan Lynch's Heisman hopes hanging in the balance. Of this week's slate of MAC games, this would be the last one I would bet on. As it is, I can't go against Jordan Lynch after that wizardry he pulled off against the Cardinals a week ago. Take Northern Illinois, lay the points.
Massachusetts at Central Michigan (-8.5)
UMass has lost to both Western Michigan and Akron, by a point, at home this season. A couple plays go the other way and the Minutemen are 3-3 in MAC play. The Minutemen play close games against bad teams. They do not show up against good ones. November 2nd against Northern Illinois UMass was steamrolled 63-19 in a game not nearly as close as the score would indicate. They're second to the bottom in scoring offense, tallying a measly 11.7 points per game. UMass has wrapped up their home schedule for 2013 and travels to CMU and Ohio to conclude the season. There's little reason to believe they get in the win column again this year. From the Chippewa side, and I'm not entirely sure exactly how this happened, bowl eligibility is still a very real possibility. In fact with remaining games against UMass and Eastern Michigan in Mt. Pleasant, I'd bet quite a bit they reach that milestone. I'd bet just as much they are not invited to a bowl game. Win out and the Chips are 6-6. They'll join the ranks of the 2011 Ball State Cardinals. Cooper Rush and Saylor Lavallii should be a nice tandem moving forward. For now, feel comfortable taking the Chips and laying the points.
Bowling Green (-24) at Eastern Michigan
The MAC East co-leaders travel to Ypsilanti to do battle with the Eastern Michigan Fighting Parrishioners. The last two weeks Bowling Green has outscored opponents by a combined score of 94-3. In weeknight MACtion a week ago they blasted Ohio 49-0. The Falcons have eyes for the MAC East crown and a berth in the conference championship game. They are the MAC's top ranked defense and it's by a lot. The Falcons allow just over 15 points a game 8 points better than second ranked Buffalo. The Falcons will meet the Bulls in Buffalo for what amounts to a MAC East championship game with the winner moving onto Detroit. They are not going to allow this Eastern Michigan squad to trip them up. For the Eagles the season can't end soon enough. EMU snapped an eight game losing streak with a win over Western Michigan on November 9th, a minor bright spot in an otherwise disastrous season. The home finale for Eastern will be an ugly one. Take the Falcons, lay the points.