We're into double digits now sports fans. Another winning week and Ohio State graduates will have to take off their shoes to keep track.
Week 13 of Mid-American Conference football saw Northern Illinois wrap up the MAC West, bookended by two major blowouts on Tuesday, and two even uglier games on Saturday. For the week we went 4-1 against the spread, running 2013 to 37 winners versus 28 losers. The average margin of victory last week was 34.8 points. With games that out of hand, there's only one thing to do. Put some action on some MACtion. We're shooting for 11 in a row MAC fans! Get excited! Your Week 14 picks:
Western Michigan at Northern Illinois (-33.5)
No wait. THIS is game of the year! Strike that. Two weeks ago Northern Illinois was impressive in pulling away in the fourth quarter and winning the MAC Game of the Year against Ball State. Last week Northern Illinois was impressive in pulling away in the second half and winning the MAC Game of the Year against Toledo. This week, it's all about style points baby. The Huskies still have eyes for the BCS, and there should be no better aid to those aspirations than the sinking, flaming wreckage floating aimlessly down the Kalamazoo River known as the SS P.J. Fleck. Should completely obliterating a team really play this significant of a role in determining BCS eligibility? Probably not. But it does. Be cool WMU faithful, Rod Carey means no offense, it's just the nature of the beast. NIU knows there's a voter out there who will use the rationale, "Well they didn't even cover against Western Michigan." The Huskies will take the guess work out the equation. NIU wins big, and starts prepping for the MAC Championship game in Detroit. With the recent disastrous games of Heisman hopefuls, it's also reasonable to expect Jordan Lynch to put up gaudy numbers. Like 300, 200 numbers. I'd take NIU at -43. As it is, take the Huskies, lay the points.
Toledo (-7.5) at Akron
Up until last week's second half disappointment against Northern Illinois, Toledo may have been the hottest team in the MAC. A Rocket win and UT would have supplanted the Huskies as the dominant conference force. Toledo actually held a halftime lead at the Glass Bowl before NIU did NIU things and ran away with the game. For some reason Akron, this is your fault. Toledo will blast the the Zips up and down the field on Friday. The Rockets are likely headed to a bowl game, but in the eyes of people who make such decisions, 8-4 certainly looks better than 7-5. This game is over by halftime, so the idea that Akron will be able to keep this a one score game is absurd. We've got players who have Sunday aspirations as well, and this will be the best opportunity for guys like David Fluellen to put up eye-widening stats before facing stiffer bowl competition. The season ends here for the Kangaroo show, but I'll have to say to the Zips, not too bad at all. Akron was likely the biggest surprise of the Mid-American Conference. They'll end the season with four wins, and three one score losses, two of those at Northern Illinois and at Michigan. All in all, it was enough to land coach Terry Bowden a two year contract extension. Kyle Pohl and Jawon Chisholm will be a formidable 1-2 punch for Akron next year. Look for the Zips to further improve in 2014. For now, take the Rockets, lay the points.
Miami at Ball State (-35)
As loyal readers know, we don't bet on Ball State games. Oh sure, I look at a line and think I'm for certain whether the Cardinals will or will not cover the spread, but that's exactly why we don't bet on the Cardinal and White. I, like many others, am blinded by my loyalty for my alma mater, and am smart enough to know that. Hopefully you are too. Whether or not I'm interested in action on BSU however, this is a game I'd have positively no interest in betting on. Yes, the Cardinals are going to win, and big, but 35 points? Ball State is assuredly headed to a bowl game, but blasting the worst team in Division 1 college football seems immaterial to the invitation the Cardinals receive. Ball State will give the Cardinals faithful at Scheumann Stadium the last look at Keith Wenning, the greatest quarterback in school history, before he sets off to a bowl game and beyond. Wenning is NFL material, and expect to hear that sentiment get more support in the weeks to come. I've been pretty ruthless towards Miami this season, going as far as calling the RedHawks the worst team in the nation as recently as a few sentences ago. That's not entirely fair as there may exist a team wallowing in the cellar of the Sun Belt conference I'm blissfully unaware of. So perhaps....no, Miami is the worst team in the nation. And that's a shame! I think it's good for our conference when the RedHawks are successful. They've a rich football history, and devoted alumni, despite what recent picture tweets would have you believe. Here's hoping the RedHawks are successful next year, and 2013 becomes a distant memory.
Bowling Green at Buffalo (+1.5)
NO THIS IS GAME OF THE YEAR. Really it is, at least for the MAC East. It is essentially a division title game. Winner of this Friday matchup in Buffalo takes the MAC East, and marches on to Detroit to do battle with Northern Illinois for the conference championship. Both teams have one conference loss, and as luck would have it, both lost to Toledo. Allow us to examine:
October 26th: Bowling Green drops a tough one at home 28-25 against Toledo. At the time this was thought of as a minor upset. Bowling Green was fast establishing themselves as the team to beat in the East. Toledo, by virtue of an earlier loss to Ball State, found themselves third in the West. We weren't sure how good Toledo was. Sure they had a pair of MAC wins, but they were against directional Michigan schools. Turns out the Rockets were really good. The Rockets were actually up 21-0 in this game, before blowing the lead, and then throwing for the winning score with just over a minute left.
November 12th: MACtion Overload. Buffalo marches into the Glass Bowl and has their undefeated conference season shattered by the Rockets 51-41. A tale of two halves, friends. Buffalo, thought by many to be the top defense in the MAC, was being thoroughly spanked 31-0 at the half. After three it was 38-14. Buffalo scored a staggering 27 fourth quarter points but the hole was just too deep. Joe Licata had perhaps his best game of the season, throwing for 497 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks. Alex Neutz, the best MAC receiver not named Willie Snead, caught two of those touchdowns, eight balls overall, totaling 168 yards.
Hard to say what we are going to see here. Conventional wisdom would dictate that this would be more of a grind it out, defensive struggle. But we all know conventional wisdom is not welcome in the Mid-American Conference. I'd love to see a shootout. Hard to say no to a home favorite, particularly one as talented as Buffalo. Give me the Bulls and the points.
Massachusetts at Ohio (-14)
On October 27th the Ohio Bobcats were 6-2 overall, and were certainly contenders in the MAC East. What happened guys? Ohio has dropped three in a row, each loss uglier than the one before. Last week's 44-13 loss at home to Kent State was the low point of the season, and might've dashed the Bobcats bowl hopes for 2013. Massachusetts had their bowl hopes dashed in
August July. The Minutemen are really just a touchdown away from being the worst team in the nation. Their lone win was against Miami in a 17-10 epic showdown on October 12th. So the Bobcats have been disappointing, but UMass is who...we thought....they was...(That doesn't sound right). Ohio wins big, loses big, and their games are rarely close. I just can't see the Bobcats sinking so far as to play even a close one with UMass. Take Ohio, lay the 14.
Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan (-19)
Central is going to wrap up their season with a win, finish 5-3 in the conference, 6-6 overall, and get left out of the bowl picture. And that sucks. The Chips have operated in relatively obscurity in a division dominated by Northern Illinois, Ball State, and Toledo. Don't be mistaken though, there's a lot of talent there. Who knows, perhaps with the presence of Zurlon Tipton, this season could have gone a little different. Cooper Rush and Saylor Lavallii were impressive nevertheless, and CMU will continue to move upwards in 2014. We've said it for weeks, the season can't end soon enough for Eastern Michigan. The most interesting part of the EMU football right now is the head coaching search, and no Stan Parrish, it won't be you. The Eagles have dropped 5 of their last 6 games, and in each loss they surrendered at least 50 points. Expect Central Michigan to do the same. Take the Chips, lay the points.
More from Hustle Belt:
- Western Michigan vs. No 14. Northern Illinois Preview: The Huskies Look to Win Their 26th Straight at Home
- BCS Rankings Week 14: Northern Illinois Jumps Up To No. 14
- MAC Football Power Rankings Week 14: The Dust Is Beginning To Settle
- MAC Basketball Power Rankings - Week 3
- MAC Basketball Schedule For Tuesday Nov. 26: Gametimes, TV, Streaming