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College football odds: NIU still favorites, but not by much

Vegas weighs in on who it thinks has the best chance of winning the 2013 MAC Championship.

Vegas weighs in on who it thinks will win the MAC Championship.
Vegas weighs in on who it thinks will win the MAC Championship.
Mark A. Cunningham

With less than a month to go until the official start of the 2013 football season, predictions and projections are coming out in full swing. Over at the mother ship they've posted some initial odds for each conference championship, and things are interesting for the Mid-American Conference.

While the competition level in the MAC has been increasing lately, some things remain the same. At MAC Media Day last week the favorites for the MAC Championship didn't change from a year before, with both Northern Illinois and Ohio pegged as the favorites to play in Ford Field this December. At the very top Las Vegas seems to agree, with the Northern Illinois Huskies and quarterback Jordan Lynch still the favorites to win the MAC Championship at 13/10 odds. But after that things start to get interesting.

Falling in step right behind NIU are the Bowling Green Falcons with 7/2 odds, whom Las Vegas seems to like much more than Ohio in the East. Despite a lackluster offense in 2012, the Falcons still feature a knockout defense, the best in the MAC, that the odds makers are taking note of. Ball State also was given more favorable odds at 5/1, which seems logical considering how balanced that offense is. With Keith Wenning under center once more the Cardinals have to be taken as a serious threat to knock off NIU in the MAC West.

The Ohio Bobcats fall in as the No. 4 favorite to win the MAC with 15/2 odds, the same odds Kent State was given. This is interesting, and probably far more realistic than the MAC Media Poll. Kent State and Dri Archer face back-to-back games against NIU at home and Ball State on the road in October. Considering the Golden Flashes are replacing their head coach and quarterback from a season ago, things could get interesting for them with conference games against Bowling Green and Ohio as well.

Ohio has a relatively easy conference schedule, with home games against Central Michigan, Miami and UMass, as well as road games against Akron and Eastern Michigan. But where things get interesting is a three game stretch at Buffalo, at Bowling Green and home against Kent State in November. Las Vegas seems to think that late conference schedule will get the best of Ohio and quarterback Tyler Tettleton once again after last year's late season collapse.

The rest of the MAC sort of falls in line, with Las Vegas in agreement that Akron, Eastern Michigan and UMass are caught in a three-way race for last place in the MAC. Vegas gave all three 75/1 odds on winning the MAC Championship.

2013 MAC Championship Odds
NIU 13/10
BGSU 7/2
Ball State 5/1
Ohio 15/2
Kent State 15/2
Toledo 10/1
Buffalo 12/1
Miami 20/1
WMU 33/1
CMU 40/1
EMU 75/1
UMass 75/1
Akron 75/1