Funny story. These early weeks in the college football season can be killers. Last year, Spread Offense ran off a remarkable run of 10 consecutive winning weeks. That was preceded by futility that's considerably difficult to duplicate. September 14th, 2013 is a day that went down in infamy. I picked two, TWO, MAC games correct against the Vegas spread. With no conference matchups, that's a 2-11 mark. Of course we rebounded with a historic run, but there was a lot of red in September and October. Lines jump around a lot this early in the season, so do yourself a favor and peek in on these games as soon as the spreads are released. You may find a bargain. The record keeping starts with this week's games. Last week we got some right, we got some wrong, we were without plenty of point spreads, so we'll call it a wash. Today friends. Today marks the day that we give you enough winners to afford that autographed Dan LeFevour throwback jersey you so desperately crave. I'm picking the East, Ngandu is picking the West, and we're only giving you the ones we can pick against the spread. You're on your own for VMI vs. Bowling Green and Eastern Kentucky vs. Miami. Let's get to it! Your Week 2 MAC picks:
Akron (+14.5) at Penn State
This one started with the Zips getting 18, and quickly settled back down to 14-14.5. Akron trounced Howard last week 41-0, with quarterback Kyle Pohl throwing for 308 yards and 4 touchdowns. Penn State won on a 36-yard field goal as time expired to dispatch Central Florida, 26-24 in Dublin. Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg tossed for 454 yards and a score.
Pohl is a polarizing figure at Hustle Belt. Some think he's a top tier MAC QB, others do not. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. That and the final vestiges of jet lag are enough for me to take the Zips and the points. - KS
Central Michigan (+3.5) at Purdue
Almost immediately things will get a little rougher for the Chippewas as they take a significant step up in talent from last week’s opponent (Chattanooga), whom they barely beat. Of course Purdue hardly look the part of the big, bad Big 10 team either, beating out Western Michigan. Still, considering the Mocs actually led CMU 16-0 at one point, I’m willing to bet that they struggle with a more talented Boilermakers team. My power rankings have Purdue at -3.5, so I see slight value in the Boilermakers. - NK
Buffalo (+3.5) at Army
Opened with the Bulls getting a point, they're getting 3.5 by Wednesday. Buffalo started the season off with a win last week at home against the Duquesne Dukes. In the 38-28 win, Bulls quarterback Joe Licata tossed for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Anthone Taylor added another 115 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Buffalo built a 21-0 halftime lead, but the Dukes stormed back and actually held a 28-24 lead in the second half. Army's opening the season with Buffalo. Last year the Black Knights finished 3-9 overall.
This is a vastly improved Army team, with a lot of veteran leadership returning on both sides of the ball. I don't like at all what I saw from Buffalo last week. They've the talent to put away a team like Duquesne early. They let the Dukes back into a game that should've been over by the half. Army won't let the same opportunity slip away. Saturday, take the Black Knights, lay the points. - KS
Missouri at Toledo (+3.5)
Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel returns to the Glass City to face off against the team he once coached. Both teams are coming off of wins, though the Tigers hardly looked dominant against FCS school South Dakota State. They’ve lost a lot from last year’s team that won the SEC East division. On the other hand, Toledo took care of business last week against FCS school New Hampshire, and they are expected to contend for the MAC title. I see the line being closer to 3-3.5 points. The line opened at Mizzou -6.5, which would have made the Rockets a nice play. As it stands now, I see too much value here to not back an SEC team. Take Mizzou. - NK
South Alabama at Kent State (+3)
Kent State is presently absolutely, positively dead last in the MAC. The Golden Flashes started the season with a divisional foe, and last Saturday's only conference game, falling to the Ohio Bobcats, 17-14. The expectations for KSU are not high this year, and it took a field goal as time expired to secure a Bobcat win. So the Golden Flashes can look at that as a minor victory of sorts in a season where wins will be few and far between. Case in point, KSU is a home dog against South Alabama. The Jaguars finished last season 6-6 overall out of the Sun Belt. Saturday's game will be the first for their 2014 season.
Kent State can go two different directions after last week's loss. Either that can view it as a sign that they can compete in a now wide open MAC East, or if prognosticators are correct, their destiny is at the bottom of the division. I think Kent State has a lot of talent, but I'm going to go with closer to the latter than former. Saturday, take the Jags, lay the 3. - KS
Colorado at Massachusetts (+17)
Somebody's getting their first win. I'm willing to bet it's not UMass. Last week the Minutemen fell at Boston College 30-7 to open the 2014 season. Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel completed 9 of 22 passes for 147 yards and the only UMass touchdown. Massachusetts made it interesting. This was just a 6-0 Eagle lead at the half. Colorado fell at home 31-17 against instate rival Colorado State. The Buffalos are not very good, and they were just 4-8 overall last year. Life in the PAC-12 has been and will continued to be rough for Colorado. UMass is coming along at the right time.
Last season Colorado was blown out against superior competition. Additionally, they ran up the score against inferior competition. My guess is that's what happens before the Buffs assume their position at the bottom of the PAC-12. Take Colorado, lay the points. - KS
Ohio (+13) at Kentucky
As we mentioned before, Ohio started off the season with a win, victorious at Kent State, 17-14. It took a last second field goal, but all conference wins are important, particularly as the MAC East looks wide open with the recent injury to Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson. Quarterback Derrius Vick looked good for the Bobcats, completing 18 of 24 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He'll need to be on his A game on Saturday against SEC competition, even if it is Kentucky. The Wildcats also started off their season on the right foot, destroying UT Martin, 59-14 in Lexington. Patrick Towles threw for 377 yards and touchdown against the Skyhawks.
I like Vick, and I think with Johnson out for Bowling Green and Buffalo failing to impress early, the Bobcats are a darkhorse to win the MAC East. This line has moved around a little bit, so collectively bettors are unsure of what to expect on Saturday. I wouldn't take Ohio to win, but I like them to keep it close. Take the Bobcats and the points.
Ball State (+17) at Iowa
Neither team looked stellar last week. You could argue that Iowa had the tougher job, but they should have dispatched Northern Iowa must sooner than they did. You would also expect the Cardinals, coming off of a 10-3 season last year, to look better against Colgate last week, but they're still figuring out how to get along without several key pieces from last year’s team, including quarterback Keith Wenning. Ultimately I see this line falling right at were the oddsmakers have set it so lay the 17 at home. - NK
Northern Illinois (+7) at Northwestern
The Wildcats are coming off of a straight up (SU) loss by 7 to Cal, a 1-11 team last year. For their part, the Huskies took care of the Presbyterian Blue Hose rather handily, 55-3. This shapes up to be a great bounce-back spot for the Wildcats, who are now in must-win mode, losing 8 of their last 9 games, dating back to last year’s season. However, the line has moved from -7 to -5, so I see value in backing the MAC squad here, so take the Huskies. - NK
Eastern Michigan (+37.5) at Florida
This is a tough one to handicap. I have zero doubt that the Gators will win by at least 3 touchdowns. The Eagles’ performance last week against FCS school Morgan State suggests as much, as the Eagles squeaked by 31-28. The Gators have loads of talent, and they bring back quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed the last nine games of last season to injury. I’ve got the Gators down as a -31 point favorite so I see some value in the number. But I can’t in good conscience back the Eagles, even if I see improvement on the horizon under head coach Chris Creighton. - NK