Here we go with another week of MACtion! Last week’s slate of games wasn’t particularly exciting, with Bowling Green disposing of Akron in a rain storm, and Toledo generally having its way with Kent State (even if they didn’t cover). I’ll be handling the weekday games in Keith’s stead; hopefully I can make you all some money.
Akron at Buffalo (+3.5)
Despite the anemic performance by the Zips last week, early action on the game appears to be favoring them, as the line opened at -2.5, then got bet up to -4.5 at some books. Never mind the fact that the Zips have lost three straight (all games in which they were favored) and failed to cover its last five. For their part, the Bulls, are fresh off a 37-14 shellacking by the Ohio Bobcats, in which they were outgained by 255 yards. Either way, this is a tough one to call. Both of these teams are awful against the number with only five covers between the two teams. They haven’t played each other since 2011, but in the series, the home team has covered the last three, and outright won 4 out of the last five. This favors the Bulls. But – and I have said this once already this season – this is still an Akron team that beat Pittsburgh on the road. The offense is brutal, but the defense still ranks a respectable 40th nationally in opponent yards per play, which tells me they’ll have the best unit of either team on the field. So lay the points with the on the road with the Zips.
Toledo at Northern Illinois (-4)
Without question, this is the most important game on the MAC conference schedule this season. Toledo remains the only unbeaten team in conference play, with only Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan remaining on the schedule. Thus, a win tonight all but ensures the Rockets a trip to the MAC championship game. Of course, for those of you that are students of history, a win in DeKalb will be easier said than done. Indeed, Huskies coach Rod Carey is 19-4 SU overall, and 8-1 SU at home since taking over at the end of the 2012 season. While the record against the number (12-11/3-6 at home ATS overall) is a little shaky, it’s hard to go against them, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding Rockets QB Logan Woodside and whether he’ll play. Lay the points here as the home favorite and take the Huskies.
Ball State at Massachusetts (-3.5)
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Massachusetts would be favored in this game, I would have smacked the taste out of your mouth. Sure, Ball State suffered some notable losses in the offseason, but it seemed like Coach Lembo would figure out some way to put together a respectable season. On the flip side, the Minutemen were an abominable 1-11 last year. Obviously the record this year isn’t significantly better, but they’ve managed to put together one of the best records in the country against the spread going 7-2, which probably explains the line. They play tough pretty much every week, and the offense has exceeded expectations this year behind QB Blake Frohnapfel who leads the conference in passing yards. Given the advantage offensively, I’m recommending a play on the home team Minutemen.
Kent State at Bowling Green (-13)
The Falcons appear to have righted the ship, after the walloping they got from Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers beat em' up pretty good, winning 59-31, and outgaining the Falcons by 242 yards. Of course two weeks later they took down Indiana (before they lost Nate Sudfeld). There have been a few blips in the road since, but the Falcons have the inside track on the MAC east division title. You should expect maximum effort here from the home team here playing in prime time. But the Golden Flashes seem to get up for this game, having won here twice since 2010, including the last meeting between these two in Bowling Green. Fundamentally I’m partial to the "Falcon Fast" offense, but 13 points seems to be a bit much for a team that has been outgained in its last three games. For that reason, I’m taking the points on the road with Kent State.