MAC Pick ’em, week 4
This weekend two MAC teams (Kent State and Western Michigan) are off, and everyone else is going on the road. That’s right, there is not a single home football game in the Mid-American Conference this weekend! Eight MAC schools are visiting Big (11) Ten teams while one goes to each of the Big East, Big XII, and Conference USA. As you might guess from the conferences, only one MAC team is favored, and not by much, but it’s not the one you’d think.
Let’s start with the easy ones. EMU is going to get clobbered by the Ohio State Buckeyes. Betting lines are in the 42-45 point range, and it’s entirely up to the Buckeyes whether they cover; if Tressel decides to run up the score, the Eagles will probably not be able to stop him. Ball State will lose big at Iowa, as will Akron at Indiana. Buffalo will probably lose to the Connecticut Huskies, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them beat the 19-point spread. Miami University will lose at Missouri, but may surprise a lot of people by holding it close. Penn State will probably stretch the NCAA’s longest active streak of wins over a single opponent to 28 — the Owls have not beat the Nittany Lions since 1941, but they don’t play every year — but Temple will hold it close, and has a slim shot at pulling off an huge upset, which would probably earn them a top-25 ranking.
Michigan will edge out Bowling Green to get to 4-0 for the second straight year, but Bowling Green may surpass their season high of 44 points; I don’t think Michigan’s defense could even stop Colorado State right now. Minnesota will pile on to the misery in Dekalb, narrowly beating Northern Illinois and dropping the Huskies — who a lot of people, including me, picked to win the MAC West Division or even the MAC Championship — to 1-3, with the one win coming over an FCS opponent. Purdue will beat Toledo comfortably, though it won’t be a blow out.
That leaves just two games, and here I think the bookies looked at the names and not at the teams. I’m seeing Marshall listed as a 3.5-point favorite over Ohio, and Central Michigan as a 3-point favorite over Northwestern. Marshall lost by 16 points at Bowling Green last week, and I just don’t think they can get past Ohio. Northwestern, on the other hand, comes in to their game 3-0, having won at Vanderbilt (a win that looks a lot better after last weekend) and at Rice (by 17, the same amount Texas beat Rice by at home), while Central Michigan’s wins came against Hampton (FCS) and EMU. The Wildcats will be ready for the Chippewas, and while this may be their toughest test yet, I expect Northwestern to pull out the win.
There you have it, one MAC win this weekend, though three or four other games are also winnable.