MAC pick ‘em, week 9
After several weeks of mostly mismatches, the MAC has several games that should be more competitive this week. But let’s start with the likely blowouts. One of the best MAC teams is playing the worst MAC team, and Temple is about a 34-point favorite over Akron. If you’d asked me just a few weeks ago I’d have said that Temple would win but that 34 points would be a stretch, but they’re returning to Philadelphia after downing Buffalo 42-0 at UB Stadium; I think it’s safe to say that the Owls will win and will probably cover the spread. In the sole non-conference game of the week, Ohio is home against Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns. The Ragin’ Cajuns are fresh off a 33-point home loss to Western Kentucky, which ended what was the longest active losing streak in college football at 26 games. (As of today, New Mexico and Akron are tied for the longest active losing streak, at 8 games each, but if they both go winless this fall, New Mexico will be at 13 and Akron at 12.) The Ohio Bobcats are favored by 16 points, and seeing as how they’ve won their last three games by 23, 24, and 28 points, should probably cover the spread in this one.
Toledo is a 14-point favorite over EMU, which I think is probably about right; I’d call this game about 50/50 on the spread, though EMU is a long shot to win.
Central Michigan is a 13-point home favorite over Bowling Green. This might be the worst MAC game of the week, since neither of these teams are particularly good, but I do think the Chippewas are a bit better, and they have the advantage of playing at home. Kent State is a 10-point home favorite over Ball State, and I think the Golden Flashes will win a close game and fail to cover that spread. Northern Illinois is a 5.5 point favorite at Western Michigan, and while I think the Broncos are good enough to avoid getting blown out, the Huskies will win this one convincingly, setting up a huge game for the MAC West Division on Tuesday, November 9, when the Huskies (who at that point will be 7-2, and 5-0 in the MAC) will host Toledo (who at that point will probably be 6-3, and 5-0 in the MAC) with the winner having a clear path to the MAC championship game.
Finally, my upset pick — not much of one — is that Buffalo, favored by 1.5 points, will be trounced by Miami. I don’t even know why Buffalo is any kind of favorite in this game, except that they’re playing at UB Stadium. Miami hasn’t landed any big wins this fall — their four wins are over teams that have combined for only 6 FBS wins! — but the RedHawks seem to win the games they should win, which puts them comfortably in the top half of the MAC this year. The Bulls, on the other hand, only have a single FBS win, by two points, over an equally bad Bowling Green team. In retrospect, Buffalo has faced some tough teams so far (Northern Illinois, Temple, UCF, and Baylor are all contenders for their conference championships) but they were beaten pretty badly by a not-that-good Connecticut team, and have been absolutely embarrassed the last two weekends by Northern Illinois (45-14) and Temple (42-0). Miami doesn’t have a terribly high-scoring offense (their season-high is 31 points, and their average is 19.3), but Buffalo is worse than the RedHawks on both sides of the ball; Miami will probably win this game by about 7 to 10 points.
As always, you can see all the picks at Bull Run.