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MAC pick ’em, week 8

October 20, 2011

Last week I went 5-1, bringing me to 52-18 for the season with an asterisk on one miss (Toledo-Syracuse). The one game I missed last week was Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, and I’m still scratching my head over that one.

This week’s card features another six games of MAC-on-MAC action. Kent State (1-6; 0-3 MAC) will take the week off to figure out how to improve their FBS scoring average above 7 points per game.

Northern Illinois (4-3; 2-1 MAC) at Buffalo (2-5; 1-2 MAC): I’m still not sure what to make of Northern Illinois’ performance against Western Michigan last week. Fortunately I don’t have to figure it out to call this game. The Huskies are averaging 39.6 points per game, while the Bulls average less than half that, 18.1. Even if the Northern Illinois defense takes the week off, I don’t see Buffalo getting to 40 points — they haven’t done that since 2009 — while the only defense to hold Northern Illinois under 40 this year was Wisconsin. This should be an easy win for the Huskies.

Western Michigan (4-3; 2-1 MAC) at EMU (4-3; 2-1 MAC): My heart wants to say EMU, but my head says Western Michigan will be just more than the Eagles can handle. Full preview tomorrow.

Central Michigan (2-5; 1-2 MAC) at Ball State (4-3; 2-1 MAC): On paper, these teams look evenly matched — the Cardinals average 19.9 points scored and 32.4 points allowed per game, while the Chippewas average 22.1 points scored and 33.7 points allowed per game, for margins of loss of 12.5 and 11 points per game, respectively — but I don’t buy that. Ball State lost to Temple, at Oklahoma, and at South Florida, and beat Indiana, Buffalo, Army, and Ohio, while Central Michigan lost to a bad Kentucky team, Western Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, and EMU, and only beat South Carolina State and the above-mentioned fluky Northern Illinois. They’re by no means a lock, but Ball State looks like the better team, and should be able to win this one.

Ohio (4-3; 1-2 MAC) at Akron (1-5; 0-2 MAC): I don’t feel good about picking either team to win this game. Akron seems to be improving a little, but is still not a good team, while Ohio started their annual late-season collapse early this year. If there’s going to be an upset this week, I think this is it. So I guess, just for kicks, I’m going to pick Akron.

Temple (5-2; 3-1 MAC) at Bowling Green (3-4; 1-2 MAC): 131 minutes and 58 seconds of game time have elapsed since anyone scored on Temple. Unfortunately for the Owls, that’s not long enough for me to ignore their 36-13 home loss to Toledo, to whom the Falcons just lost by 7. Even if you think the Falcons raised their level of play for the rivalry game, that’s still a big difference. I think Bowling Green is a better team than they’re getting credit for, and I’m not sold on Temple, so I think the Falcons will gut it out and win a close one.

Miami (2-4; 1-1 MAC) at Toledo (4-3; 3-0 MAC): Their defenses are holding opponents to similar numbers — both are averaging in the low 20s of points allowed — but Toledo’s offense is scoring more than twice as much as Miami’s. The Rockets will blast through this game with little trouble and head into their bye week with a 4-0 conference record.

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