MAC pick ’em, week 9
Last week I went 4-2, bringing me to 56-20 for the season with an asterisk on one miss (Toledo-Syracuse). I thought Akron would have a better showing against Ohio, and I honestly didn’t think EMU was going to beat Western Michigan. Oh me of little faith!
This week there are just four MAC games. EMU, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Ohio, and Temple all have the weekend “off”, though only EMU (5-3; 3-1 MAC) has a true bye week; Northern Illinois (5-3; 3-1 MAC) will play at Toledo (5-3; 4-0 MAC) Tuesday night and Temple (5-3; 3-2 MAC) will play at Ohio (5-3; 2-2 MAC) Wednesday night in a pair of games that will go a long way toward settling the division races.
Central Michigan (2-6; 1-3 MAC) at Akron (1-6; 0-3 MAC): Every week I think to myself, “This is the week that Akron’s finally going to put things together and come away with a win,” and every week the Zips come up short. They’ve got a shot this week, but I don’t think they can quite keep up with Central Michigan’s scoring; while I wouldn’t be surprised by an Akron win, I think the Chippewas are the more likely victors Saturday.
Bowling Green (4-4; 2-2 MAC) at Kent State (1-6; 0-3 MAC): This is the one game that looks like a really easy pick. Against FBS opponents, Kent State is averaging 7 points per game and Bowling Green is averaging 24.7. I think that’s really all you need to know to pick the Falcons in this one.
Ball State (5-3; 3-1 MAC) at Western Michigan (4-4; 2-2 MAC): Ball State’s been a very up-and-down team this year. The Cardinals opened the season with a win over Indiana (at the time I gave them credit for beating a B1G team, but the Hoosiers are averaging a 25-point margin of loss in their conference games) but then lost to South Florida (which didn’t look bad at the time, but now that the Bulls are 0-3 in the Big East, it’s another story). They got shut out at home by Temple, 42-0, but then eked out a win at Ohio. The five teams they’ve beaten have combined for just 8 FBS wins this season. Western Michigan, on the other hand, seems to have completely fallen apart over the last 6 1/2 quarters of play, going back to midway through the second quarter at Northern Illinois. The Broncos have simply not looked like the same team that throttled Central Michigan 44-14 in week 3. I don’t feel very good about this pick, but I think Western Michigan, returning to Kalamazoo, where they’re 3-0 this year, is going to get things mostly sorted out. Also, I think Pete Lembo is probably a good coach, and I think he’ll get things turned around in Muncie, but I’m not sold on Ball State’s huge turnaround this year. It may be close, but if I had to choose (and isn’t that the point of pick ’em), I’d choose the Broncos.
Buffalo (2-6; 1-3 MAC) at Miami (2-5; 1-2 MAC): Astonishingly enough, given the records, both these teams sit right in the middle of the MAC East Division standings. When you take out Buffalo’s game against Stony Brook (Miami hasn’t played any FCS teams this year — good for them!), the RedHawks have a slightly better scoring offense and a meaningfully better scoring defense than the Bulls. On the other hand, Miami is a truly one-dimensional team — they average just 1.93 yards per carry and have rushed for just 412 yards this season, less than 70 per game, while Buffalo averages 3.98 yards per carry (FBS only) and averages 140 per game. In the end, I think Miami is slightly better, is playing at home, and has a better coach, and that will give them the edge.