Ball State vs. Central Michigan College Football Picks & Odds: Your Betting Guide for This MAC West Matchup

Ball State vs. Central Michigan College Football Picks & Odds: Your Betting Guide for This MAC West Matchup article feature image
Credit:

Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Plitt.

  • It's the return of the MAC.
  • Ball State hosts Central Michigan in a MAC West college football matchup on Wednesday night.
  • Our best bet for the conference showdown can be found below.

Ball State vs. Central Michigan Odds

Wednesday, Nov. 17
7 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Ball State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-105
57.5
-110o / -110u
+115
Central Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-115
57.5
-110o / -110u
-135
Odds as of Tuesday and via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football betting odds here.

Northern Illinois may have a tight grip on the MAC West, but Central Michigan and Ball State still have plenty to play for on Wednesday night.

Both teams sit just behind the Huskies in the race to make the conference championship, needing Northern Illinois to drop its remaining games — including one on Wednesday.

The Chippewas have recorded only five wins on the season, needing a victory over Ball State or Eastern Michigan in Week 13 to reach bowl eligibility.

The Cardinals have posted five wins up to this point and must win out at home here against Central Michigan and next week against Buffalo to remain in contention for the MAC West.

There has been a clear difference in scoring with these two teams, as Ball State has gone under the total in three straight games, while Central Michigan has gone over in three straight.

Both teams rank in the top 25 in tempo, which should make for great consumer viewing of MACtion.


Ball State Cardinals

Can Drew Plitt Propel Cardinals Offense?

Quarterback Drew Plitt has had a fantastic season from a touchdown-to-interception ratio perspective (15:4), but a closer look at the numbers shows volatility.

Plitt has more turnover-worthy plays on the season than big-time throws while having the lowest drop rate of his five seasons at Ball State. There has not been a change in scheme, as head coach Mike Neu continues to run 20 and 21 formations on 85% of snaps.

This offense won the MAC Championship game just a season ago but has fallen outside the top 100 in Passing Success Rate and pass explosiveness.

When the pass blocking has held up, shades of that explosive offense have returned in MAC play.

Drew Plitt to Jayshon Jackson for the 15 yard TD! #BallState pic.twitter.com/Yvc4QzduKw

— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) November 11, 2021

The defense has also struggled in the passing game, as the Cardinals support the third-worst rank in Passing Success Rate and a PFF grade of 97th in coverage.

Early downs are where the Ball State defense gets in trouble, ranking 125th in standard downs Success Rate.

The defense schemes in and out of a 2-4-5 and 2-5-4 depending on down and distance, but with a heavy set in the back seven, this defense is 110th in Havoc Rate.

A minimal blitz rate of 14% has this defense constantly playing off its heels.


Central Michigan Chippewas

CMU Offense Relies on Explosiveness

The point totals continue to increase for the Chippewas, throwing more offensive points on the board in each of the last four games.

The defensive competition has lightened for quarterback Daniel Richardson, who posted four touchdowns and 268 yards passing against Kent State last week.

Richardson hit six different receivers for at least 20 yards through the air in the victory.

Daniel Richardson launches a second TD to Dallas Dixon for 19 yards 🚀 #CFB
pic.twitter.com/5I9l3wI2hz

— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 11, 2021

Central Michigan has rising ranks on the offensive side of the ball splitting time between 11 and 12 formations with an even balance of run and pass.

The biggest aspect of the offense is the explosive play, as 15% of offensive possessions have averaged more than 10-plus yards per play.

Over the past three games Richardson has a 9:1 ratio in big-time throws versus turnover-worthy plays.

With the good comes the bad, as the Central Michigan defense also gives up a handful of explosive plays per game. The Chippewas are 108th in standard downs explosiveness on defense, showing that when teams look downfield early in drives, they find plenty of success.

The defense is boom-or-bust out of the 4-2-5 scheme, sending blitz on 35% of downs. Central Michigan is top-10 in tackles for loss, creating a high rank in Defensive Havoc, but those blitz attempts have been picked apart throughout the season.

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Ball State vs. Central Michigan Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Central Michigan and Ball State match up statistically:

Central Michigan Offense vs. Ball State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 56 91
Line Yards 34 87
Pass Success 31 128
Pass Blocking** 51 22
Big Play 21 34
Havoc 56 110
Finishing Drives 63 90
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Ball State Offense vs. Central Michigan Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 70 53
Line Yards 69 60
Pass Success 101 81
Pass Blocking** 80 44
Big Play 99 94
Havoc 24 23
Finishing Drives 47 99
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 40 12
Coverage 67 97
Middle 8 56 121
SP+ Special Teams 82 63
Plays per Minute 24 22
Rush Rate 51.3% (88) 51.4% (87)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Ball State vs. Central Michigan Betting Pick

An opening total of 62.5 has moved down to 59.5 as the chance of precipitation in the forecast has increased.

Both teams have middling ranks in Special Teams SP+, but Mother Nature may cause a few kicks to blow south. Rain and steady winds over 15 mph are expected, with the heaviest of weather predicted in the second half.

Central Michigan has the offensive advantage in this game with Richardson’s ability to create explosive plays. The Ball State defense has been steam-rolled in standard downs this season from a Success Rate perspective, but the Cardinals are designed to stop the explosive play.

The defensive scheme that has nine players off the line of scrimmage has created a top-35 defense in big-play prevention, specifically one that ranks second in defensive passing expected points.

If Central Michigan wants to score, methodical drives — not explosive plays — will put points on the board.

The Action Network projected total is 59.5 right in line with the current market. The biggest key number in totals for college football is 59, making the full-game under a play through 59. No first-half play can be suggested with the heaviest of weather expected after halftime.

The Chippewas are projected as 3-point favorites, but the market opened with Ball State as a favorite.

The splits by quarter must be noted, as Central Michigan has started slow with -2.3 net points in the first quarter and +5.3 in the second quarter. Ball State has been the exact opposite on the season, netting +2.1 points in the first quarter and -6 in the second quarter.

Because of the discrepancies and the weather expected for the second half, Ball State pre-game and Central Michigan second quarter live bets are in order.

There’s also a huge discrepancy in “Middle 8” rankings, with Ball State at 121st on the season. This further enforces a live bet on the Chippewas in the second quarter.

Pick: Under 59 or Better | Live Bets

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