MACtion Odds, Picks: How Our Staff is Betting Tonight’s College Football Games (Tuesday, Nov. 16)
Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Bowling Green logo on a cast iron fence.
- When the week hits Tuesday, it means MACtion is back.
- We have three college football games on tonight's slate: Toledo vs. Ohio, Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan and Miami (OH) vs. Bowling Green.
- Check out how our staff is betting all three MAC games below.
The MACtion Network is back for one of the best nights of the week.
Tuesday night’s college football slate features three games from the MAC, including a matchup between perennial contenders, a battle between in-state rivals, and a nightcap with two teams that have been trending up this season.
But as solid as the matchups are, does it really matter? There’s Tuesday night football to bet on. That’s what matters.
Tuesday College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college football staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Toledo vs. Ohio
Two teams that have been perennial favorites in their respective MAC divisions each year are now fighting to have a postseason.
With a loss to Northern Illinois earlier in the season, Toledo must win one of its final two games to reach six wins to be considered for bowl season. The Rockets have three losses in MAC play by a combined eight points but has to fight through Ohio and Akron to end the regular season.
The Bobcats have been a cash cow over the past six weeks of play, supporting a 5-1 mark against the number. Head coach Tim Albin took over coaching duties this summer on the heels of quarterback Nathan Rourke’s departure.
Ohio took its bumps to start the season in a 20-point loss to Syracuse as a favorite before losing outright to Duquesne.
Albin is now looking for a way to survive the MAC East with three conference losses, as Miami (OH) and Kent State both sit a game ahead in the standings.
Finn’s Maturation at QB Huge for Rockets
The maturation of Dequan Finn at the quarterback position has been vital for Toledo. The freshman from Detroit has posted eight touchdowns to just one interception over the past three games and obtained his highest QBR of the season in a 49-point outburst last week versus Bowling Green.
His ability to maneuver through the pocket has kept defenses on their heels.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 11, 2021
While the quality of the passing game has improved, Finn relies heavily on zone read and play-action passing to wide receivers Isaiah Winstead and Devin Maddox.
Toledo is more than just a dual-threat quarterback with explosive wide receivers, as Bryant Koback is just shy of 1,000 yards on the season with nine touchdowns.
Toledo Needs to Defend Explosiveness
While the offense schemes between 11 and 12 formations, the defense has been multiple.
Defensive coordinator Vince Kehres started the transformation of the defense in 2020, and those seeds are bearing fruit in 2021. Toledo is fourth in the nation in tackling and top-25 in Defensive Havoc, coverage and Rushing Success Rate.
Kehres predominately calls a 3-3-5 scheme but has called seven different schemes more than a dozen times this season. Any scheme that has a four-down front has blitzed 35% of snaps.
The one area the Rockets struggle in is defending the explosive play. Toledo is top-20 in both standard downs and passing downs Success Rate, but that ranking falls to outside the top 75 in regard to the explosive play.
Eastern Michigan generated 52 points against Toledo by obtaining two-plus first downs on all nine of its offensive possessions. The Eagles were stuffed on just 25% of rushing attempts, which may be a window into how Ohio will game plan on offense.
Bobcats Dominating on the Ground
The Bobcats may be the best-kept secret in the betting world, taking only a single loss against the spread in the past six weeks. Ohio was net -3 in turnovers against the Kent State in that ATS loss, as stability in ball protection has been crucial in covering all other games.
Albin has continued the offensive philosophy of former head coach Frank Solich, calling 59% rush while rotating between the 11 and 12 formations.
Defenses that cannot defend the rush have struggled against running back De’Montre Tuggle, who has also been a weapon with the wheel route.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 3, 2021
UNLV transfer quarterback Armani Rogers posted 183 rushing yards against Buffalo before being limited to just five designed runs against Miami (OH) and Kent State. Rogers was back to rushing the ball in last week’s victory over Eastern Michigan, gaining 61 yards on 10 carries.
Rogers has become a great resource to spell starting quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who can also run the ball. That’s a valuable asset for both signal-callers, as Ohio is 11th in the nation in Line Yards, moving trenches against every opponent.
Ohio Defense Has Not Matched Its Offense
The defense is where the Bobcats’ struggles start.
Ohio runs a 4-2-5 scheme and calls blitz on less than 19% of defensive snaps. This style of defense has generated a rank of 125th in Defensive Havoc with particular issues in getting to the quarterback. Ohio is 116th in passing downs Sack Rate and 113th in Success Rate when teams fall behind schedule.
While the 4-2-5 has been crucial in stopping the explosive play, Ohio is giving up plenty of yards with a defense that ranks 127th in tackling.
Toledo vs. Ohio Betting Pick
These teams have not played since 2017, long before Tuggle and Rogers came to Athens for Bobcat football.
The biggest handicap against Ohio is if an opponent can defend the run. Toledo has been one of the best rushing defenses in the nation, stuffing 148-of-371 opponent attempts. The Rockets are 10% above the national average in Stuff Rate and will consistently get behind the Bobcats’ offensive line.
Another advantage for the Rockets comes in the red zone. Toledo is 23rd in Defensive Finishing Drives because of its ability to limit touchdowns. The Rockets have the seventh-best touchdown scoring percentage defense of all FBS teams in the red zone.
In contrast, the Ohio defense is outside the top 100 in Finishing Drives and must contain Finn and the zone read.
The Bobcats defense has allowed 5.4 yards per play to rushing attempts, as opponents are hitting a Success Rate on the ground 13% above the national average. Ohio has nearly half the Stuff Rate percentage of the Toledo defense, as the Bobcats rank 109th in stopping runs at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Another tough aspect for Ohio is standard downs explosiveness, as Finn and the Toledo offense are the best team in the nation at coming up with chunk plays when the offense is on schedule.
There are plenty of advantages in the advanced statistics to make a case for Toledo, from the ground attacks to a monster gap in tackling grades.
Rockets head coach Jason Candle is also 15th in “Middle 8” scoring, a stat that looks at point differential four minutes before and after halftime. Albin, meanwhile, has struggled in his first year as a head coach with a rank of 92nd in the Middle 8.
The Action Network projection on the total is 53 with both teams’ respective ranks in plays per minute and Finishing Drives. The value sits with the point spread with a projection of Toledo -7.
Even with Ohio’s magical run at covering the spread, this is the toughest rush defense the Bobcats will see, and it comes against a motivated Toledo team looking to go bowling.
Pick: Toledo -7 or Better
Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
A Tuesday night in-state MACtion battle between the two worst teams in MAC West? Sign me up.
The Western Michigan Broncos will head to Ypsilanti to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Both teams currently own a 6-4 record, and in their last 10 games, they’ve won five each. However, the Eagles have a much better record where it matters — against the spread — posting a 7-3 record over the last 10.
The MAC West is a very competitive division with no true bottom-dweller, so while they’re fighting to avoid a last-place ranking, neither of these teams are considerably worse than the other.
This game will also be the first to kick off the competition for the “Michigan MAC Trophy,” which is awarded to the best MAC school from Michigan against the other directional Michigan schools in the conference.
With a win over the Broncos, Eastern Michigan will move to 7-4. The Eagles have not won seven of the first 11 games in a season since 1989, so a victory would also set them up for their first eight-win season since 1987 when they won their only MAC Championship.
But it won’t be easy for an Eagles team that ranks 27th in offense and 83rd in defense nationally against the Broncos, who find themselves ranked 54th on offense and 94th on defense.
Can the Eagles step up as a home dog and continue a chase for their best season in over 20 years?
Broncos Need to Keep Possession of the Ball
Western Michigan comes into this game after a high-scoring win over Akron.
The Broncos picked up the 45-40 win with quarterback Kaleb Eleby leading the way. Eleby posted a 174.1 QB rating while recording one rushing touchdown and two through the air.
Running back Sean Tyler had a solid game and continues to be the workhorse of the Broncos offense. Rushing for 147 yards on just 16 carries against Akron, he also added on one touchdown.
One of the most important factors for Western Michigan against EMU will be to continue to dominate the time of possession. So far this season, the Broncos have averaged possession for 59% of the game. Keeping the ball away from the Eagles’ Air Raid offense that has had success against secondaries far better than the Broncos will be vital.
The Broncos’ rush-first offense matches up well against an Eagles defense that allows 195 rushing yards per game. But to secure a win on the road this week, keeping the ball out of the Eagles’ hands as much as possible may be the clearest path to success.
Defensively, the Broncos are allowing 30 points per game and 210 passing yards on average, something the Eagles should have no trouble taking advantage of if given the chance.
Ben Bryant Gives Eagles a Boost
The Eagles will look to attack the air like they have for most of the season. They rank 15th in the country in completion percentage (55.28%) and 22nd in passing yards per game (286.4).
Eastern Michigan has improved considerably this year with Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant at quarterback. He’s completing 69.7% of his passes so far, and in three of his last four games, he’s recorded over and has 300 yards.
The Eagles rank 55th nationally in completion percentage while also sitting 22nd in passing yards.
One concern for Bryant this weekend will be the level of protection he’ll have. The Broncos boast a 9.59% Sack Rate, ranked 10th in the country. They will undoubtedly be one of the biggest challenges the Eagles’ offensive line faces this season.
The Eastern Michigan offense averages 34.0 points per game and 392.3 yards per game. Defensively, it’s allowing 28.2 points and 431.4 yards.
Western Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan Betting Pick
Outside of special teams, where Eastern Michigan has a massive advantage, these two teams are pretty evenly matched and have a lot to play for.
Therefore, I’ll take the points with the Eagles in what I expect to be a close game. I’m also going to be betting the over, as both teams match up worse defensively where the other team excels offensively.
I bet Eastern Michigan at +6.5. However, I did play it small as I’ll continue to look for the key number of 7 at -120 or better until kickoff. I got the over at 66 and would play it as high as 68.
Pick: Eastern Michigan +6.5 or better · Over 66 (Play to 68)
Bowling Green vs. Miami (OH)
MACtion rolls along on Tuesday as MAC East leader Miami (Ohio) hosts 3-7 Bowling Green.
The Falcons got trounced at home last Wednesday by Toledo, 49-17, making that three straight games BGSU has allowed over 40 points. Bowling Green has only one win in the MAC this season on the road at Buffalo, and outside of that one win, it’s really struggled to move the ball offensively.
Now, it’ll be going up against one of the best defenses in the MAC, so things don’t look great for the Falcons traveling to Oxford, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Miami (OH) has been playing much better ever since starting quarterback Brett Gabbert returned after missing games in October.
It’s in the driver’s seat in the MAC East but has a huge game to end the season against Kent State that in all likelihood will decide who goes to Detroit for the MAC Championship.
Bowling Green Offense Continues to Struggle
It’s been a real struggle for Bowling Green on offense, as it’s averaging only 4.9 yards per play and ranks 106th in Success Rate.
Quarterback Matt McDonald has really struggled to move the ball through the air this season. He’s averaging only 6.7 yards per attempt and has a 65.3 PFF passing grade with 14 turnover-worthy plays in 10 games.
That’s a problem because teams have to attack the Miami defense through the air, as the RedHawks rank outside the top 100 in Passing Success Rate Allowed. However, Bowling Green does throw the ball 53.8% of the time, which is one of the highest rates in the MAC, so it may be able to move the ball on the RedHawks secondary.
The rushing attack hasn’t been able to do anything, which is why Bowling Green is throwing the ball at such a high rate.
The Falcons gain only 3.5 yards per carry, and if you remove the 227-yard performance against a terrible Buffalo run defense, the Falcons are gaining only 2.8 yards per carry against the rest of their opponents this season.
Can Falcons Defense Stop the Pass?
The Falcons really struggle from a Success Rate standpoint, with a lot of their difficulties coming against the run.
Bowling Green is allowing 5.3 yards per carry and ranks 116th in EPA/Rush allowed. The front seven is also graded as the 82nd-best run defense unit, per PFF and ranks outside the top 100 in Rushing Success Rate allowed and Defensive Line Yards.
So, even though the RedHawk rushing attack hasn’t been great this season, they should be able to establish the run on Tuesday night.
The Falcons’ secondary has surprisingly been very good versus the pass. Bowling Green sits 22nd in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 19th in EPA/Pass allowed.
However, they’re allowing a few too many big plays in the passing game, ranking 85th in passing explosiveness allowed. That’s a problem going up against Gabbert and Company, who have lived on big plays in the passing game, ranking 21st nationally in passing explosiveness.
Gabbert Has Been Huge for RedHawks
The overall offensive numbers for Miami (OH) haven’t been great this season, ranking 95th in Success Rate, but it’s been a night and day difference ever since Gabbert returned from injury.
Since Gabbert returned against Ball State, the RedHawks are gaining 6.98 yards per play, and Gabbert has been on fire in the passing game. He’s averaging 9.1 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns, compared to only one interception.
During that three-game span, Gabbert put up a passing grade over 85 with eight big-time throws, per PFF. So, he should be able to put up some explosive passing plays against Bowling Green’s secondary.
Brett Gabbert goes deep to Jack Sorenson on the flea flicker for the Miami TD. Big play for the Redhawks as they strike first.
MIAMI OH 7
— CFB Blitz (@BlitzCfb) November 10, 2021
The RedHawk rushing attack hasn’t really been that effective, gaining only 4.3 yards per attempt and ranking 100th in EPA/Rush. However, they ran the ball for 5.1 yards per carry and had a 0.47 EPA/Rush, which is well above their season average.
So, they should be able to run the ball on one of the worst run defenses in the MAC on Tuesday.
Miami (OH) Hoping to Create Havoc
Miami’s defense has been built on creating turnovers this season. The RedHawks are 20th in the nation in Havoc and have been putting a ton of pressure on the opposing quarterback, as PFF has them graded as the 34th-best pass-rushing unit in college football.
That’s a huge advantage in this matchup, considering Bowling Green’s offensive line is 123rd in terms of a pass-blocking grade and 117th in Havoc Allowed.
While the Miami secondary has been well below average this season, ranking 109th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and 107th in coverage, putting pressure on McDonald is going to pay big dividends. When the Falcons quarterback is pressured, he has a 49.2 passing grade with six turnover-worthy plays, per PFF.
Bowling Green vs. Miami (OH) Betting Pick
Miami (OH) has been a much better team with Gabbert under center, and with the offense clicking the way it is right now, I’m not sure how Bowling Green is going to stop it given how bad its defense has been the last three games.
I have the RedHawks projected at -20.18, so I think there’s some value on Miami at -15.5 and would play it up to -17.