College Football Odds & Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Wednesday’s MAC Conference Opening Games
Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The 2019 MAC Conference Champion Miami (OH) RedHawks.
- The return of midweek MACtion is truly an event deserving of raucous celebration.
- Our staff is so excited to bet on MAC football again that they've contributed four Best Bets for tonight's action.
- Below, check out their top MACtion picks with full betting analysis and updated odds for each game.
Sure, the United States Election results are still filtering in throughout the day Wednesday, but don’t let that bury the lede for today’s most important news story:
The return of midweek MACtion.
Conference play resumes Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET with all 12 conference teams in action this evening. Stuckey has penned over 10,000 words of betting analysis for each of tonight’s six matchups, plus team-by-team guides in his MACtion Manifesto. On top of that, Collin Wilson delivered an exposé on betting MAC Conference Futures earlier this week.
But that wasn’t enough.
We had to run it back with a midweek Staff Best Bets column just to be certain you heard us, loud and clear:
THE MAC IS BACK, PEOPLE. Bettors, rejoice!
Wednesday College Football Best Bets for Week 10 MACtion:
Our four staff best bets for Wednesday evening MACtion come from one or multiple of the four games below. Click on any of the following matchups to navigate to Stuckey’s matchup-based betting analysis for the game of interest.
- 6 p.m. ET | Eastern Michigan at Kent State
- 7 p.m. ET | Buffalo at Northern Illinois
- 7 p.m. ET | Ball State at Miami (OH)
- 7 p.m. ET | Ohio at Central Michigan
Click on any of the four authors’ names to be directed to their Action Network author’s page with complete archives of past college football analysis. Click on any of the following betting recommendations to jump to that pick recommendation.
- Mike Calabrese | Buffalo -400 & Kent State -6.5 Parlay (+138)
- Darin Gardner | Ball State Moneyline (+108) vs. Miami (OH)
- Mike Ianniello | Buffalo -11 (-109) vs. Northern Illinois
- Pat McMahon | Ohio vs. Central Michigan Under 59.5 (-110)
Kent State -6.5 & Buffalo -400 Parlay (+138)
Aside from BYU, Kent State may be the biggest beneficiary of a scheduling shift in the entire country. The Golden Flashes originally had road trips scheduled to Penn State, Kentucky and Alabama. Instead of staring down the barrel of that Power Five gauntlet, Kent now opens its season at home against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.
This is an ideal time to catch a rebuilding EMU team that is tasked with replacing its leading passer, rusher and receiver. Conversely, Kent returns the MAC’s best quarterback (Dustin Crum) who finished the 2019 season with 26 total touchdowns and only four turnovers.
Last year in Ypsilanti, Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan 34-26, a performance that contributed to the team’s active five-game streak of scoring 30 or more points. I love the Golden Flashes at any number under 10, so to catch them below the key number of 7 is ideal.
While the Golden Flashes can claim the MAC’s best quarterback, Buffalo has far and away the best team. Buffalo returns 80% of its 2019 offensive production (16th in FBS) and boasts 10 defensive starters that are either juniors or seniors. That continuity should empower them to continue their in-conference dominance. The Bulls finished last season 6-2 against the spread (ATS) in MAC play, besting the closing number by nearly a touchdown in each contest.
This team’s identity runs through Jaret Patterson, who Pro Football Focus listed on its preseason All-American team behind Alabama’s Najee Harris and Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois returns just five starters and will struggle to limit teams through the air due to its lackluster pass rush (11th in MAC) and reshuffled secondary.
The line in this game opens up the possibility for a backdoor cover, so I’m adding UB on the moneyline in this parlay to flip the juice in my favor.
Ball State Moneyline +108 vs. Miami (OH)
|Ball State Odds||+2 (-112) [BET NOW]|
|Miami (OH) Odds||-2 (-109) [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+108 / -134 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||55 (-113 / -108) [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
With Ball State’s point spread sitting at +2 as of writing, I would lean towards the moneyline rather than taking the points.
The Cardinals are coming off a disappointing 5-7 season but had a positive point differential of over 3.0 points per game. Ball State definitely played better than its record suggested, and the offense was exceptional. In 2019, the Cardinals ranked 30th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, 33rd in Success Rate and 32nd in yards per play.
The offense returns several pieces, including quarterback Drew Plitt, and the Cardinals rank 22nd in FBS in total returning production. They will face a Miami defense that ranked 66th in Success Rate in 2019 and 91st in Finishing Drives (points per trip past the 40-yard line).
Additionally, Ball State should have an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Cardinals ranked 32nd in Line Yards and 28th in Stuff Rate. Their opponent, by contrast, ranked 86th in offensive Line Yards and 89th in Stuff Rate allowed a year ago.
Defensively, the Cardinals ranked 50th in Line Yards allowed and 42nd in Stuff Rate. Admittedly, those numbers are not particularly impressive, but they still easily outclass the Miami’s respective 2019 offensive metrics. The RedHawks offensive line ranked 123rd in Stuff Rate, 122nd in Line Yards, 98th in sack rate and 116th in front-seven Havoc allowed last season.
Miami’s 2019 issues were not limited to just the offensive line. The RedHawks ranked 121st in EPA per play, 122nd in Success Rate, and quarterback Brett Gabbert ranked 7th-worst in EPA per pass attempt among quarterbacks with at least 300 snaps.
I am very high on Ball State this season and actually have a position on them to win the conference at +900.
Buffalo -11 (-109) vs. Northern Illinois
|Buffalo Odds||-13 [BET NOW]|
|Northern Illinois Odds||+13 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-625 / +410 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Editors Note: Since this recommendation was submitted for publish, the line on Buffalo has moved significantly, from -11 at the time of writing versus -13.5 to -14.5 as of this update. Always shop for the best price using our College Football Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Not only is Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson the best running back in the MAC; he’s one of the best in the entire country. Patterson rushed for 1,799 yards last season, and the only running backs in all of college football to rush for more were Chuba Hubbard, J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor.
The Buffalo offense finished 48th in the country in offense Success Rate last season and returns 80% of its offensive production. The Bulls should have no problem moving the ball against an NIU defense that allowed 4.95 yards per carry in 2019, which ranked 110th in FBS.
The Buffalo defense was ELITE last season. It led the MAC in scoring defense, passing defense, rushing defense and defensive Success Rate. The Bulls defense ranked fourth in the entire country against the run, allowing just 94.2 yards per game. This dominant unit now returns seven starters, led by two stud defensive ends in Malcolm Koonce and Taylor Riggins. Koonce led the MAC in sacks (9.0) last season and Riggins finished second with 8.5.
The Bulls kick off the season against a Northern Illinois offense that ranked 109th in the country in offensive Success Rate. The Huskies’ 22.8 points per game was the third-lowest in the MAC, and this offense could be even worse this season: NIU returns only 39% of its 2019 offensive production. The Huskies lost their top four leading rushers — including their best offensive player in Tre Harbison, who transferred to Charlotte.
Northern Illinois returns 59% of its total production, which ranks 114th in FBS. The Huskies retain 14 starters from last season, and their roster composition features 55 returnees compared to 57 newcomers — including 47 true freshmen.
The Bulls are looking for their first win against Northern Illinois since joining the MAC and come into this season with expectations of earning a trip to Detroit for the MAC Championship. The last time they faced Northern Illinois was the 2018 MAC Championship, where Buffalo blew a 19-point lead late in the game and the Huskies scored with 1:09 remaining to win 30-29.
Rest assured: Buffalo has not forgotten about that game and will use their returning experience to make a statement in the season-opener.
Ohio vs. Central Michigan Under 59.5
by Pat McMahon
|Ohio Odds||-2.5 (-114) [BET NOW]|
|Central Michigan Odds||+2.5 (-107) [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-134 / +110 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||57 (-112 / -109) [BET NOW]|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
No one likes to root for an under, especially on midweek MACtion. However, in this MAC season-opener between the Chippewas and Bobcats, the under is the play that presents the most value. To me, the handicap here is simple- you have two of the better defenses in the league squaring off, and both teams are breaking in a new starting quarterback in run-heavy offenses, which is the recipe for a low-scoring affair.
Ohio has yet to name a replacement for Nathan Rourke, the school’s all-time leading passer, and the race is between Rourke’s younger brother Kurtis, and UNLV graduate transfer Armani Rogers. Bobcats coach Frank Solich likely won’t tip his hand until as close to kickoff as possible, but my money is on the more experienced Rogers to win the job. Rogers has 18 career starts under his belt and can give this offense another element with his excellent running ability. The Bobcats ran the ball on 61% of their plays last season; with a strong offensive line returning, look for them to keep it on the ground often on Wednesday for whichever quarterback gets the nod.
The Chippewas are awaiting word on senior quarterback David Moore’s appeal of a one-year suspension he was handed from the NCAA last October. If Moore is unavailable to play, Central Michigan will likely start redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson. Whoever lines up under center will have a tough matchup against one of the league’s most talented and experienced defenses. The Bobcats return eight starters on defense, including seven of their top eight defensive backs, so it’ll be tough sledding trying to beat Ohio through the air.
This is a big game as both teams have conference title aspirations and don’t want to start the season off with a loss. Both defenses ranked in the top four in total defense during conference play last season and return a ton of production. So, expect the offensive coordinators to call conservative games in order to protect their new quarterbacks. We could be in for an ugly game where the field position battle is important and the defenses shine. You’ll want to have an under ticket in your pocket.