Tuesday MACtion Betting: Odds, Tips for Ball State-Miami Ohio, NIU-Western Michigan
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gus Ragland and Jauan Wesley
When the clock strikes double zeroes on both Ball State-Miami Ohio and Northern Illinois-Western Michigan on Tuesday night, MACtion will take its annual 11-month hiatus.
Miami Ohio needs this win to get bowl eligible, and can even win the MAC East title with a victory over Ball State, then a Bowling Green win over Buffalo (which is a long shot; the Bulls are a 14-point favorite) and an Ohio win over Akron. Northern Illinois has already locked up the MAC West.
Let’s dive into Tuesday games.
>> All odds as of 10:45 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
Betting odds: Miami Ohio-Ball State
- Odds: Miami Ohio -17.5
- Over/Under: 54.5
- Time: 7 p.m.
- TV: ESPN+
Miami Ohio can stay alive in the MAC East race while also getting bowl eligible with a win over Ball State on Tuesday. The RedHawks would win the division with a win and Buffalo loss to Bowling Green and Ohio win over Akron.
Are the improving RedHawks a safe bet, or can Ball State hang tough in another game as a big underdog?
Was Plitt’s Improvement for Real?
By Steve Petrella
Last week, Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt had his first efficient performance in three games as the team’s starter. He went 21-of-26 for 258 yards with three scores and two interceptions.
That game came against a Western Michigan team that ranks 106th in yards per pass attempt allowed. Miami Ohio will pose a different challenge — the RedHawks rank 52nd in that same category and 45th in Passing S&P+ defense.
Ball State Throwing Even More
By Steve Petrella
The Cardinals like to throw the ball, and with the less-mobile Plitt under center, they’re throwing the ball on nearly 58% of their plays in the last three games. That ranks 14th in the country.
That’s a big part of the reason Ball State is tied for fifth nationally in plays per minute at 2.78. The Cardinals play fast and the clock is stopped often. But it hasn’t resulted in many overs cashing (3-6-1 to the under) because they can’t finish drives, ranking 100th in points per trip inside the 40-yard line.
Ball State Has Kept it Close
By Collin Wilson
Miami Ohio has covered seven of its past eight games and gone under in six of its past seven. The point spread is a tad high at Miami Ohio -17.5, with The Action Network power ratings making it -13.5 for the RedHawks.
This series hasn’t had a winner by more than 15 points the past five meetings in Miami.
With value on Ball State, it’s important to remember the Cardinals have lost three games by one score this season (Notre Dame, Western Kentucky and Northern Illinois). The Cardinals also rank 39th in the country in third-down conversion percentage.
While I like Miami Ohio to win outright, Ball State should extend drives with third-down conversions and take advantage of a passing attack that is at the top of the MAC.
The Ball State defense does a good job of limiting explosiveness, ranking 25th in standard downs and 15th against pass explosiveness. I will be looking to back Ball State +17.5 and the under pregame, and a nice price live on Miami to win straight up.
Trends to Know
By John Ewing
With a win, Miami Ohio can become bowl eligible. Since 2005, favorites with a 5-6 record playing their final game of the season have gone 59-19 straight up and 44-32-2 against the spread, per our Bet Labs data. But these same teams are only 15-17-1 ATS since 2014.
By Evan Abrams
Under Ball State’s current head coach Mike Neu, the Cardinals have been one of the most profitable teams to the under when playing on the road.
The under is 12-5-1 (70.6%) in Ball State road games under Neu, going under the total by 3.7 PPG, including 4-0-1 to the under in 2018. This partly due to the fact the Cardinals have really struggled to score on the road (18.3 PPG) compared to at home (28.2 PPG).
Betting odds: Northern Illinois-Western Michigan
- Odds: Northern Illinois -6.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
The betting public is all over Northern Illinois on Tuesday night, as the Huskies have garnered 66% of bets and 76% of dollars at the time of writing (check live data here).
But this is actually a decent matchup for Western Michigan — both from an X’s and O’s standpoint and from a situational perspective.
Western Michigan Matches Up Well
Let’s start with the matchup on paper. The Broncos really struggle to defend the pass and explosiveness, ranking 124th in Passing S&P+ defense and 120th in IsoPPP+, per S&P+.
However, NIU does not have the type of offense that can exploit those deficiencies, ranking 129th and 126th in those two categories on the offensive side of the ball, respectively. The WMU defense is far more equipped to stop the run than it is the pass.
Also, after firing one of its co-defensive coordinators, WMU could roll out some welcomed changes on a unit that has allowed an average of more than 50 points per game. Any new wrinkles could also catch a far-from-dynamic NIU offense off guard.
On the other side of the ball, WMU has struggled since losing starting quarterback Jon Wassink for a second straight season, which forced them to turn to freshman Kaleb Eleby, who has shown flashes while also understandably struggling at times.
The one thing WMU can lean on is its offensive line, which has only allowed 11 sacks on the year. The Broncos’ 1.0 sacks per game allowed ranks in the top 10 nationally, as does its adjusted sack rate.
That will come in handy against an NIU defense that has an FBS-leading 40 sacks on the season (tied with Clemson) and ranks in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate.
Eleby will have to hit some big plays deep in the passing game, which is one of the only relative weakness of NIU’s elite defense.
I’ve mentioned this before, but Western Michigan has the single worst special teams unit in the entire country. If you missed the Ohio game, it was a perfect example of how bad the Broncos have been in this phase (I mean, they muffed and lost two consecutive kickoffs!).
They rank 130th per S&P+ in Special Teams, primarily due to absolutely dreadful kicking and punting games. Having a freshman punter and freshman kicker certainly doesn’t help.
That said, NIU has also been very weak on special teams this year, so it’s not as big of a deficit in that department as usual.
Situational Spot Favors WMU
From a situational perspective, you have to favor WMU. While the Broncos do have six wins, that does not guarantee them a bowl appearance, as they found out last year when they didn’t reach a bowl after going 6-6.
I expect WMU to come out in its home finale with lots of energy and motivation, as the Broncos know this very well could be a bowl play-in game.
On the other hand, NIU doesn’t really have much to play for, having already locked in an appearance in the MAC Championship Game. The Huskies looked lethargic last week against Miami Ohio in a similar spot against a team fighting for a bowl and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out flat once again.
NIU has owned this MAC matchup in recent years (8-1 in the past nine games), but given that NIU isn’t built to exploit many of WMU’s weaknesses and NIU has the motivational edge, I’d look at the home dog here.
Trends to Know for NIU-WMU
By John Ewing
Northern Illinois is a road favorite over 6-5 Western Michigan. Since 2005, road favorites in weekday MAC games have gone 48-31-3 (61%) ATS but when favored against a team with a .500 or better record the road chalk is only 11-11 ATS.
By Evan Abrams
Northern Illinois ranks 123rd in the nation in scoring (never finished worse than 60th under Rod Carey). This week, the Huskies face a Western Michigan team very much playing a different game — scoring 33.6 PPG, but also allowing 34.5 PPG.
Under Carey, Northern Illinois has faced six teams both scoring and allowing at least 30 PPG, the Huskies are 6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS, covering the spread by 11 PPG.