Western Michigan-Ball State Betting Preview: Beware of Fading the Public

Western Michigan-Ball State Betting Preview: Beware of Fading the Public article feature image

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jayden Reed

Western Michigan at Ball State Betting Odds

  • Spread: Western Michigan -7.5
  • Over/Under: 54.5
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

>> All odds as of 9 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets

By John Ewing

Here at The Action Network, we like to go against the grain and back the teams that no one wants to back. But for whatever reason, that hasn’t been a successful strategy when betting #MACtion games.

According to our Bet Labs data, MAC teams during weekday games getting fewer than 40% of bets have gone 67-91-5 (42.4%) against the spread since 2005. Only 26% of spread tickets are it’currently on Ball State.

Should you ride with the public, or are you brave enough to back Ball State?

Market Moves for Ball State-Western Michigan

This line opened Western Michigan -7.5 and has pretty much stayed there despite such a heavy public backing on the Broncos. Some books are offering a juiced Ball State +7.5, which means it’s more likely to move to +7 as of now.

Despite 80% of over/under bets hitting the over, the total has dropped from 56.5 to 56.

No Home-Field Advantage

By Steve Petrella

Ball State has the sixth-worst home-field advantage, according to our metrics. Our Collin Wilson gives the Cardinals just 1.09 points for being at home, way off the standard 3-4 that’s usually given for a home team in college football.

Why? Ball State is 32-43 against the spread at home since 2005. In the last five seasons, it’s 8-20 ATS.

WMU Hurting Without Wassink

By Steve Petrella

It’s been two games since Western Michigan lost quarterback Jon Wassink to a season-ending foot injury. And the results have been mixed.

The Broncos got blown out by Toledo — it lost Wassink to that injury on the first drive of that game — but backup Kaleb Eleby went 23-of-28 for 293 yards and two scores in that game.

Last week, Eleby went 10-of-19 for 152 yards with one score and two interceptions in a blowout loss to Ohio. Growing pains for a true freshman, or a sign of things to come?

The most interesting difference is the offensive line play. On the season, WMU ranks fourth nationally in sack rate. Wassink was sacked four times all season. But Eleby has been sacked seven times in just two games. Is that the result of a true freshman holding onto the ball too long?

Eleby is one of the highest-rated recruits in WMU history. He’s got a rocket arm, and some real natural ability. But he’s still a true freshman, and that showed last week.

Ball State Has Its Own QB Issues

By Steve Petrella

Like WMU, Ball State lost its starting QB, Riley Neal, several weeks ago. The Cardinals have turned to Drew Plitt. He threw for 340 yards last week against Toledo, but it took him 47 attempts to do it.

Also like WMU, Ball State is usually fine at protecting the quarterback. But with Plitt under center, the Cardinals have allowed six sacks in the last two weeks.

In 160 attempts over the past two seasons, Plitt is completing 55.6% at 6.3 yards per attempt with a 5-7 TD/INT ratio.

I give WMU the edge at quarterback in this game.

Key Trend: Turnovers Correct Quickly

By Evan Abrams

Turnovers are based in part on luck, and that luck tends to even out over time. But when the turnover margin is huge in a good team’s previous game, it covers its next game often.

Western Michigan was -6 in turnover margin against Ohio in its last game.

Since 2005, teams that are over .500 that simply lost the turnover battle in their previous game are covering the spread just 49.6% of the time in their next game.

But when the turnover margin is even bigger, the opportunities begin to appear.

  • -4 or higher TO diff: 142-109-5 ATS (56.6%), +26.7 units
  • -5 or higher TO diff: 51-31-1 ATS (62.2%), +17.3 units
  • -6 or higher TO diff: 17-9 ATS (65.4%), +6.8 units

Bet to Watch

By Steve Petrella

Western Michigan has been horrid the past two weeks, but coming off a much-needed bye week against a lower level of competition, the Broncos should be in better shape. Eleby is talented, and perhaps the extra time off helped his learning and development.

I’d like to get WMU at -7 or better, but I don’t know if that will happen. I’ll wait it out.

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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