We are officially one-sixth of the way through the 2020 Mid-American Conference season and MACtion returns Tuesday evening with a tripleheader.
Each day this week will bring sports bettors a college football game to bet on, with the MAC taking center stage on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s for the rest of the month. Tonight’s slate features two contests with rather large spreads and a matchup featuring two of the best teams in the conference.
Let’s dive into the MAC three-pack, and I’ll circle the Best Bet from each contest.
Akron at Ohio
Spread: Ohio -27.5
Total: O/U 59.5
Time/TV: 7:00PM ET, CBS Sports Network
All throughout college football, there has been a consistent theme for the season. Teams expected to do well have come out of the gates rusty, struggling along the way in season debuts. This hasn’t always resulted in an upset, but it’s made a lot of matchups interesting this season.
Look for Ohio to follow that same theme in their second game of the season when they have their home debut against arguably the worst team in all of college football, the Akron Zips.
Frank Solich began his 16th season of coaching the Ohio Bobcats (0-1 MAC) with a narrow 30-27 road defeat at the hands of Central Michigan, a game that saw the Bobcats lose two key fumbles and have a last-minute drive come up just short at the Chips 40-yard line.
While Ohio did not look rusty on the offensive side of the ball, where new starting quarterback Kurtis Rourke had a promising debut as the Bobcats’ new signal-caller, they did struggle on the defensive side of the ball, particularly on the ground where they gave up 184 yards rushing on the night.
Fortunately for Solich’s crew, the Akron Zips (0-1 MAC) will probably be the cure that ails them. After starting the season with an onside kick, the Zips managed to also take an early 7-3 lead on Western Michigan before the bottom fell out and Akron would get completely throttled in a 58-13 loss.
For the Zips it was their 18th consecutive loss dating back to the 2018 season and dropped them to a paltry 3-18 ATS in the MAC during that same time frame.
If there were any positives to take from last Wednesday’s blowout defeat, it would be that the Zips’ rushing attack looked fairly decent. The Akron tandem of Jeremiah Knight and Teon Dollard combined for over 140 yards on the night and were the lone bright spot on the evening for a football program going through some tough times.
Unfortunately for the Zips, those tough times are likely going to continue this evening. The last time these two teams met came in the 2019 season finale where Ohio managed to scrape by with a 52-3 road win. That’s about what you can expect to happen tonight as well. Ohio rolls and gets back to .500 on the season.
Prediction: Ohio 49, Akron 14
Best Bet: Ohio -27.5
Kent State at Bowling Green
Spread: Kent State -20.5
Total: O/U 55.5
Time/TV: 7:30PM ET, ESPN2
In the second of what could be two lopsided affairs in the MAC this evening, lowly Bowling Green (0-1 MAC) has their home opener of the season against Kent State (1-0 MAC).
Kent State enters tonight’s action fresh off a 27-23 season-opening win against Eastern Michigan that saw the Golden Flashes nearly squander a 20-9 halftime lead when they saw EMU storm back out in front 23-20 before a Dustin Crum touchdown pass with 7:31 remaining in the game gave Kent State the 27-23 lead and eventual final score.
The Golden Flashes put together a decent debut, but still showed signs of rust and had a rare red-zone interception from Dustin Crum. Just like Ohio before them, Kent State also will likely stand to benefit from playing the cellar dwellers of the MAC in Bowling Green.
The Falcons are coming off a woeful debut to their season that saw the team get double up offensively in a 38-3 road loss to Toledo. Bowling Green would wind up surrendering over 300 yards on the ground alone, and new quarterback Matt McDonald was absolutely dreadful in his debut as he went just 8 of 30 for 128 yards and two interceptions.
While Bowling Green did rack up 139 yards of rushing on the day, there was nothing else to write home about, and the Falcons slipped to just 3-11 ATS and overall in their last 14 games with two of those wins (and covers) coming against Akron and FCS member Morgan State.
In other words, the Falcons are a very bad team.
While there’s the temptation of taking the points with the home dog here, Kent State features the best QB in the conference in Dustin Crum, and this is a Bowling Green team that could not slow Toledo down whatsoever in their season debut. I expect much of the same to happen this evening.
Prediction: Kent State 45, Bowling Green 10
Best Bet: Kent State -20.5
Miami (OH) at Buffalo
Spread: Buffalo -7
Total: O/U 55.5
Time/TV: 8:00PM ET, ESPN
The two best teams in the MAC East face off this evening in the marquee matchup of the Tuesday night tripleheader when defending MAC Champion Miami Ohio meets Buffalo.
Each team enters this pivotal matchup coming off of season-opening victories with Buffalo coasting past Northern Illinois 49-30 and Miami rallying to beat Ball State 38-31. Each team also happened to cover in their season debuts.
For Buffalo, the Bulls picked up right where they left off a season ago and have now won seven of their last eight games, going 7-1 ATS along the way. Offensively, the Bulls are imposing and will try to get their running back tandem of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks going, as a season ago the duo combined to rush for 284 yards against this same Miami defense. If last week is any indication, the RedHawks defense may be in for a long night as they gave up 169 yards rushing in their come from behind victory over Ball State.
While the Bulls will probably run the ball about 70% of the time, they can make enough big plays in the passing game to keep the Miami defense honest. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease went a respectable 11 of 17 passing for 175 yards with a touchdown and interception last week, with Antonio Nunn catching six of those passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Where this matchup has real intrigue comes when Miami has the football. The RedHawks enter tonight’s game with starting quarterback Brett Gabbert listed as questionable on the team injury report, and Gabbert was unable to finish the season-opener against Ball State with a concussion. If Gabbert is not cleared to play, the RedHawks would turn to backup AJ Mayer who led the Miami rally going 16-of-24 with 212 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the second half.
With Mayer under center, the RedHawks offense seemed to come to life. Defensively, however, Miami struggled mightily in their debut, giving up nearly 500 yards of offense and almost 7 yards per play. They will need to clean up a lot of mistakes tonight against a dangerous Buffalo team or stand the risk of getting gouged defensively once again.
I think Buffalo cleans up a bit of the mistakes they made on the defensive side of the football, once again forces some turnovers of their own (forced 5 last week in win over NIU), and rides their ferocious running back tandem to avenge a 34-20 loss from a season ago. The point spread somewhat concerns though because Miami can also put up points. I’ll err on the side of caution here and take the over.
Prediction: Buffalo 38, Miami Ohio 31
Best Bet: OVER 55.5