Friday’s MAC Best BetsEditor's Note: Don't miss out on College Football winners from Matt Blunt on VegasInsider.com. Click to win!
College Football "Black Friday" MACtionCold weather and poor offensive play got the better of both teams in last week's Colorado State/Wyoming contest, killing any chance the 'over' had to get there by halftime. It was the lone scenario I outlined that would lead to a Wyoming and 'under' result, as even though it ended as a 10-point victory for the Cowboys, it was a close game that Wyoming never trailed in throughout, and that was the best case scenario for an 'under' to come in.
This week we get a slew of college football games all throughout the day on Friday, as the annual post-Thanksgiving card is always heavy with collegiate football action. This year is no different, and who doesn't like to replenish some of those Black Friday funds the early morning shopping seemingly everyone wants to have some part in.
Hopefully this week's plays will help you recoup some of that dough spent on Black Friday deals, as I've got a favorite, underdog, and total play to break down. And while there are some games on Friday that feature more prominent programs, if you are a fan of MACtion, then this piece is for you.
Miami-Ohio at Ball State (CBSSN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Favorite Best Bet: Ball State (-3)On the surface, seeing a 4-7 SU Ball State team flat out laying the consensus home field advantage number (-3) against a 7-4 SU Miami (OH) team may seem a bit puzzling to some. After all, Miami (OH) is the MAC East champion this year and have rolled through conference play with a 6-1 SU record. But it's precisely that fact that the Redhawks are division champions that makes Ball State a great play.
Miami (OH) has absolutely nothing to play for in this game as they've got bigger fish to fry next week (MAC Title game) and it's a spot where the Redhawks could simply be out there going through the motions, not trying to get hurt. They've blown out Ball State the past two years – as expected with SU and ATS wins laying -17 and -15.5 – won this rivalry game the past three years, and can't be excited for this game at all considering what they've got on deck.
Conversely, Ball State may not be a great team, but this is what they've got to consider as their “Bowl game” in an otherwise down year. The season hasn't finished out how they would have liked with four straight losses coming into this game – the last three of which came by 4 points or less – and this final game presents them with one final opportunity to end the year on a high note. Beating a rival is always nice, but beating a rival that was a division champion tends to feel that extra bit sweeter for a team like the Cardinals that knows their season is over after this one.
This line tells you all you need to know about the motivation levels and overall prospects for both teams involved, as Ball State should win this game by at least a TD.
Toledo at Central Michigan (ESPNU, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Underdog Best Bet: Toledo (+9.5)The focus on the MAC continues with this play, as this Toledo/Central Michigan game has some concerning motivational aspects involved with it as well.
It all starts with whether or not Central Michigan really wants to be here, as pending Tuesday's result in the Western Michigan/Northern Illinois game, they could have a lot, or nothing at all to play for. A SU loss by Western Michigan in that game means that the MAC West title is still in play for Central Michigan, and all they would need is an outright win. If that scenario comes to fruition, it means that the pressure to win becomes that much greater for the Chippewas, and pressure can do some funny things when you are essentially a double digit favorite.
Yet, this play is on the basis of making an educated guess that Western Michigan – who's laying nearly double digits themselves on Tuesday night – will come away with the win over Northern Illinois and wrap up the MAC West crown. That means that Central Michigan has absolutely nothing to play for in this game, and chances are we see this number come crashing down. I'm looking to stay ahead of the market in that respect and looking to take the best of it while I can.
Granted, a Western Michigan loss on Tuesday would likely influence this line the other way and it won't be the best of the number at all, but sometimes in this business you've got to fire with incomplete information at your disposal to get the best of it, and as I said earlier, I expect Western Michigan to take care of their business, meaning that I do believe this game means nothing for Central Michigan. And while it can be argued that it means little to Toledo – who is already Bowl eligible with six wins – this Rockets team is in dire need of a confidence boost going into all those December practices.
Conference play has not been kind to Toledo this year, as they've got a losing record in conference play (3-4 SU), and nothing has come easy. They had one of the losses of the year in college football when they lost 20-7 to Bowling Green as -26.5 chalk, a game that they haven't been able to live down. That defeat sparked a 2-4 SU run coming into this game, and both wins were by three points or less. Understandably, all of this could be part of a case for betting against Toledo here, especially when their previous three road conference games have all resulted in SU losses by at least 13 points.
However, given the even worse spot for Central Michigan (in all likelihood), taking the points is something I prefer to do here, especially when you see the majority of action already on the Chippewas – betting percentage numbers currently at VegasInsider.com have Central Michigan taking a healthy 80%+ of action right now – and the number hasn't moved.
Toledo would love to feel better about their overall game heading into Bowl season, and hanging tough against a decent team is a great way to do that. Pending Tuesday's result with Western Michigan, this line for Toledo/Central Michigan will likely see some movement, and I'm betting now that it will move the Rockets way.
Kent State at Eastern Michigan (ESPN+, 12:00 p.m.)
Total Best Bet: Kent State/Eastern Michigan Over 65Rounding off this card with one final MACtion play, and it's another one that currently shows a strong majority of the action going the other way with the number yet to move.
Betting percentages currently show a healthy 75%+ on the low side of this total, and I'm not entirely sure why. Weather forecasts for Friday appear to be fine, and while 65 is the highest total Eastern Michigan has seen for one of their games this year, it's not like it's insurmountable.
Eastern Michigan has put up 40+ points in each of their past two games, and 34 or more in four of their last five. They are on a 4-0-1 O/U streak during that span, and while defensively they've tightened things up of late in allowing 14 and 17 points respectively – possibly a reason behind 'under' support – with six wins already themselves, a sense of urgency to get key stops may not necessarily be there for them this week. Eastern Michigan's defense has brought it the past two weeks, and now that those games, both on the road, resulted in wins to get them Bowl eligible, they could be out there looking to play in a track meet style game.
If that's the case, Kent State won't mind, as they've gone 3-0 O/U in their last three games overall, and three of their last five contests have finished with 68 or more points. In fact, if you eliminate their road game against arguably the worst team in all of college football – Akron – the Golden Flashes have allowed an average of 42.6 points per game. In conference road games (excluding Akron again) that number dips to 40 points allowed per contest, and with the Eagles hitting that mark the past two weeks, getting 35-40 points from Eastern Michigan in their 'loosey goosey' role of potentially wanting to pad stats, I don't believe that's a huge ask.
At the same time, Kent State needs a SU victory here to get Bowl eligible themselves, and they know that the strength of their team is on offense. They've put up 30 or more in their last three games and four of five, and have gone 4-0 ATS in those four contests.
That's not to say they will cover the number here, but they have tended ot have their most success this season in MAC play when they are putting up 30 or more. Considering Eastern Michigan has allowed 33 points/game in conference home games this season, the Eagles aren't opposed to playing that style of game on their turf either.
With Kent State on a 4-1 O/U run on the road against a winning home team, 6-1 O/U when coming off a SU win, and Eastern Michigan on a 4-1 O/U run off a win of 20+, going against the early majority of support on this total appears to be the way to go.
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