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MAC Championship: Expect A Shootout Between Ball State, Buffalo

Buffalo (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) has barely broken a sweat this season, outscoring its opponents by nearly 31 points per game and leading the nation in scoring. However, Ball State (5-1, 3-3) enters the conference championship on a five-game winning streak and has covered its last three.

MAC Championship Game: Ball State vs Buffalo
  • Date/Time: December 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Ford Field
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Buffalo -12 | O/U 67 (Line History)
  • Ball State vs Buffalo Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Despite its impressive average margin of victory this year, Buffalo has been favored by 15 points or less in four of its last six contests. This total is the second-highest the Bulls have seen this season, although two of Ball State’s last three games had an OVER/UNDER of 67 or higher.

Ball State News & Notes

Led by Justin Hall’s 10 catches, 175 receiving yards and two touchdowns, the Cardinals clinched their first trip to the MAC title game in 12 years with last week’s come-from-behind 30-27 win over Western Michigan.

Hall, Ball State’s all-time leader in receptions, caught a 55-yard touchdown pass to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter before the Cardinals won it on a late field goal by Jack Knight.

The victory didn’t come without a scare. Western Michigan appeared to win the game with a series of laterals on the final play, but referees ruled that one of the Mustangs’ laterals was an illegal forward pass. That set off a monstrous celebration on the Cardinals’ sideline, and the dramatic victory might leave Ball State vulnerable for an emotional letdown this week.

championship trophy shaped as a football

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Ball State has won five straight games since starting the season with a 38-31 loss at Miami (Ohio) and is on a 3-0 ATS run after failing to cover its first three outings.

Although the Cardinals defense ranks 90th in yards allowed and 119th against the pass, they haven’t allowed more than 27 points since their second game of the season. Ball State allowed nearly 500 yards against Western Michigan but didn’t yield a touchdown in any of the Mustangs’ three trips inside the red zone.

Buffalo News & Notes

The Bulls have literally run over their opponents this season, averaging a nation-high 344.2 yards per game on the ground and leading the FBS with an average of 51.8 points per game.

Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks both eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in Buffalo’s season-ending 52-7 rout of Akron last weekend, when the Bulls ran for 428 yards. Patterson tied an FBS record by reaching the 1,000-yard rushing plateau in just five games, and he’s now run for 3,837 yards and 51 touchdowns in three seasons at Buffalo.

If the Bulls fall behind in this game by a couple of scores, however, don’t expect their passing game to spark a rally. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease’s 52-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Wilson in the third quarter against Akron was Buffalo’s first passing touchdown in three games, snapping a streak of 21 consecutive rushing touchdowns by the Bulls. Vantrease hasn’t thrown for more than 175 yards in any of his last three games.

Betting Pick: OVER 67

The Cardinals may not be able to match points with the high-scoring Bulls, but they can do enough damage through the air to contribute toward this high total. Expect the OVER to cash for the eighth time in the last nine meetings.

Shark Bites
  • Ball State is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games.
  • Buffalo is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games.
  • The OVER is 7-1 in the last eight meetings.