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Wednesday Night MACtion

Lights! Camera! MACtion! Today marks the last midweek MACtion slate before they revert back to weekend play. If you are new to betting the Mid-American Conference, welcome. If you aren’t, happy to have you back.

Tips for betting the MAC:

  1. Don’t take it too seriously. Midweek action is a perfect recipe for the unknown to happen.
  2. As always, don’t bet more than you’re willing to lose. The swings of betting MAC can be wild but, as with anything, it can be profitable if handled correctly.
  3. Don’t wager on every game on deck. It’s tough enough predicting the outcome of one game, much less three.
  4. Have fun!

Now, let’s look at the final Wednesday slate of MACtion.

Northern Illinois at Ball State -14.5, 62.5

Matchup Report

Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt has been sacked nine times! On the other hand, however, Northern Illinois has recorded just three sacks.

The Northern Illinois offense has put up two vastly different performances in two games. In their matchup against Buffalo, the Huskies produced 400 yards of total offense, but they only amassed 240 yards against Central Michigan.

The Huskies can’t run the ball, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. They are inconsistent at the quarterback position, going from 7.3 yards per pass to 5.0 from one game to the next, with a completion rate of just 55 percent and only one touchdown. What is killing their drives? They have coughed up seven turnovers.

Ball State’s offense is more balanced: 32nd in passing and 14th in rushing. The Cardinals have the slightly better quarterback, averaging 9.7 yards per pass and at least 8.6 in each game, with a 65 percent completion rate, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Ball State is producing most of its scoring on the ground. The Cardinals have six rushing touchdowns through two games, and Northern Illinois has surrendered six rushing majors.

However, nothing I’ve seen suggests Ball State can cover as a double-digit favorite … yet. The difference in this game could be quarterback pressure. NIU signal-caller Ross Bowers was blitzed against Central Michigan and got wrecked, but he had no pressure in Week 1 against Buffalo, and the Huskies’ offensive stats reflect the difference. Ball State is not a team that applies pressure. I think double digits is too many points.

Considerations: UNDER 61.5, NIU +14

Toledo -6 at Eastern Michigan, 61

Matchup Report

This line opened with Toledo at -7 and the total at 59. Here’s why I think the line has dropped: recency bias. Eastern Michigan passes the eye test covering two straight games and Toledo is coming off a big loss.

Let’s first look back at Toledo’s loss to Western Michigan as a 2-point underdog. Toledo led 38-28 through most of the fourth quarter but lost the game after giving up back-to-back touchdowns in the FINAL 45 SECONDS OF THE GAME. With a little luck, the game-winning touchdown for Western Michigan came after it recovered an onside kick at the 50-yard line.

Now, let’s compare offenses. In terms of stats, both are very similar in passing. Toledo is averaging 276 yards per game and 7.1 yards per pass, with a 64 percent completion rate and a 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Eastern Michigan is averaging 245 yards per game and 7.7 yards per pass with a 59 percent completion rate and a 3-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Defensively, they give up 7.0 and 7.4 yards per pass, so again very similar.

The difference lies in the run game. Toledo is averaging 236 rushing yards per game and 5.2 yards per rush. Eastern Michigan is a bit more one-dimensional, averaging just 144 rushing yards per game and a low 3.9 yards per rush.

The other key difference is in rushing defense. EMU is giving up 258 rushing yards per game (ranked 126th) and 5.3 YPC (ranked 106th). Toledo has the edge in both the run game and on defense. The Eagles are a stingy team but they’ll need a lot of things to go right to beat Toledo.

Considerations: Toledo -6, Toledo team total OVER 34

Western Michigan -1.5 at Central Michigan, 58 

Matchup Report

This line opened with Central Michigan as a 2.5-point favorite but it has now shifted to the Chippewas catching points as home dogs. The total has dropped from the 61.5 opening to now 58.

Western Michigan passes a little more, Central Michigan rushes a little more and both offenses play into the vulnerabilities of the opposing defense. These two have a similar pass rush and similar offensive line, so then where’s the edge? Neither team turns the ball over so we can’t really consider that.

Offensively, Western Michigan is first in points per play (though some of that could be skewed by the comeback win against Toledo) and Central Michigan is 36th. Defensively, WMU is 39th in opponent points per play and CMU is 20th.

This line is close and it should be close. Last year the Chippewas were 6-0 ATS at home. They are 1-0 so far this year. Plus, I think Central Michigan’s Jim McElwain is the better, more experienced head coach and perhaps the Broncos are getting a bit more attention after their big win last week.

Considerations: CMU +1.5, CMU ML +100